Ypres Rally Belgium: Day 1
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing third and fourth after Friday
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team drivers Elfyn Evans and Esapekka Lappi are third and fourth respectively after a demanding start to the Ypres Rally Belgium.
Championship leader Kalle Rovanperä started the day well with the quickest time in the first stage, but was caught out by the notoriously tricky asphalt roads in the following test when he ran wide into one of the many ditches lining the route, causing his car to roll. He and co-driver Jonne Halttunen were unhurt and, should the team be able to repair his car this evening, will return to action under restart rules tomorrow.
Team-mate Elfyn Evans took over first place and set the pace in SS4 to lead by 2.3 seconds arriving back into the centre of Ypres itself for mid-day service. The threat of rain made tyre choices difficult for the afternoon loop, and while it never fell in any great amount, damage to one tyre forced Evans to run a full-wet compound on some stages, and he also picked up a 10-second penalty for arriving late to the day’s final test. He therefore ended the day 13.7 seconds from the lead.
Esapekka Lappi came into the rally lacking the recent experience of the stages that others gained one year ago – his one previous start in Ypres coming eight years ago – but performed well to end the day in fourth overall, building a margin of 18.8s over his nearest rival.
Takamoto Katsuta was delayed by a transmission issue during the morning and is now focused on gaining further experience on the asphalt stages in his TGR WRT Next Generation entry.
Before SS3, rally fans had the first chance to see the exciting GR Yaris H2 in action. Demonstrating TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s commitment to exploring options for achieving carbon neutrality, the experimental concept features a combustion engine running on hydrogen fuel: Retaining the sounds and sensations enjoyed by drivers and fans alike while producing almost zero emissions.
The GR Yaris H2 is being driven this weekend by four-time world champion Juha Kankkunen (who achieved the last of his WRC titles with Toyota in 1993) and is fitted with Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres, with the level of grip from the high-performance rubber helping to showcase the potential of the hydrogen-fuelled concept.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“It has not been the easiest day for us, to be honest, but we know this rally is never easy. Kalle started really strongly before his accident. In rallying, these things happen to everybody, every champion has made at least one mistake per season, and until now Kalle had done eight rallies with eight really good results. Hopefully the team can repair the car and he can still get some points this weekend. Elfyn and Esapekka have been doing well. Unfortunately Elfyn dropped some time at the end of the day but we haven’t given up and we will try to fight back tomorrow. If the weather gets difficult, it could give us an opportunity.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“Overall it has not been a bad day. We had a solid morning loop, but the end of the afternoon was a bit difficult. We had a slow puncture near the end of the second stage, so we were a bit unlucky there, and then we had to use the rain tyre for the last two and the feeling was not so good to be honest. An unfortunate error checking in for the final stage got us the penalty, but this can happen sometimes in this sport. There’s definitely still a long way to go, it’s a big day out on the stages tomorrow and we just have to try and enjoy it and see what happens.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“This morning the conditions were tricky with very little grip but I was driving at quite a normal pace and everything seemed to be OK. Then in the middle of the second stage, there were two corners together and for the second one my pacenote was just too optimistic. I had it marked as a short corner, but I turned in too early and couldn’t make it and hit the ditch. It was a big impact but both myself and Jonne were fine. Hopefully the team is able to fix the car and we can be back out tomorrow.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 4)
“I feel it’s been a good day. We had quite a decent morning, nothing crazy but not too slow anyway. I felt we could improve the car during the mid-day service and we were able to do that, so I felt much more comfortable. A lot of the cars took the wrong tyres for this afternoon because the rain never came. It was just about managing this as well as we could, and we were the fastest of those on the softer tyre options, so I can be really satisfied with that. I think this is a good place to be. I don’t think it’s possible to match the speed of the top guys so we’ll just try to continue in the same way tomorrow.”
End of day one (Friday):
1 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) 49m50.4s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +2.5s
3 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +13.7s
4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +37.3s
5 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +56.1s
6 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +1m34.5s
7 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +2m01.2s
8 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +2m09.5s
9 Stéphane Lefebvre/Andy Malfoy (Citroën C3 Rally2) +3m41.4s
10 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +3m56.9s
TBC Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID)
(Results as of 19:00 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Saturday, like Friday, is based on an anti-clockwise loop of four stages around Ypres to be run twice, but with more competitive kilometres, at 133.22. The final stage of the loop, Hollebeke, is the longest of the rally at 22.32 km.
Press kit and Event pictures will be uploaded here
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