Final decision on Ypres Rally expected next week

Organizer still planning to run June event until further government advice

Matt Edwards / Patrick Walsh Ford Fiesta R5

A final decision on whether this year’s Ypres Rally will commence is expected to be made next Friday despite recent government advice in Belgium, DirtFish understands.

The Belgian government extended its ban on hosting mass gatherings until August 31 on Wednesday, which has already led to other motorsport events in the country such as the Spa 24 Hours to be postponed.

But the Ypres Rally organizer is planning to run the rally on June 25-27 as it is awaiting further government decision.

A statement read: “For the moment, the event still isn’t forbidden [at the] end of June. [On Wednesday], all very popular ‘mass’ events like summer festivals were forbidden until the end of August.

“For all other events – national or regional events etc – the decision will be taken next week. The Belgian federation RACB is working on it and discussing this with our government.

“The next announcement of the Belgian government will be made on April 24. Until then, we plan to run the event in June.”

Ypres – formerly part of the European Rally Championship – is a counting round of both the Belgian and British Rally Championships. Four rounds of the Belgian series have already been postponed, while two British rounds have been postponed or canceled.

British Rally Champion Matt Edwards said he would be disappointed not to head to Ypres as he was hoping to push for a strong overall result this year in his Ford Fiesta R5 Mk2.

“Out of all of them it was the one I was hoping they’d save,” he said.

“If it doesn’t run but then runs on another date that’s fine, but to lose it altogether would be a major blow really.

“I’ve never had a clean run there, I’ve always had problems of some sort and the pace has been top five on a clean stage without a problem. So I think if I could piece that together with a bit more pace from the [new] car [as well] then we could put it [up there and] finish in the top five.”

Hyundai driver Tom Cave added: “It’s the highlight of the year I would say for us drivers, fans and teams alike as it’s more of a rally festival shall we say than it is a rally.

“Obviously it would be a great shame if the event doesn’t run but we have to adhere to government advice and everyone’s in it at the moment to make sure we get through this global pandemic.

“For me, it’s a tale of both sides. Of course I’d be disappointed, but I fully respect the decision as well if it is canceled.”