Former Formula 1 driver and father of reigning F1 world champion Max Verstappen, Jos Verstappen, will make his World Rally Championship debut on next month’s Ypres Rally.
Verstappen, an F1 podium finisher and class winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, made his rallying debut earlier this year in a Citroën C3 Rally2 – finishing eighth overall on Rally van Haspengouw.
A WRC round had been anticipated as part of his program alongside appearances in the Belgian Rally Championship and that has now materialized for the Ypres Rally where Verstappen will once again be co-driven by Harm van Koppen.
Verstappen’s best result to date is second place on Monteberg Rally, which uses similar stages to Ypres. But in the WRC he will be up against a stacked field of 36 other Rally2 cars, making replicating that result a big challenge.
Verstappen has not registered for the WRC2 category and so will not be points-eligible.
Making its debut last season, Belgium’s Ypres Rally is part of the WRC calendar for the second time in 2022 and the August 18-21 event has attracted a strong 88-car entry across all classes.
Ten Rally1 cars will take part at the head of the field, headlined by championship leader Kalle Rovanperä and last year’s winner Thierry Neuville.
Oliver Solberg will drive the third Hyundai, prolonging Dani Sordo’s WRC return to the Acropolis Rally in September, while Esapekka Lappi has been entered in Toyota’s third GR Yaris Rally1 instead of Sébastien Ogier whose plans for the rest of the season remain unclear.
M-Sport will run just three cars for the first time since Rally Sweden in February.
WRC2 title contenders Andreas Mikkelsen and Yohan Rossel will both compete, as will record 11-time Ypres Rally winner Freddy Loix who has made two WRC appearances already this season in Monte Carlo and Sardinia and will compete in Finland next weekend too.
Meanwhile returning to the WRC for the first time since the surprise ending to his partnership with Neuville on the eve of the 2021 season is Nicolas Gilsoul, who partners Gino Bux in a Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo.
Like Verstappen, the Belgian pair haven’t registered for points but are dark horses for success following a strong season in their native national championship – lying second behind Stéphane Lefebvre who will score points in the WRC2 category in Ypres.
Title contenders Sami Pajari, Jan Černý and Enrico Brazzoli lead a WRC3 entry that’s headlined by 1994 European Rally champion and seven-time Belgian champion Patrick Snijers.
Snijers, 64, drove a Ford Fiesta Rally3 for the first time on the TAC Rally back in April, and will get his second taste in Ypres – his first WRC event since Rally Sanremo 1998.
This year’s Ypres Rally features some subtle tweaks compared to last year, most notably to the final leg which will remain in the Flanders region instead of traversing to the Spa Francorchamps race circuit – a move that proved controversial in 2021.
The rally will therefore finish with its traditional celebration in Ypres’ town square, with the familiar Kemmelberg test hosting the points-paying powerstage.