The make-up of the World Rally Championship’s first visit to Belgium has been confirmed with Ypres Rally organizers publicizing Rally Guide 1 for the November 20-22 event.
Traditionally held in late June, Ypres is running five months later this year as a late call up to the WRC calendar following the havoc created by COVID-19.
As the final round of the 2020 season, the event is expected to crown this year’s World Rally Champion. Its route just unveiled has 23 stages over 180 miles, and promises to be a challenging conclusion to the schedule on what are some of the most revered asphalt roads to be found anywhere in the world.
The itinerary is different too. Ypres usually begins on Thursday afternoons, but the shakedown stage will be held on Friday morning before the event proper gets underway in the afternoon, at 1:38pm local time.
There will then be four further stages on the first loop – including a brand new test called Wijtschate – that’s punctuated by a refuel before the first service halt in Ypres’ market square just as the sun begins to set.
That means Friday’s second loop of four stages (the Vleteren test from the first loop isn’t repeated) will all be under the cover of darkness with the final stage of the 65-mile day beginning at 9:27pm.
Saturday is the longest day at 85.9 miles and begins at 9:38am local time. A total of 10 stages will be run across the day with the last two again expected to be held at night.
That concludes the tests in the Flanders region, as the rally then transits 170-miles east to the Stavelot region for Sunday’s stages – a new addition to this year’s Ypres Rally which is normally just a two day affair.
Just four stages will be held on the final day but two of which will use Belgium’s Formula 1 venue Spa-Francorchamps on the same weekend as the World Rallycross Championship.
The second of those will be the powerstage where the 2020 World Rally Champion could be crowned.
Of the WRC field, only Thierry Neuville, Craig Breen and Esapekka Lappi have experience of Ypres.
Neuville won the rally in 2018 and the standalone Ypres Masters event last year, while Breen took victory last year in a Volkswagen Polo R5.
Lappi has just one start in a Škoda Fabia S2000 in 2014 – the year he won the European Rally Championship – but crashed out on SS9.
Rally Guide 1 can be viewed and downloaded here.