Belgium Ypres Westhoek Rally
Round 5, Belgium
European Rally Championship
The Belgium Ypres Rally is one of the longest-standing events on the European Championship, attracting widespread popular support from all over Northern Europe. As well as huge numbers of spectators lining the fast and specialised asphalt stages, there is a massive amount of television and media interest around the event.
The rally is situated in the bustling and historic town of Ypres, famous for its typical architecture and impressive town square where the service park is located throughout all three days. As well as forming a traditional part of the European and Belgian Championships, Ypres has been part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (which is backed by Eurosport) since 2007.
The 2007 event was won by Peugeot Italy driver Luca Rossetti, co-driven by Matteo Chiarcossi, in a Peugeot 207 S2000. In total, 101 competitors from13 countries took the start including 9 FIA priority B drivers. There were factory cars from Abarth, Citroen, Honda, Peugeot and Suzuki, as well as all the major Belgian Championship competitors including star names such as Patrick Snijers and Freddy Loix.
The Belgium Ypres Rally has a unique ambience, which sees the entire local population get behind the event, as it forms a focal point of activity throughout all three days.
The service park, in the heart of the town, attracts a vast number of visitors and the drivers are all treated as celebrities. With rallying engrained in Belgian culture, there are several promotional and marketing activities that take place using the rally as a platform.
Ypres has successfully evolved throughout its 43-year history in order to meet the changing demands of the sport and the competitors. With a remarkably compact route, it offers high levels of safety and convenience for spectators. With the full support of the local community, Ypres has firmly established itself as a landmark of sporting and organisational quality. New measures are put in place year after year, in order to offer constantly improved facilities to the media and teams.The popularity of the event is proof of how effective these measures are. Last year, 198 media from 13 countries were accredited (64 TV and radio stations, 86 journalists, and 48 photographers). Coverage was obtained in some of the most important publications in Europe, such and Autosport (GB), Autosprint (I), Auto Hebdo (F) and 5 Television stations including Eurosport, RTBF, RTL and VRT screened the event with Eurosport alone providing more than eight hours of coverage reaching 108 million homes in 59 countries.
The Rally Headquarters, as well as the start and the finish of the event, are located next to the town square where the service park is located putting everything within easy walking distance. Scrutineering for the Ypres Belgium Rally (which the public can watch) will take place on 26 June at 8h00. The shakedown will take place on 26 June in the evening, around the village of Nieuwkerke. The rally will consist of two legs on Friday and Saturday (27-28 June), with 18 stages making up a total competitive distance of 300 kilometres (out of a total route distance of 570 kilometres.- a relation of 51 %) The stages run mostly through farmland are all asphalt, but a lot of mud and gravel can be pulled onto the road by competitors cutting corners. With many fast straights leading into 90-degree corners, accurate pace notes and braking points are vital.Ypres is ideally situated for easy access, with the major English channel ferry ports only an hour away. The TGV and Eurostar terminal at Lille is also close by, and the town has a comprehensive road network connecting it to all the major European arterial routes.