Very Fast Freddy! Freddy Loix and his Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich profited from the opening leg of the 2008 Belgium Ypres Westhoek Rally to claim five of the day's six stages. The Belgian driver tops the overnight leaderboard by a margin of...
Very Fast Freddy!
Freddy Loix and his Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich profited from the opening leg of the 2008 Belgium Ypres Westhoek Rally to claim five of the day's six stages. The Belgian driver tops the overnight leaderboard by a margin of 21.9 seconds over his Peugeot/BFGoodrich team-mate Nicolas Vouilloz, and is 49s clear of works Abarth/BFGoodrich driver Giandomenico Basso. The BFGoodrich Drivers Team representative Patrick Snijers is an excellent fifth, on the same minute as the provisional leader.
Despite the ominous clouds that gathered over the Flanders region of Belgium, the stages stayed dry throughout the first day, making tyre choices much easier than is traditionally the case on this event. Most of the BFGoodrich runners went for the hard compound g-Force Profiler A10 for the initial loop of three tests before switching to the soft compound g-Force Profiler A02 for the second attempt.
Four-time Ypres winner Freddy Loix hit the ground running to set an extremely fast pace and was quickest over the first group of stages to lead at the first service halt in Ypres. "My aim was to pull out a gap from the word go because I know that the likes of Rossetti, Vouilloz and Basso all tend to be strong second time round. For the moment, everything is going to plan," said the Belgian driver before going on to collect the next two fastest times, leaving the final test to his team-mate Nicolas Vouilloz who was quickest by six tenths of a second.
The Peugeot-Benelux pair monopolise the sharp end of tonight's standings after a day that was dominated by the more experienced drivers. Giandomenico Basso (Abarth/BFGoodrich), who won the Ypres Rally in 2006, follows in third place, closely tailed by Belgium's Bernd Casier (4th, VW/BFGoodrich) and the BFGoodrich Drivers Team representative Patrick Snijers (5th).
Snijers, who is contesting this event for the 30th time, didn't take long to familiarise himself with his BFGoodrich-backed Peugeot 207 S2000 and a fast, consistent run saw him finish ahead of the 2002 Junior World Champion Dani Sola (Peugeot). Last year's winner Luca Rossetti (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) didn't enjoy the easiest of days, taking a road penalty of one minute before being further delayed by a puncture on the last stage of the evening. The Italian is currently 10th overall, almost two minutes adrift of top spot. Jan Kopecky (Peugeot/BFGoodrich), who was third in the provisional IRC standings before Ypres, went off on the final stage.
Tomorrow's long leg features a menu of 12 stages, including two attempts at the long Heuvelland test (42km).
Freddy Loix (Peugeot/BFGoodrich): "It was an excellent leg for me. We didn't make any mistakes and my car was fantastic. Our set-up was perfect, so were our tyres and I felt very confident through all the trickiest portions. I didn't hesitate to switch to soft compound tyres for the evening's loop, but the hard compound was much more suited to the afternoon's conditions."
Nicolas Vouilloz (Peugeot/BFGoodrich): "It hasn't been a bad day at all. My car was a little 'lazy' over the first loop but the team responded well and I found it very nicely balanced for the second pass. I'm not sure whether the soft compound tyre was the ideal choice this afternoon. I had a bit too much grip at the rear and we hesitated between switching to the harder compound A10 tyre this evening and trying to work on the set-up of my car to adapt it to the softer A02s. We finally went for the latter choice and the decision paid off."
Michel Ducher, BFGoodrich technician: "The hard compound g-Force Profiler A10 was clearly the best choice for the first loop because ground temperatures were around the 30o.C mark. The A02 (soft compound) didn't deliver precise enough steering for the opening stages but it was competitive second time round. Luca Rossetti picked up a puncture after cutting a corner and he was forced to finish the stage on the rim."