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This one certainly came out of left field. In a twist that no one saw coming, the Ypres Rally has announced its intentions of joining the British Rally Championship. This news comes just a few days after the director of the rally put out a fairly scathing press release about the European Rally Championship and its lack of manufacturer involvement. When I read that piece earlier in the week, I genuinely thought that the next news to come down the pipeline would be the pursuit of a Belgian WRC event. After all, Ypres wants manufacturers, so where else would they go?
As it turns out, Ypres sees the BRC as a more attractive alternative to the Eurosport promoted ERC. For the organizers of the BRC, this has to be a huge confidence boost. It was less than two years ago that this championship looked to be dead in the water with dwindling entries and then a fatal crash on the Jim Clark Rally. For a major European rally to voice its interest in joining the BRC speaks volumes about how well the BRC organizers have done their jobs in the first year of the reborn championship.
What does this mean for the BRC? Well, this isn’t the first time that a British motorsports championship has held a round across the English Channel. The British GT and Formula 3 championships run over at Spa this year, so the idea isn’t completely novel. However, the logistics of this are interesting. Will this be an additional rally added onto the calendar? Will another British rally be dropped to make room for Ypres? Will this set a precedent for other European events to jump ship from the ERC? It’s early days, but the implications are exciting especially when it comes to manufacturer involvement in the BRC. Could this be the first step in bringing the BRC back to its halcyon days in the F2000 era where there were 6 or 7 manufacturers competing?
Before we leave this story, just keep in mind one interesting tidbit of gossip. The director of the Ypres rally, Alain Penasse, also works for Hyundai WRT… and they have a new R5 car that they are keen on getting out on the stages very soon. Let’s keep an eye on this one, I’ve got a feeling we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.
In the meantime, enjoy Rajd Polski!