The FIA World Rally Championship has announced that Ypres Rally Belgium will return to the schedule this summer, following an initial run as a WRC event last year. Ypres, in the northwestern Flanders region of the country will hosts the ninth round of the 13-rally series August 18-21. The asphalt event fills the date left as “to be determined” when the 2022 fixture list was announced last October.
Ypres was first held in 1965 and is known as one of Europe’s toughest rallies. Narrow farm roads, littered with tight junctions and lined by drainage ditches, ensure there is no room for error. Belgium’s own Thierry Neuville won last year’s event, leading for virtually the entire distance.
“Belgium brought something quite different to last year’s WRC due to its tricky special stages and fast-paced format, which meant there was little time for anyone to pause for breath,” said Jona Siebel, managing director of WRC Promoter, which owns the WRC’s commercial rights.
The final slot in the calendar came down to a choice between Ypres Rally Belgium and Barum Czech Rally Zlin, which was hoping to bring the WRC to the Czech Republic for the first time.
“We were hugely impressed with the professionalism and plans from the organizing team in Zlin,” Siebel added. “The rally remains a key event in the FIA European Rally Championship and the door remains open to their WRC ambitions. We look forward to continue working with them.”
FIA WRC category manager Andrew Wheatley said: “Ypres Rally Belgium stepped in last season in exceptional circumstances and managed to deliver a strong and innovative event, which showcased the DNA of Belgian rally.
“The Royal Automobile Club Belgium, together with local organizer Club Superstage, demonstrated commitment and professionalism to put on a top-class WRC round and I’m glad the event will return to the calendar in August. In a rally nation like Belgium, this will be positive news for teams, competitors and fans.”
Alain Penasse, president of rally organizer Club Superstage, added: “We are very happy to be able to bring the FIA World Rally Championship to Ypres again. It is a reward for the efforts that the whole club, all volunteers, our partners and local authorities put in last year to make that first edition a success.”
The rally will feature a strong cooperation between official WRC lubricant partner Wolf Lubricants and event sponsor Ardeca Lubricants. Both companies are centered in Belgium.