Freddy Loix (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) dominates on home soil A fifth win for Freddy Loix on the Belgium Ypres Westhoek Rally not only saw the local hero notch up his maiden Intercontinental Rally Challenge victory but it also enabled him...
Freddy Loix (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) dominates on home soil
A fifth win for Freddy Loix on the Belgium Ypres Westhoek Rally not only saw the local hero notch up his maiden Intercontinental Rally Challenge victory but it also enabled him to emerge as the most successful driver in the history of his home event. At the wheel of his Peugeot 207 S2000 equipped with BFGoodrich tyres, Loix headed home his Peugeot-Belux team-mate Nicolas Vouilloz by almost a minute, while last year's winnerLuca Rossetti finished third in his similar Peugeot/BFGoodrich. Patrick Snijers, the BFGoodrich Drivers Team'srepresentative in Belgium, finished an excellent fifth overall.
Peugeot-Belux, which is one of BFGoodrich's partnersin the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, couldn't have wished for a better conclusion to the third round of this year's IRCwhich saw its two crews Freddy Loix/Robin Buysmans and Nicolas Vouilloz/Nicolas Klinger dominate the weekend's sport to secure an assertive one-two finish for the team.
Freddy Loix led from flag to flag, claiming five of Friday's six stages totop the overnight leaderboard by a little more than 20 seconds over his French team-mate and by almost a minute over third-placed Giandomenico Basso (Abarth/BFGoodrich).
The Belgian driver encountered a transmission problem on the first loop of the second day but Kronos Racing changed his car's gearboxin just 15 minutes and Freddy even managed to extend his cushion to more than a minute after the long SS12 (42.56km). All that remained for him to do after that was to control from in front to finally pop the champagne on Ypres' celebrated Market Placeon Saturday evening.
The weekend didn't go quite so smoothly for team -mate Nicolas Vouilloz who was forced to turn up his pace in order to recover second spot after a time-consuming off at one of the event'snotorious junctions. The front-end of his car dropped into a ditch, but the spectators soon had him back on the stage, although the incident cost him approximately a minute. Two stages later, though, the 2007 IRC runner-up had fought his way back up to second place to ensure a one-two finish for Team Peugeot- Belux.
The fight for third place was a particularly nail-biting affair, with four experienced Ypres campaigners all in with a chance, namely Bernd Casier (VW Polo S2000/BFGoodrich), who briefly led here last year, works Abarth/BFGoodrich driver and 2006 winner Giandomenico Basso, the BFGoodrich Drivers Team representative Patrick Snijers, joint holder of the record for the highest number of Ypres wins (four) before the start, and the 2007 winner, Italy'sLuca Rossetti, who had successfully fought his way back from overnight 11th.
The suspense lasted until the very last stage (the awesome Heuvelland test, 42.56km), prior to which only 6.1 seconds covered Casier, Snijers and Rossetti, while Basso had lost ground after picking up a heavy time penalty. The event's sting-in-the-tail stage - which was covered in around 23 minutes - didn'tallow Patrick Snijers to prevent Rossetti from securing a fully deserved podium finish which enables the Italian driver to stay on top of the provisional IRC Drivers' standings.
The fourth round of the 2008 Intercontinental Rally Challenge takes crews to Saint Petersburg in two weeks' timefor the Russia Rally which was won last year by Abarth/BFGoodrich'sAnton Alen .
Freddy Loix (1st, Peugeot/BFGoodrich): "Everything went perfectly for us this weekend. Our plan was to pull out a quick lead and we were helped by the perfect set-up of our car. On top of that, the team succeeded in changing our gearbox during service this afternoon without incurring any time penalties and the BFGoodrich g-Force Profiler A02 was ideally suited to the terrain. It was pretty much a dream event for me and the icing on the cake was notching up my fifth win in Ypres."
Nicolas Vouilloz (2nd, Peugeot/BFGoodrich): "Today's resultis excellent for Team Peugeot-Belux, and second place is also a good score for me in terms of the Drivers' championship. Perhaps I wasn't quick enough on Friday's opening stages, but I hadn't driven the car since the Rally dePortugal. I did my best to catch Freddy after that but my off this morning basically sealed the outcome. My BFGoodrich tyres were very competitive. I chose the soft compound g-Force Profiler A02 for the first loop on Friday but I didn't find the balance of mycar ideal. We then changed the set-up and opted to stay on the soft option throughout the second leg, and I have to say my car performed perfectly like that."
Jacques Morelli, BFGoodrich's IRCprogramme manager: Freddy dominated the rally like no other driver has dominated a round of the IRC since last year. It's the first time since the start of2007 that there wasn't a single leader change. Rossetti was unlucky this weekend after picking up a time penalty and a puncture, but his run was ultimately rewarded with a top-three finish. He was the only BFGoodrich driver to run hard compound g-Force Profiler A10 tyres throughout the event. He found them more precise and responsive. Hats off, too, to Patrick Snijers for a remarkable drive."
Next round: Russia Rally (July 11-12)