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ERC Newsletter #23/14
Posted by: newsla on Jun 05, 2014 - 02:37 PM
WRC Rally News 2010
ERC Newsletter #23/14

Shakedown for his year's Geko Ypres Rally, round six of the FIA European Rally Championship, will take on added importance when it takes place around the village of Nieuwkerke on the evening of Thursday 19 June.


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Not only will it provide a last opportunity for teams to finalise car set-ups ahead of the first competitive stages on Friday afternoon, it will also mark a significant moment for Belgian driver Luc Costermans, who is blind.

Based in France, Costermans lost the sight in both eyes in an accident back in 2004. However, he never lost his passion for driving and set a world speed record for visually impaired people in 2008 with a top speed of 308.780kph in a Lamborghini Gallardo.

Now, with the support of ŠKODA Belgium, Costermans will tackle the 4.79-kilometre stage alongside co-driver David Barattucci. "Just before I became blind I had watched a Michel Vaillant film, in which he was driving on the Le Mans circuit in the dark and his girlfriend was holding her hands in front of his eyes. When I lost my eyesight I thought back to that scene. As a blind person driving a car on a track gives an incredible feeling," said Costermans, who has received personal recognition from FIA President Jean Todt for his achievements. "We want to prove that a blind person can travel fairly easily when he or she is navigated by an experienced co-driver."


Spaniard Xevi Pons will be among the drivers to watch when the Geko Ypres Rally hosts round six of the FIA European Rally Championship from 19-21 June.

Pons, a former team-mate of Sébastien Loeb, clinched the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship title in 2010 and remains one of his country's leading international drivers, even though he's barely competed outside of his homeland in the last three seasons.

He will drive a KRS Rallyes Ford Fiesta R5 alongside compatriot Alex Haro, who partnered him to the SWRC crown in 2010. It will be his first time competing in the new-generation machine and the first time that he will be eligible for ERC points.


Peugeot Rally Academy's bid to make it two wins in this year's FIA European Rally Championship on the Geko Ypres Rally stepped up a gear earlier this week when Kevin Abbring and Craig Breen took part in a two-day development test for Peugeot Sport.

Irishman Breen and British co-driver Scott Martin were in action in their Peugeot 208T16 in Belgium on Tuesday 3 June with Dutchman Abbring and Briton Sebastian Marshall taking over driving duties yesterday (Wednesday 4 June).

Breen, who gave the 208T16 a debut ERC win on the Acropolis Rally in March, will link up with team-mate Abbring for a one-day set-up test, organised by their Saintéloc Racing team on Tuesday 17 June at a location 25 kilometres from Ypres, where round six of the ERC will take place from 19-21 June.


FIA European Rally Championship stalwart Antonín Tlusťák prepared for the Geko Ypres Rally later this month with an outing on a rallysprint in his native Czech Republic recently.

The ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 privateer was at the wheel of a rented Citroën DS3 WRC for Rallysprint Kopná, which takes place around the city of Zlín where round eight of the ERC will be held in late August.

He finished in a strong sixth position after setting top-three times and could have been higher up the order had it not been for an off-road moment.

Having been partnered by Martin Tomeček for Rallysprint Kopná, Tlusťák will link up with regular co-driver Jan Škaloud for the Geko Ypres Rally, which he will start on a high following their impressive run to eighth overall on last month's SATA Rallye Açores. "The times were not bad in the Açores and I was satisfied with the result," said the 32-year-old Tlusťák.

Three drivers will chase ERC Ladies' Trophy honours on the Geko Ypres Rally with Belgians Melissa Debackere and Julie Devalet boosting the ranks on their home round of the FIA European Rally Championship.

Debackere (pictured) will be the favourite for honours in her Peugeot 207 Super 2000 as she looks to build on the seventh-place overall finish she recorded on the asphalt event last season. Devalet, meanwhile, will be hoping to complete the rally for a second year running when she takes part in an R1-specification Citroën DS3.

Current ERC Ladies' Trophy title leader Ekaterina Stratieva will also be in action, with the Bulgarian relying on her familiar Citroën C2R2 Max.

World Rally Championship star Thierry Neuville will be attending the Geko Ypres Rally from 19-21 June as a guest of FIA European Rally Championship promoter Eurosport Events. Unsurprisingly he can't wait for his home round of the ERC to get underway.

What's the best thing about the Geko Ypres Rally?
"It's a great atmosphere and it's the nicest service park in the world. If the weather is nice you can really see some good action. The roads are unbelievably fast with some big cuts - it's very interesting to be there as a spectator and I would tell everyone to go to watch."

Who are you tipping for victory?
"I think nobody can beat Freddy Loix. Okay, last year in the R5 car we were very fast and could have won the rally had we been competing but Freddy is still unbeatable because he knows the roads very well and has always been very fast there, especially when it's wet. He knows the danger places so this makes him the favourite to win. Kevin Abbring can do a very good second position."

Of course the WRC is your main focus now but how much would you like to win in Ypres?
"I would like to win against Freddy, especially if we could compete in the same type of car. I had the chance in 2011 but had to retire quite early. I was leading by two seconds, although it wasn't enough."

PaddockTalk Perspective

Also in WRC Rally News 2010:

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