Neuville Rovanpera points in Ypres Shakedown

The Hyundai i20 N driver beat championship leader Kali Rovanpera the Toyota GR Yaris by just six tenths of a second, while Yaris’s Elfyn Evans tied for third with the young i20’s Oliver Solberg. The couple was another seven-tenths behind.

The local rainfall at the start of the session was the perfect attraction for what awaits us this weekend.

Grip was changeable on the 7.34km Nieuwkerke test south of Ypres, although conditions became more consistent as a mixture of asphalt, concrete and cobblestones began drying up.

Rovanpera led after the second pass

Neuville set the pace in the opening round but Rovanpera leapt forward on the second pass. The Belgian moved to a distance of a tenth of his opponent immediately after that before spreading the record time on his fourth and final pass.

After winning here in 2021, Neuville is desperate to defend his title at Ypres. He has yet to win a run in the hybrid era and insists things won’t be easy.

“It’s going to be a tough event,” Nouvel said. “We’ve already seen changing conditions in the move away, so that’s what we can expect at the weekend. We need to drive clean, smart and try to enjoy the weekend.”

Brian was the fastest Puma runner

Craig Breen – another former Ypres winner – took his M-Sport Ford Puma to fifth in the overall standings. He was 1.6secs off Neuville and outpaced Toyota’s Espica Labe by just 0.1sec.

Adrien Fourmaux finished seventh in another Puma before Secto Rally Finland winner Ott Tänak, who drives an i20. Takamoto Katsuta almost went the wrong way at a junction after a communication error but recovered to take ninth in the overall standings, while Gus Greensmith finished in the top ten.

The leading times were:

POS driver Sentences time
1. Thierry Neuville Hyundai i20 N 3 minutes 44.4 seconds
2. Callie Rovanbero Toyota GR Yaris + 0.6 seconds
= 3. Elvin Evans Toyota GR Yaris + 1.3 seconds
= 3. Oliver Solberg Hyundai i20 N + 1.3 seconds
5. Craig Brin Ford Puma + 1.6 seconds
6. Esapekka LAPPI Toyota GR Yaris + 1.7 seconds
7. Adrian Formoux Ford Puma + 2.2 seconds
8. Out Tonic Hyundai i20 N + 2.4 seconds
9. Takamota Katsuta Toyota GR Yaris + 4.0 seconds
10. Jose Greensmith Ford Puma + 5.2 seconds

• Full coverage of Ypres Rally Belgium will be available on WRC + All Live over hereincluding each stage broadcast as it happens plus keynote interviews, features and expert analysis from the services area.

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