After 4 consecutive gravel rallies (Portugal, Italia-Sardegna, Safari Kenya, Estonia), the World Rally Championship returned on tarmac, for the debut of Ypres Rally Belgium in the series.
The specific character of demanding asphalt stages, which require big amount of experience, combined with the fact that a few WRC stars had participated at the Belgian rally in the past, made Thierry Neuville-Martijn Wydaeghe and (secondarily) Craig Breen-Paul Nagle, considered as favorites for victory.
This judgment was proved correct, as local heroes Neuville-Wydaeghe claimed in Ypres Rally, their first win as crew. That way, Neuville returned to the top spot of the podium since Rally Monte Carlo 2020 and Hyundai, since Rally Arctic Finland last February.
By repeating their performance in Rally Estonia, Craig Breen-Paul Nagle formed the first 1-2 finish for their team in 2021, helping in reducing the gap from Toyota at the Manufacturers' Championship standings.
The third podium place became a "Toyota" case. Fresh after their first win in Estonia, Kalle Rovanpera-Jonne Halttunen prevailed of their more experienced teammates and finished on the podium for the second consecutive rally.
Elfyn Evans-Scott Martin finished fourth, whilst Sebastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia were fifth, both driving Toyota Yaris WRC. The top-6 was completed by Ott Tanak-Martin Jarveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), who lost approximately 3 minutes due to a puncture that forced them to stop and change the wheel in a stage, during the second day.
Yohan Rossel-Alexandre Coria (Citroen C3 Rally2) finished 7th overall and won WRC3. The Frenchmen were followed, both in general classification and WRC3 by Belgians Pieter Cracco-Jasper Vermeulen (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo).
The top-10 was rounded by Germans Fabian Kreim-Christian Frank (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5), who didn't participate in WRC3 classification and Vincent Veschueren-Filip Cuvelier (Volkswagen Polo R5), who also claimed third podium place for WRC3.
Finns Jari Huttunen-Mikko Lukka, who where the only crew to finish without SupeRally in this championship, won WRC2, in the competitive debut of brand new Hyundai i20 N Rally2.
Among factory and semi-works crews, Adrien Fourmaux-Renaud Jamoul (Ford Fiesta WRC), Gus Greensmith-Chris Patterson (Ford Fiesta WRC), Pierre Louis Loubet-Florian Haut Labourdette (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) and Takamoto Katsuta-Keaton Williams (Toyota Yaris WRC), all retired after going off road.
Ypres Rally Belgium
Special Stages: 19 (one was cancelled)
Lenght: 286,33 km
Final Classification – Top 10
1 T. Neuville-M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 2:30.24,2
2 C. Breen-P. Nagle Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC + 30.7
3 K. Rovanpera-J. Halttunen Toyota Yaris WRC +43.1
4 E. Evans-S. Martin Toyota Yaris WRC +49.6
5 S. Ogier-J. Ingrassia Toyota Yaris WRC +55.8
6 O. Tanak-M. Jarveoja Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +3:46.5
7 Y. Rossel-A. Coria Citroen C3 Rally2 (1οι WRC3) +12:14.9
8 P. Cracco-J. Vermeulen Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo (2οι WRC3) +13:05.9
9 F. Kreim-C. Frank Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 +13:13.8
10 V. Veschueren-F. Cuvelier Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 (3οι WRC3) +13:31.1
SS Fastest times: Neuville 7, Breen-Tanak 4, Ogier 2, Evans-Rovanpera 1
Leader/SS: 1 Tanak, 2-3 Breen, 4-20 Neuville