Ypres Rally will return to the World Rally Championship this year, filling the vacant August date on the calendar.
This season began with a question mark alongside an August 18-21 slot, in the hope agreement could be found to run Rally Northern Ireland. When hopes of finding a way for the WRC to return to the UK were dashed for 2022, discussions began with Belgium and Barum Rally Zlín.
But Ypres got the nod to fill in for Northern Ireland for the second year in succession, having stepped up to the WRC 2021 calendar in January last year.
After a stunning WRC debut last season, Ypres had been expected to run as a European Rally Championship event this year. But now it’s back to the big time for one of Europe’s most popular sporting events.
WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel is excited by Belgium’s return. He said: “Belgium brought something quite different to last year’s WRC due to its tricky special stages and fast-paced format, which meant there was little time for anyone to pause for breath.
“The Ypres region whole-heartedly throws itself into rally week. There’s a great buzz out on the stages and we’re sure that will be replicated in the town itself this time round when fans will be allowed in the beautiful Grote Markt service park.”
Siebel paid tribute to the efforts of the Czech event, adding: “We were hugely impressed with the professionalism and plans from the organizing team in Zlín. The rally remains a key event in the FIA European Rally Championship and the door remains open to their WRC ambitions. We look forward to continue working with them.”
FIA WRC category manager Andrew Wheatley added: “Ypres Rally Belgium stepped in last season in exceptional circumstances and managed to deliver a strong and innovative event, which showcased the DNA of Belgian rally.
“The Royal Automobile Club Belgium, together with local organizer Club Superstage, demonstrated commitment and professionalism to put on a top-class WRC round and I’m glad the event will return to the calendar in August. In a rally nation like Belgium, this will be positive news for teams, competitors and fans.”
Ypres organizer and president of Club Superstage Alain Penasse praised the effort of his team.
“We are very happy to be able to bring the FIA World Rally Championship to Ypres again,” said Penasse. “It is a reward for the efforts that the whole club, all volunteers, our partners and local authorities put in last year to make that first edition a success.”