Rossetti flies on ERC return with Qualifying Stage best
Luca Rossetti has made a sensational return to the FIA European Rally Championship by going fastest through the Qualifying Stage for the Geko Ypres Rally this evening.
The three-time ERC champion took 2m46.009s to complete the 4.79-kilometre test in his DP Autosport-run ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000. He was 0.541s quicker than Craig Breen with Breen’s Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate Kevin Abbing next up in another Peugeot 208T16.
“It was okay,” said Rossetti. “I’m starting to drive because it’s been a long time not driving on the ERC rounds. It’s important to get the rhythm and improve. The speed is okay but I brake too early. I have to speak to my team about the starting position [for leg one]. For sure it will not be first on the road but not 10th or something.”
Breen reckons he could have done better than the 2m46.550s he set: “I fluffed the start and it took a long time for the car to get going,” said the Irishman. “Then I missed my braking in one corner. It was a little sloppy.
Abbring, who clocked a 2m46.909s, said: “Every time I open the door the field is inside the car but maybe [cutting the corners] is the fastest way to go. It’s my first time here in a four-wheel-drive car and the front and rear differential are really dragging you into the corner so you have to be careful with that. It’s nice to cut but you have to be efficient because if you go in too much you reduce your speed. But I really enjoyed myself.”
Freddy Loix, who is chasing a ninth Ypres victory, was fourth fastest, 1.371s down on Rossetti in a time of 2m47.380s. He said: “It was okay but we are not used to do qualifying in the Belgian championship. But it excites me and gives me an extra boost and I push a little bit. It was good, I’m happy with my time.”
FIA European Rally Championship leader Esapekka Lappi will run first on the road on his Geko Ypres Rally debut.
The ŠKODA Motorsport-run Finn was the seventh driver to make their choice at the start selection ceremony in Ypres this afternoon and opted to go at the head of the field.
Peugeot Rally Academy’s Craig Breen chose to run second on the road for leg one’s opening seven stages with Qualifying Stage winner Luca Rossetti the first driver to pick and selecting third position. Eight-time Ypres winner Freddy Loix will run fifth on the road.
A total of 94 crews will start the event, including 14 drivers from the ERC Junior Championship.
It was a case of contrasting fortunes for Peugeot Rally Academy drivers Kevin Abbring and Craig Breen on stage two of the Geko Ypres Rally.
While Abbring set his second stage best on round six of the FIA European Rally Championship, team-mate Breen dropped more time with a loss of brakes caused by the front-right puncture he suffered on the opening test. "I broke a brake line when I got the puncture and I've got no brakes," said Breen. "I'm not giving up, I'm going as hard as I can."
Freddy Loix was second fastest and moves into the runner-up spot overall after Cédric Cherain dropped time and slipped down the order. Elsewhere, ERC title leader Esapekka Lappi is up to third after going third quickest for ŠKODA Motorsport.
After SS3: Rossetti begins to find his rhythm on ERC return
Kevin Abbring has made it a hat-trick of stage wins on the Geko Ypres Rally, albeit by a slender margin of one tenth of a second over former winner Luca Rossetti.
Abbring took 4m14.7s to complete the 7.48 kilometres of Mesen in his Peugeot 208T16. He now leads ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 driver Freddy Loix on the FIA European Rally Championship counter by 11.5s heading to stage four of the legendary asphalt event.
Rossetti, meanwhile, was 0.1s slower than Abbring after the three-time European champion reported that he’s beginning to “find his rhythm” following a long lay-off from international competition.
“I have to find a rhythm,” said Rossetti, who moves ahead of ERC title-leader Esapekka Lappi into third overall. “The first stage I was pushing too much, the second stage I slow down too much. It is just a question about the rhythm, but stage by stage I will find it.”
Craig Breen continues to struggle with a lack of brakes on his Peugeot. Heading to stage four, Langemark, he’s almost one minute and 15 seconds off the lead.
After SS4: Fast Freddy makes his move with stage win
Freddy Loix, the eight-time Geko Ypres Rally winner, has bagged his first stage win on the 50th anniversary of the FIA European Rally Championship counter.
Loix, in Bernard Munster Autosport-run ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, was 0.4s quicker than three-time European champion Luca Rossetti with event leader Kevin Abbring 0.1s further back on the 13.77-kilometre Langemark test. It means Abbring’s overall advantage for the Peugeot Rally Academy has been trimmed to 11.0s heading to service in Ypres with Rossetti third, 13.5s behind Abbring.
