Friday | 19 Aug 2022

Local knowledge pays off for WRC2 leader Lefebvre

Stéphane Lefebvre capitalised on his Belgian expertise to top the ultra-competitive WRC2 category after Friday’s opening leg at Ypres Rally Belgium.

Lefebvre hails from France but has been contesting - and currently leads - the Belgian championship this season with his Citroën C3 Rally2. 

His expertise on Belgium’s treacherous asphalt roads came into its own as he arrived back to Ypres’ historic Grote Markt square 15.5sec clear of championship leader Andreas Mikkelsen, who drives a Škoda Fabia Rally2, as well as sitting eighth overall. 

Despite not starting a WRC round since Croatia in April, Lefebvre was quickly into the groove. He seized the top spot in the second stage of the day and extended his buffer with a clean sweep of fastest times over the afternoon.

“It was a very good day for us,” beamed Lefebvre. “The pace is really good and we avoided any mistakes. I am feeling quite confident in the car and we showed what we can do today. 

Mikkelsen is poised for a Saturday charge

“It’s much easier to jump in the car on the Belgian roads when you are already doing the [national] championship. After the tests for Ypres, we changed almost nothing - so it’s definitely a good help in that respect,” he added.

Yohan Rossel completed the podium in another Citroën. He dropped time during the afternoon with a tyre choice which was more suited to wet conditions and trailed Mikkelsen by 13.1sec. 

Grégoire Munster was just 2.6sec further back in a Hyundai i20 N Rally2 and led the WRC2 Junior category. He held a 20.6sec buffer over M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2 man Jari Huttunen. 

Munster is on track for WRC2 Junior success

Chris Ingram briefly led after a scorching run through the opener. However, the Briton’s time at the top was short-lived as he spun his Fabia into a field on the very next test, eventually ending the day down in sixth. 

German star Armin Kremer leads the WRC2 Masters Cup in another Škoda and even took a stage win on SS4.

Josh McErlean’s day was over on SS6 when his Hyundai left the road. Georg Linnamäe suffered a similar fate, crashing his Volkswagen Polo on the second passage of Langemark.

  • Full coverage from Renties Ypres Rally Belgium is available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.

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