Kevin Abbring writes history in Ypres

Kevin Abbring writes history in YpresFrom Rally Ypres [ 01/07/2017 ].
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Kevin Abbring and Pieter Tsjoen have written history in the 53rd edition of the Ypres Rally. After a nervous race with a nail biting final, they steered their Peugeot 208 T16 to a hard fought and narrow win. For Kevin it is his second victory of the season in the Belgian championship after winning the Rallye de Wallonie and also the first victory of a Dutchman in the Town of Cats. But also for navigator Pieter Tsjoen it was a wonderful success because after his victory in 2001 as a pilot with a Toyota Corolla WRC and then again in the 2005 Ypres Cats Rally, he became the first and only man to win Ypres as a pilot and a copilot.

After the strong start of Thierry Neuville on Friday, the Belgian Hyundai WRC driver went wrong on the sixth stage where he rolled several times. Neuville had to give up for the day but could still see the show with a restored Hyundai i20 R5 on Saturday.

After the retirement of Neuville, Bryan Bouffier took over the command, but with only a 14.6 seconds lead over Kevin Abbring he was far from secure yet. It turned out on Saturday morning several drivers were surprised by the big jump on the Kemmelberg test. Bouffier was one of the drivers taking the jump too optimistically, which resulted in damage to the engine mountings as well as the gearbox casing. It was a miracle he even managed to get back into the service park. But after replacing the gearbox the new unit showed problems too in SS12 Reninge. With the gearbox stuck in third gear the Frenchman lost another 39 seconds in Reninge before he could make a repair on the gear selector linkage himself.

From that moment on Bryan Bouffier started the pursuit, but the new leader, Kevin Abbring, did not give in, either. Bouffier closed in on Abbring to just 4.1 seconds when entering the final test, Westouter-Boeschepe. However, the Peugeot driver fought hard and eventually won by 8 seconds over Bryan Bouffier.

"Friday night we lost some time because we chose a close ratio gearbox but on Saturday I was able to attack at maximum, even though our rear window was shattered on that famous jump. I told Bryan for the final loop that I would never give a second gift," laughed Abbring.

Bryan Bouffier obviously had mixed feelings after his second place. He also would have deserved the victory, but a small technical problem kept him from that great victory in Ypres.

Third place went to Vincent Verschueren who collected his second podium finish of his career in Ypres, home of Godrive, the Gaby Goudezeune team. For the Belgian championship he does not score the points of second place, because Verschueren nominated Ypres in advance as a drop score.

"I have never driven as hard as this weekend with the Skoda. Hats off to Kevin and Bryan. It was not for us anymore. At the beginning, I was amazed at the smoothness of the stages," says Verschueren.

Bernd Casier was fourth, a place he scored for the fifth time in Ypres. And only last year was the sole Ford driver on the podium. However, Bernd Casier is the winner of the Tour European Rally award, in front of Giandomenico Basso who was 7th with his Hyundai i20 R5. After a difficult opening phase, Hermen Kobus with his Skoda Fabia continued to fifth on the final day, precisely his goal for the start of the event. The Dutchman also reached a good result in the Benelux European Rally Trophy, even though Kevin Abbring takes the win here, too.

The top British driver and also winner of the British Rally Championship competition as well as the Tony Pond Trophy became Keith Cronin with his Ford Fiesta R5. Cronin remained flawless, which could not be said of the two Skoda drivers who were leading the championship. Both David Bogie and Fredrik Ahlin went off very early in the race, as did Marty McCormack, who was tipped as a favorite. Matt Edwards became second in the British Championship competition with Osian Pryce third.

For the Belgian championship, Kris Princen came 8th in the Ypres Rally, which is third place of the Belgian Championship drivers behind Abbring and Casier. Princen lost a lot of time through an oil leak. In the final phase he passed Polle Geusens, who eventually drove constently in the Ford Fiesta R5 to 9th place.

Tim Van Paris steered his Porsche 997 GT3 to a clear victory in the GT's ahead of Fredericq Delplace. Chris Debyser, Jochen Claerhout and Chris Van Woensel had to give up.

With the youngsters in R2 there was a huge battle between the Opel drivers Chris Ingram, Callum Devine and Timo van der Marel and the Peugeot pilot of the RACB National Team Guillaume de Mevius. Ingram dominated the class until a last loop accident, which handed victory to the Peugeot driver.