Vincent Verschueren, who is giving Citroën’s DS3 R5 its debut in the ERC, reported a fuel pressure problem after the 12-kilometre mark. “There is not going properly, there’s no power,” he said.
There’s now a 30-minute service halt at the Ieper Rally Center with stage five, Dikkebus, getting underway at 20:13hrs local time.
Freddy Loix’s efforts to close up to Kevin Abbring in the battle for victory on round six of the FIA European Rally Championship were dealt a blow when he spun his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 on the repeat of the Dikkebus test.
Loix had closed to within 11 seconds of Abbring by winning stage four but has now slipped to third overall and 18 seconds behind his Peugeot 208T16-driving rival with his moment.
Although Abbring raced to his fourth stage win of the Geko Ypres Rally, the Dutchman had problems of his own when a bird became lodged in the front of his car, which was sporting a broken rear windscreen at the finish of the run and lacking in high-speed stability as a result.
Triple European champion Luca Rossetti was second fastest and moves into the runner-up spot ahead of Loix, despite a brake issue. Cédric Cherain was third quickest.
After SS6: Problems for Rossetti, drama for Consani
Luca Rossetti has dropped out of the battle for victory on the Geko Ypres Rally after a dramatic sixth stage of the FIA European Rally Championship counter.
The three-time ERC champion was in second overall starting the repeat of Wijtschate stage before he hit trouble in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.
“On a quick right there was a big rock on a cut,” said Rossetti. “I didn't expect the car to jump and we get some problems. We had a rear-right puncture and a spin in a quick part. The car goes into a ditch but people push out and we go.”
And there was more drama when Robert Consani reached the stage finish with his car ablaze although both Consani and co-driver Maxime Vilmot were unhurt.
Rally leader Kevin Abbring was fastest through the stage, 3.7.s quicker than eight-time Ypres winner Freddy Loix. Meanwhile, Jaroslav Orsák dropped time with a right-rear puncture. Vincent Verschueren was stopped in the stage for several minutes with a reported fuel pump-related issue on his Citroën DS3 R5.
After SS7: Wiegand up to fifth as Abbring extends Ypres lead
Kevin Abbring will take a lead of 24.8s to end-of-day service in Ypres after the Peugeot Rally Academy driver made it six stage wins out of seven on round six of the FIA European Rally Championship.
Abbring (Peugeot 208T16) beat Freddy Loix by 3.1s through Friday’s closing test, the 7.48-kilometre Mesen stage.
ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland’s Sepp Wiegand has demoted Hermen Kobus for fifth after the Dutchman suffered a scare when he was momentarily blinded by low-lying sun and almost crashed into a post by the side of the road. Jaroslav Orsák’s self-run ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 was slowed by an electrical glitch.
Crews are now heading back to Ypres for a 45-minute service. Leg two begins with the 14.50-kilometre Reninge stage at 10:48hrs local time. The stage hasn’t been used for 25 years but is back on the itinerary as part of the event’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
ERC Geko Ypres Rally day one report: Abbring heads Ypres master Loix on action-packed counter
Kevin Abbring will start day two of the Geko Ypres Rally on course for his maiden victory in the FIA European Rally Championship after he outgunned local hero and eight-time winner Freddy Loix during an action-packed opening day in Belgium.
The Peugeot Rally Academy driver powered his 208T16 to six stage wins out of seven and holds a lead of 24.8s at the overnight halt in Ypres as a result. However, with 190 kilometres of special stages remaining, Abbring’s tenure of top spot is far from secure despite a dominant performance by the rapid Dutchman and his British co-driver Seb Marshall.
“I am impressed by the pace and the feeling with the car is great,” said the 25-year-old. “We have a great rhythm and the car is really reliable on the limit.”
Loix had narrowed Abbring’s lead to 11.0s with his first stage win on the fourth test but a spin on the following run after service, Dikkebus, cost him vital time and he dropped back behind Luca Rossetti to third. However, a puncture for the Italian on stage six wrecked the three-time European champion’s chances as Loix reclaimed second place. Rossetti is currently 14th and 4m13.4s behind Abbring and one place adrift of ERC Ladies’ Trophy leader Melissa Debackere.
