A trio of Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1s head back to asphalt this week as Ypres Rally Belgium makes its second appearance as part of the FIA World Rally Championship, on round nine of the 2022 world tour.
Having recuperated from a difficult event in Finland, the M-Sport team are ready to tackle some of Europe’s most famous Tarmac roads – with 20 special stages and a total of 282 competitive kilometres all centred around the historic market town of Ypres.
The crews will face flat but unforgiving farmlands and negotiate rally-ending drainage ditches whilst taking huge cuts in pursuit of the fastest times. If that weren’t challenge enough, the second pass will be all the more treacherous with conditions differing greatly between cars as gravel is kicked up and sprayed across the racing line.
M-Sport’s Craig Breen heads to Belgium buoyed by his second overall finish on last year’s event. This year will mark Breen’s sixth outing in Ypres, including an outright victory in 2019. Confident on Tarmac and with comprehensive notes from previous years, the Irishman is set for a strong performance this week.
Effectively the home rally of Adrien Fourmaux, whose family home is just 40km from the service park, the technical stages are familiar territory for the young Frenchman. Fourmaux competed on the event last year in a Fiesta WRC, setting some impressive pace in the early stages, and will hope to do the same this week.
Gus Greensmith will also make his second appearance in Ypres after his debut last year and will aim to gain knowledge of the event with co-driver Jonas Andersson.
Following his Rally1 debut in Rally Finland last week, Jari Huttunen will be back behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta Rally2 in Ypres. The young Finn will compete in the WRC2 category once again, after claiming class victory on his first ever outing in Belgium last year.
Richard Millener, Team Principal, said:
“It’s been the shortest turnaround of the season to get to this rally, and I need to praise the efforts of the team who have been working tirelessly to ensure we get the cars ready in time. We’ve all been motivated by the pace Craig, Adrien and Gus have all shown previously on this event.
“Being the closest rally to home, most of our team will be driving to Ypres and I suspect a lot of fans will be making a similar trip. It’s been fantastic to see the fans back on the stages, many of whom have stuck with us through the good times and the tough times, and I’m looking forward to seeing many of them again this week.
“We are feeling confident for this rally. We know the Puma is strong on Tarmac, so let’s see what we can do, and whether we can make the drive back to Cumbria with some silverware in the boot.”
Craig Breen, said:
“It’ll be nice to go back to Ypres, it’s always a rally I like. I’ve been now quite a number of times and last year went extremely well; we were fighting for the win the whole way through, and I had some good speed. We also won the event in 2019, before it was in the world championship, so we have some good memories there.
“We’re looking forward to the rally, hopefully we can get a good result and show the car’s speed, it’s shown its pace on Tarmac right from the start, so let’s see what we can do.”