The World Rally Championship (WRC) is back this weekend (19-21 August) for the ninth round of the season, the Ypres Rally Belgium 2022. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) could, with the support of his home fans, be the one that takes the glory this weekend. The Saint Vith driver will attempt a repeat of his home victory last year, while preventing Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota) from claiming the crown in Belgium.
The local hero is also the one with the most experienced in the Belgian round, which he has won on seven occasions, six outside the WRC calendar. He knows the narrow and windy lanes of the Flanders countryside like the back of his hand.
Regulars Neuville & Tänak, who arrives at the Ypres Rally 2022 in great spirits following his first triumph and the first for his team this season in Finland, will be joined by teenage driver Oliver Solberg on board the third i20 N Rally 1.
Rovanperä: Hoping to seal the title at the Flemish appointment
Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota) could potentially, although it is highly unlikely, get crowned at the Flemish appointment. After winning five of this season’s races so far in Sweden, Croatia, Portugal, Kenya & Estonia, he commands the standings with 94 points over Ott Tänak (Hyundai), 95 over Neuville (Hyundai) and 104 over his Toyota teammate Elfyn Evans.
To conquer his first WRC title, the gifted Finn needs to add 120 points more than his adversaries at the Ypres Rally Belgium 2022, which he could only do if he wins the race, including the Power stage and all of his rivals are knocked out.
This time around luckily, he will not have to start -after five consecutive rounds- having to open the dirt tracks for his rivals, and losing precious time as a result.
This is the second round of the season that runs exclusively on asphalt after the Croatian Rally 2022 (excluding Rally Montecarlo with its unique and changing conditions), and, at the Baltic round, Rovanperä took the win following a vibrant duel with Tänak.
The Finn already showed what he is made off in his previous visit to the Belgian appointment in 2021 , when he beat both his teammates Elfyn Evans and Sébastien Ogier for third. This time around, as he did in Finland, Esappekka Lappi will be replacing -again- the eight-time champion.
Get a closer look at the kind of dirty, slippery roads awaiting @KalleRovanpera and the rest next week in this onboard from pre-event testing 🌽👀#ToyotaGAZOORacing #GRYaris #WRC #YpresRally 🇧🇪 pic.twitter.com/sKRyIMnoIx
— TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT (@TGR_WRC) August 12, 2022
The excellent state of form of the championship leader, as well as the obvious superiority of the GR Yaris, make him one of the favourite candidates to win the Ypres Rally Belgium 2022. Takamoto Katsuta will sit behind the wheel of a fourth private car with factory support, completing the Japanese line-up.
M-Sport will attempt to make up for its Finnish debacle
Former Ypres Rally winner Craig Breen, third last time around in Belgium, will lead M-Sport line-up at the Flemish appointment. The Irish driver will try and make up for his disastrous performance in Finland and claim his third podium of the season after Montecarlo and Sardinia-Italy.
Britain’s Gus Greensmith and France’s Adrien Formaux will complete the line-up of the Cumbrian team, desperate to leave their Finish debacle firmly behind.
Ypres Rally Belgium 2022 route
The itinerary of the Ypres Rally Belgium 2022 comprises 20 stages and 281,58 timed kilometres over three days. The Spa-Francorchamps circuit will not play the prominent role it had in previous rounds of the Belgian Rally but the narrow, winding and slippery sections of the Ypres Rally will pose an extreme challenge for both men and machines.
The route’s close and treacherous corners, with its many ditches and utility posts, will be both Neuville’s best ally and his adversaries’ worst enemy. The mud that often sits in the angular curves will be progressively dragged into the asphalt with the passing of the cars, making the Ypres Rally Belgium 2022 even more challenging.
Images of Ypres Rally Belgium 2022: WRC.