After SS8: Lappi fastest as Geko Ypres Rally returns to Reninge
FIA European Rally Championship leader Esapekka Lappi has claimed his first stage win of the Geko Ypres Rally – despite insisting that he wasn’t pushing behind the wheel of his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.
Lappi was 0.6s quicker than triple European champion Luca Rossetti through the 14.50-kilometre Reninge stage, which is back on the Ypres itinerary for the first time in 25 years. The Finn’s performance cements his third place in the overall standings. “I make too much mistakes already, so I do not take risks,” said Lappi. “In some corners I went too wide and just dropped the tyres on the grass, just small."
Craig Breen was third quickest, 0.9s slower than Lappi with Freddy Loix fourth and event leader Kevin Abbring fifth. Abbring, who leads Loix by 24.6s heading to stage nine, was one of several drivers who reported patches of gravel making the asphalt surface more slippery than usual.
“I was thinking about the stage, trying to find the limit of the tyres, but it is a tricky stage and after two kilometres we keep it steady,” said the Dutchman. “This one you need to survive, there is a lot of gravel on the corners in the road."
Meanwhile, Neil Simpson has demoted Davy Vanneste for eighth overall.
Esapekka Lappi and Xevi Pons have both hit trouble on the Geko Ypres Rally, round six of the FIA European Rally Championship.
Lappi was in third place overall but is reported to have hit a post and blocked the road in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, which resulted in the stage being neutralised and prevented rally leader Kevin Abbring and second-placed Freddy Loix from completing the stage at competitive speed. Meanwhile, Pons went off into a ditch in his Ford Fiesta R5.
Craig Breen has set the fastest stage time in his Peugeot Rally Academy 208T16, 0.4s quicker than three-time European champion Luca Rossetti.
After SS10: Loix fastest to close up to leader Abbring
Freddy Loix remains in contention for his ninth Geko Ypres Rally victory after he went fastest of all through the 12.32 kilometres of Watou to close the gap to Kevin Abbring on the FIA European Rally Championship qualifier.
However, after the Belgian was delayed reaching the finish of the previous stage following Esapekka Lappi’s accident, the overall classification has yet to be finalised.
Luca Rossetti was second quickest, 2.5s down on Loix, with Abbring 4.2s slower than Loix. But there were more problems for Craig Breen who reported stopping for 20 seconds to “reset” his Peugeot 208T16.
After SS11: Frustration for Breen as Loix wins again
Craig Breen’s frustrating Geko Ypres Rally continued when suspected fuel pressure issues delayed the Irishman through stage 11 of the FIA European Rally Championship counter, Westouter.
The Peugeot Rally Academy ace, who dropped out of contention with a puncture and brake issues on leg one, said: “I kept having to stop and reset the car again, it was an absolute nightmare.”
Out front, Freddy Loix has narrowed Kevin Abbring’s lead to 19.8s after he made it two stage wins out of two. Loix, who is chasing his ninth Ypres victory, was 0.6s quicker than Abbring through the 7.25-kilometre test in his ŠKODA
Abbring, meanwhile, who has yet to win in the ERC, said he didn’t have a “good feeling” with the brakes on his Peugeot 208T16. Crews are now heading back to Ypres for a 30-minute service halt. Stage 12, the first run through the famous Kemmelberg stage, begins at 13:49hrs local time.
After SS12: The feeling is back for ERC Ypres leader Abbring
Kevin Abbring celebrated his first stage win of day two of the Geko Ypres Rally by revealing that he’s got the “feeling back” with the brakes on his R5-specification Peugeot 208T16.
While Abbring insisted there were no issues with the brakes of his Peugeot Rally Academy entry, he reported earlier that they didn’t have the “right feeling”.
He was 0.2s quicker than Freddy Loix through the 14.33 kilometres of Kemmelberg and now heads the eight-time Ypres winner by 20 seconds in his bid to win a round of the FIA European Rally Championship for the first time.
Speaking to ERC Rally Radio’s Julian Porter at the stage finish, Abbring said: “It’s incredible. I told you before I couldn’t get the right feeling with the brakes but the feeling is back now. I tried to push a bit, not being stupid and I think we did a good job and I was a little bit faster than the first time on this stage.”
