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WRC Belgium: THE NICE, The Bad and a resilient Tanak

Top Performer – Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja

For the next consecutive rally, Hyundai’s Ott Tanak and co-driver Martin Jarveoja deserve the very best Performer Award after coming by way of a particularly challenging Ypres Rally Belgium to claim their third victory of 2022.

Ypres’ tricky narrow tarmac roads can catch out the very best of drivers, as championship leader Kalle Rovanpera and 2021 winner Thierry Neuville proved by crashing from the lead through the event. While Tanak could have inherited the rally lead, he showed blistering pace sometimes on a surface that’s not perhaps his favourite, and displayed resilience in order to avoid Ypres’ pitfalls.

Tanak were able to stay static in touch with teammate Neuville through Saturday despite a transmission issue that left the 2019 world champion having an inconsistent four-wheel-drive system on his i20 N, which again proved a hard car to take care of. The Estonian also successfully fended off a late charge from Toyota’s Elfyn Evans to seal an unlikely win by five seconds on the Welshman.

This is Tanak’s second consecutive win, after his against-the-odds triumph in Finland, and his third of the growing season after winning in Sardinia in June. Once more, the win came as a surprise to Tanak, who hinted that the success was more right down to him compared to the progress Hyundai has made out of the i20 N.

When asked if he may have imagined a win prior to the weekend, he said: “No, not necessarily, because our pre-event test had not been excellent so we didn’t have an excellent confidence prior to the rally. But through the rally, we could actually pull it together.

“Lots of things were happening all around us with other folks and we kept it together. It had been not coming by pure performance you understand, it was a significant job.”

As the title appears out of reach now, it’s pertinent to notice that if the growing season had were only available in Sardinia, Rovanpera’s lead over Tanak will be only three points. The Tanak of old is apparently back and delivering his absolute best.

Tanak won his second rally on the trot, his third of the year, to consolidate second in the standings

Tanak won his second rally on the trot, his third of the entire year, to consolidate second in the standings

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Honourable mentions: Oliver Solberg, Takamoto Katsuta, Chris Ingram, Jos Verstappen

Oliver Solberg’s previous WRC outing in Finland ended with the Swede rolling his i20 N at the initial corner of Stage 2, ending his rally before it had barely begun.

The accident left the 20-year-old in tears because the mental tolls of a hard rookie season took hold. To bounce back from that by delivering a faultless drive to secure fourth, a career-best WRC finish, was the turnaround Solberg needed. He drove smartly where others faulted to create home a good haul of points and a morale-lifting result.

Takamoto Katsuta’s 2021 Ypres Rally ended in an enormous accident that forced officials to throw the warning flag. On his go back to treacherous tarmac roads, japan driver produced an extraordinary display to complete fifth.He may have finished higher had his Toyota GR Yaris avoided a gearbox problem that cost him several minutes on Friday morning. But, after Rovanpera’s crash, Katsuta is currently the only real Rally1 driver to complete every round in the points.

Elsewhere, former Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen turned heads on his WRC debut in that which was the fifth rally of his fledgling career. The 50-year-old, who clocked up 106 F1 starts between 1994 and 2003, ran as high as 25th overall and led the Masters Cup class from 11-time record Ypres winner Freddy Loix before running off the street during Stage 13. The Dutchman finished the rally in 60th overall and earned praise from WRC team bosses for his performance.

WRC2 driver Chris Ingram also produced a noteworthy drive to complete the rally just off the class podium in ninth overall, equalling the Briton’s best ever WRC result.

Verstappen made a good impression in his Rally2 Citroen C3 despite falling off the road on Saturday, going on to finish 60th in the overall classification

Verstappen made an excellent impression in his Rally2 Citroen C3 despite falling off the street on Saturday, going to finish 60th in the entire classification

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Team of the Week: Toyota Gazoo Racing

All three WRC Rally1 teams encountered problems through the rally, by means of reliability issues or driver errors.

Hyundai clearly showed that, in the proper hands, its i20 N clearly gets the pace to worry to Toyota but again Ott Tanak again had to overcome a transmission issue to win the function.

M-Sport Ford’s rally unraveled carrying out a group of costly driver errors, while Toyota also suffered a mechanical issue for Takamoto Katsuta.

However, there is one moment of inspirational teamwork that earns Toyota the Team of the Week Award. After Rovanpera’s surprise exit, thanks to an enormous crash in Stage 2, japan squad faced an enormous task to correct the GR Yaris to permit its championship leader to come back on Saturday.

Beneath the regulations, the team received four hours to correct the automobile and somehow pulled it off working late into Friday night. The chassis, fuel tank and engine were the only real areas of the automobile untouched. Rovanpera continued to win Saturday morning’s first stage prior to going to salvage five bonus points after clinching the rally-ending powerstage.

Rovanpera’s recovery came along with Toyota managing to obtain three cars to complete in the top five. Evans finished second before Esapekka Lappi in third, with Katsuta in fifth.

Moment(s) of Heartbreak

Local hero Thierry Neuville appeared on course to provide his expectant home crowd another WRC win on home soil when drama struck on Saturday’s penultimate stage.

The Hyundai driver had developed a 17.2s lead over Tanak, but was caught out by way of a slow and dusty left-hander that caused him to understeer into among Ypres’ famous ditches. Spectators were able to pull the automobile out, but harm to the front-right corner forced Neuville into an agonising retirement.

M-Sport’s Craig Breen returned to a happy hunting ground which has yielded a win and a second-place finish within the last two editions of the rally.

However, the function became a different one to forget because the Irishman suffered a frightening roll during Stage 10, while holding fifth position. Fortunately, Breen and co-driver Paul Nagle emerged unscathed. The pair have been ahead on the splits through the stage prior to the costly error.

M-Sport’s disappointing weekend was compounded by Adrien Fourmaux’s wild crash on the rally’s penultimate stage. The Frenchman was sitting a cushty fifth and was set to provide a glimmer of expect the British squad following its difficult rally when he ran right into a ditch and almost flipped his Ford Puma. It marked Fourmaux’s fifth retirement of the growing season.

Lucky Escapes

Championship leaders Kalle Rovanpera and Jonne Halttunen were lucky to emerge from the heavy crash without injury on Stage 2. The pair were organized in the beginning by way of a timing error that left both driver and co-driver agitated.

While Rovanpera says the problem didn’t affect his concentration, the unflappable Finn made the initial costly error of his up to now faultless championship campaign when he ran wide right into a ditch, which catapulted his GR Yaris right into a group of barrel rolls.

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 after the crash

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 following the crash

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Top Tweets

WRC drivers paid tribute to the fallen from World War 1 at Ypres Menin Gate memorial prior to the start of rally. It produced probably the most powerful images from the function.

Ypres also provided arguably probably the most picturesque service park of the growing season.

Drone cameras once more highlighted the challenges WRC drivers faced while navigating the narrow tarmac roads.

Hot Shots

Adrien Fourmaux, Alexandre Coria, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Adrien Fourmaux, Alexandre Coria, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: M-Sport

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Romain Thuillier / Hyundai Motorsport

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Adrien Fourmaux, Alexandre Coria, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Adrien Fourmaux, Alexandre Coria, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

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