Fierce battle behind Stéphane Lefebvre


The second day of the Ardeca Ypres Rally started with a big bang. Jos Verstappen, who was particularly strong during the opening day until he suffered a puncture in Zillebeke, went off at high speed and into the forest on the Kemmelberg. It turned out to be the harbinger of many slippages and incidents.

Ardeca Ypers Rally. 2024 Kroon Oil Belgian Rally Championship. Shot by Sam Tickell for

After Verstappen’s retirement, the Dikkebus test followed, where leader Stéphane Lefebvre was surprised by slipperiness in a braking zone. The Frenchman slidwide into a field. While he was disappointed, he still set the fastest time, because he was not the only one to make the mistake. Cédric Cherain briefly left the road and Maxime Potty said he made two stupid mistakes. As a result, Cédric Cherain moved into second place behind his teammate, but during the second pass on in Dikkebus, it was Cherain’s turn to make a mistake. 

“I slid backwards into a ditch at the last T-junction. It’s a shame, because we lost about a minute here,” said Cherain. This gives Stéphane Lefebvre a margin of 38.2 seconds over Maxime Potty.

The question was put to Lefebvre, if he would be willing to give up his victory to benefit Cherain´s title chase. The answer was absolute. According to the Nordist – “no, not a victory in Ypres, that’s for sure, not your gift. I have dreamed of a victory in Ypres since I was a child. I’m just going to try to control the rally. After all, it remains very tricky,” said Lefebvre.

Maxime Potty, sitting in second, feels good in the Toyota. “I’m getting to grips better and better with the car and I can achieve the times I would with the Citroën. Only this morning in Dikkebus I was surprised a couple of times with slippery braking zones. My mistake,” Potty said.

Unfortunately for Gilles Pyck, he received a 50 second penalty on Friday evening after he left the service park 5 minutes late. The delay was caused by a missing time book. Today, he made 3 mistakes on Saturday with the VW Polo. 

The trouble kept coming as Vincent Verschueren had retire after an off on the Kemmelberg and a small crash in Dikkebus caused more mechanical issues than initially thought., 

Check out our short recap video here

Freddy Loix, at one point had moved into the podium positions but he also suffered a puncture on the Kemmelberg. The Toyota driver, who is very satisfied with his times when compared to the regular BRC contenders, dropped back to seventh, just ahead of Pyck.

Therefore third place is now in the hands of Bjorn Syx, who is driving a fantastic rally in his home region with the Citroën C3. “Yes, but it’s still too early to celebrate,” cautioned Syx. “I’m not going to be fooled. Yesterday on the second loop I lost a lot of time, but we found the cause. The front differential was broken. Today the car feels great. I don’t take all the risks anymore, because I definitely want to finish.”

Syx cannot count on the podium as Bernd Casier is only 3.2 seconds behind. Caiser was on his way to a place in the Top 5 due to a consistent and almost flawless drive, although he still has a long way to go and pressure from behind. Cherain, recovering from his issues, has his sights set on both Caiser and Syx, with the three drivers separated by less than 4 seconds.  

Bastien Rouard, who is in his first Ypres Rally, has taken a measured and sensible approach. He has discovered the stages and systematically mapped his drive. He sits in sixth place, ahead of Loix, Pyck, Fred Miclotte and Kris Princen, the leader in the GT category. The final piece of the drama in the Rally2 category occurred when Davy Vanneste lost a lot of time after he ran out of fuel yesterday and went off the track in Zillebeke causing a fair amount of damage to his car. .

In the Stellantis Cup, Pierre-Manuel Brasseur remains the fastest driver. Jonas Dewilde has moved up to second place, ahead of Tom Heindrichs and Maxim Decock. Lander Depotter had a puncture and had to change the wheel on the Kemmelberg.

Kris Princen continues to lead the RGT pack with his Porsche 991 GT3. He lost about 17 seconds during his first pass in Dikkebus, when he took some time to find his way again after a spin. This has made the battle with Tim Van Parijs a bit more intense. The difference between the two is now about twenty seconds. Glenn Janssens, Tuur Vanden Abeele and Melissa Debackere now battle for third place.

The main players among the Historics continue to be the BMW M3 of Pieter-Jan Maeyaert and Paul Lietaer in his Opel Ascona 400. Although the BMW driver was able to increase his lead somewhat across the morning, partly helped by Lietaer’s complaints about the fact that the Opel Ascona 400 skips from left to right along the straights. Fortunately for Lieater, he knew the problem, which was a rear axle. Unfortunately, he continues to be bothered by a back pain. A visit to the physio this morning and some painkillers should help him over the afternoon stages, in an effort to take a podium. 

Christophe Merlevede is set in third place, while his cousin Cedriek, is back after his early retirement yesterday. Cedriek managed to fix the gearbox in the BMW. He proved the pace of the BMW by taking the stage win on Zillebeke.