Luca Rossetti, the three-time European champion, was 2.9s slower than Abbring and moves ahead of ERC Production Car Cup leader Andy Lefevere into eighth overall.
Craig Breen started the stage out of order after his Peugeot Rally Academy team worked to rectify an electrical issue in service in Ypres. He was fourth quickest, 1.8s faster than Cédric Cherain, who holds third overall following Esapekka Lappi’s retirement on stage nine. Meanwhile, Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm have been taken to hospital in Ypres for precautionary checks.
The 50th anniversary Geko Ypres Rally heads across the border into France next for the Lille-Eurométropole stage, which goes live at 14:52hrs local time and covers a distance of 9.76 kilometres.
After SS13: Unlucky 13 for Breen as Belgium becomes France
There was further woe for FIA European Rally Championship star Craig Breen when the Geko Ypres Rally crossed into France for the Lille-Eurométropole stage.
Hampered by a handbrake glitch on stage 12, a broken differential has left the Peugeot Rally Academy driver’s 208T16 in rear-wheel-drive mode only. “It’s not my weekend,” said Breen. “It is a new car so you have to expect problems. That is just the way it is sometimes. Every time I brake it locks the rear wheels.”
Stage 13 didn’t go entirely plan for Breen’s team-mate Kevin Abbring either. Although he was 0.9s quicker than Freddy Loix to extend his lead to 20.9s, he wasn’t entirely happy at the stage finish. “The stage went well but I hit something as well,” said the Dutchman. “I have to check what it is.”
Loix, who is driving a normally aspirated ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, said: “All the time I am attacking, not only now. This stage is not so good with a long straight. My maximum speed is 178kph and the [turbocharged] Peugeots can take nearly 200kph. But I went flat out and was happy with the way I drove.”
Luca Rossetti, who won on his Ypres debut in 2007 before going on to claim three European titles, was third quickest. He said: “It was a clean run but I really don't like this stage so much, I have no feeling so I drive through. It's finished almost before it starts and the grip changes a lot compared to the Belgian side and every year I have trouble on this stage. But I am happy with my car, the tyres and the rhythm."
It’s back to Belgium next with the 27.56-kilometre Hollebeke stage getting underway at 15:43hrs local time.
After SS14: My heart goes out to Abbring, says new leader Loix
Freddy Loix is the new leader of the Geko Ypres Rally but said he sympathises with Kevin Abbring and the Peugeot Rally Academy team after the Dutchman retired from the lead of round six of the FIA European Rally Championship.
Abbring was 20.9s in front of Loix when he was forced to stop on the road section heading to stage 14 with a suspected mechanical failure on his Peugeot 208T16. His exit means Loix is now 1m16.2s ahead of Cédric Cherain following the 27.56-kilometre Hollebeke test, which is the longest of the event.
“To be honest it’s very disappointing,” said Loix, who is on course for his ninth Ypres victory. “We had a fantastic fight and until now, overall, he was just a little bit quicker. Now I am again in the front and I can only make mistakes so I control the race. But I feel very said for Kevin and also for Peugeot.”
Three-time European champion Luca Rossetti won the stage to climb to fifth overall but there was no such luck for Craig Breen and Neil Simpson. Sepp Wiegand, who is now up to third overall, reported that Breen had stopped in the stage amid suggestions that the transmission problems on stage 13 have worsened, while Andy Lefevere said he spotted Simpson stuck in a ditch.
Crews are now heading to Ypres for a 30-minute service halt before the rerun of Reninge gets underway at 18:00hrs local time.
Bernd Casier has outpaced his rivals on the second running of the 14.50-kilometre Reninge test as he continues to make up for the disappointment of crashing out of the Geko Ypres Rally on Friday’s opening stage.
Driving a Ford Fiesta R5, Casier was 3.7s faster than Sepp Wiegand with Hermen Kobus third quickest and Luca Rossetti fourth. Cédric Cherain set the fifth best time with rally leader Freddy Loix insisting all was well in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, despite only managing the seventh quickest time.
There was more drama in Reninge, which is back on the Ypres schedule for the first time in 25 years, when Casier’s good friend, Pieter Tsjoen crashed into a ditch 300 metres from the stage finish. The multiple Belgian champion, who was hit with a five-minute penalty for fitting a replacement engine in his Peugeot 208T16 prior to the start, was in striking distance of the top 10 at the time of his exit.
