Thu 25 Aug 2022

Munster's last-minute car swap

A testing crash with just days to spare meant Grégoire Munster’s preparations for Ypres Rally Belgium were a little more frantic than he’d have liked.

Munster, son of former Belgian champion Bernard, was taking part in Rally van Staden a few days prior to the WRC’s ninth round when he rolled his Hyundai i20 N Rally2 at high speed. While he and co-driver Louis Louka emerged unscathed, the car was too badly damaged to be repaired in time for Ypres.

Frantic calls were made in a bid to source a replacement car and it wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon - by which time the pair had already started recce - that a solution was found. 

Frenchman Frédéric Rosati, a regular in the WRC2 Masters contingent, offered the use of his similar Hyundai. The catch? The car needed to come back exactly as it left, ready for Rosati to contest next month’s EKO Acropolis Rally Greece (8 - 11 September). 

“There was no option for us to rent a car,” Munster explained. “I think we contacted around seven different teams, and in the end it was all looking a bit hopeless.

“But then Frédéric made a wonderful gesture - he let us borrow his car and that was the deal - that we drive it in Ypres and then we have to get it back to him in one piece because he needs it for Greece.

“It was still a lot of work for the whole team because the car was in gravel specification ready for Greece,” he continued. “So the mechanics had to put all my set-ups into his car and now we have to change it back [to gravel] after the rally.”

Munster was relieved to finish fifth overall in WRC2 as well as taking the runner-up spot in WRC2 Junior behind Chris Ingram despite suffering a puncture on the final morning.

“To be honest, it’s just a relief that we managed to finish in one piece,” he laughed. “It’s not easy to get back in the car [after the crash] and be completely free in the mind to push 100 per cent. 

“We had some really tricky conditions with the rain on Friday and then we had the puncture on Sunday morning, so the result could have been better - but our only goal was to be here.”

Work is already underway to repair Munster’s damaged i20 and the 23-year-old plans to use the car in Greece. 

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