Round six of the FIA European Rally Championship continues with stage 16, the Vleteren-Krombeke test.
After SS16: Rossetti doubles up with Ypres stage best
He might be out of contention for victory on the Geko Ypres Rally following his troubles on day one, but Luca Rossetti is showing no signs of slowing down on round six of the FIA European Rally Championship.
Driving a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 for DP Autosport, the former Ypres winner and triple ERC champion was 3.1s quicker than Bernd Casier through the repeat of Vleteren-Krombeke. However, he remains a distant fifth overall.
Event leader Freddy Loix was again shy of the stage-winning pace in his Fabia. However, his margin out front is more than a minute ahead of Cédric Cherain.
Freddy Loix has rubbished suggestions that he might be in trouble on round six of the FIA European Rally Championship by equalling Sepp Wiegand’s stage best.
Loix and Wiegand both took 6m44.9s to complete the Watou test in their ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000s. It means Loix has extended his lead over Cédric Cherain to 1m08.3s, while Wiegand continues to occupy third spot ahead of Hermen Kobus.
“Sometimes it’s also nice to show them it’s time to slow down, there’s no point always pushing,” said Loix. “On this stage it was more easy to drive quick without taking risks of a puncture because there’s less gravel on the road.”
Stage 18, Westouter 2, is next followed by a 30-minute service halt in Ypres.
After SS18: Lefebvre closes on Crugnola for ERC Junior lead
The battle for victory in the FIA European Rally Championship is set for a thrilling finale with Stéphane Lefebvre closing to within 1.5 seconds of Andrea Crugnola heading to the closing two stages.
Lefebvre has experienced contrasting fortunes throughout the Geko Ypres Rally but is now within striking distance of reclaiming the lead he’s held on two previous occasions after his Peugeot 208 R2 was restored to full working order when a replacement gearbox was fitted at service in Ypres this afternoon.
Marijan Griebel continues to hold third in the young-driver category but said he is having to “fight like a lion” aboard his Opel ADAM R2, which has suffered powersteering failure.
In the chase for overall victory, Freddy Loix is 1m08.5s in front of Cédric Cherain heading to the penultimate service halt in Ypres. The eight-time Ypres winner, who has adopted a cautious approach in his bid for win number nine, was seventh quickest, 7.3s behind Luca Rossetti, who was fastest through the 7.25-kilometre Westouter stage.
Following service in Ypres, the action resumes with the Kemmelberg test from 21:01hrs local time.
Cédric Cherain has underlined the serious competition ahead in the FIA European Rally Championship by becoming the eighth different stage winner on round six of the all-action series, the Geko Ypres Rally.
Cherain topped the times on the repeat of the 14.33-kilometre Kemmelberg test in his Ford Fiesta R5, going one second faster than Freddy Loix, who remains on course for his ninth victory on the Belgian asphalt showcase.
Pieter Tsjoen was third fastest on his first start in a Peugeot 208T16 with Sepp Wiegand fourth and Bernd Casier fifth. Three-time European champion Luca Rossetti completed the top six.
The 50th anniversary Geko Ypres Rally concludes with the 27.56-kilometre Hollebeke stage at 21:30hrs local time.
After SS20: Stage win for Tsjoen ERC Ypres gold for Loix
Pieter Tsjoen has completed the 50th anniversary Geko Ypres Rally by winning the final stage of the FIA European Rally Championship counter as Freddy Loix celebrated winning the asphalt event for a ninth time.
Tsjoen, in a Peugeot 208T16, was 10.4s quicker than Bernd Casier with Loix third fastest through the 27.56 kilometres of Hollebeke.
Cédric Cherain secured the runner-up spot and his maiden Ypres podium with Sepp Wiegand making it two podiums out of two in this year’s ERC after he fended off Hermen Kobus for third.
Andy Lefevere secured the ERC Production Car Cup laurels with Martin Hudec overhauling title rival Vitaliy Pushkar for fifth on the very last stage when the Ukrainian’s Mitsubishi Lancer suffered brake woes.
There was also late drama for ERC Ladies’ Trophy contender Melissa Debackere, who lifted the bonnet of her Peugeot 207 Super 2000 at the stage finish amid concerns about an overheating engine.
Stéphane Lefebvre started the final stage leading the ERC Junior category after overhauling Andrea Crugnola for top spot on the penultimate run.