Juho Hänninen wrote his name in golden letters on the result sheet of the Geko Ypres Rally 2012. It is an exceptional performance for a Finn to win on these roads. Only the belated Toivonen managed a similar feat.
The year was 1984, the great era of the Group B cars. The extremely talented Henri Toivonen (Porsche 911 RS) outclassed Patrick Snijers (idem) by beating him by more than 5 minutes (Jean-Claude Andruet was originally second at 27’’ on his Lancia Rally 037, but he was subsequently disqualified). Now, 30 years later and for his third participation only to the Ypres Rally, Juho Hänninen (Škoda Fabia S2000) is the second « Flying Finn » to win on the very typical roads of the Westhoek. This is the third win of Škoda here and the first one for the team of Mladá Boleslav without Freddy Loix at the wheel. He moved to the competition this year (Peugeot 207 S2000) and tried to push his rival into making a mistake by driving on the limit everywhere, but to no avail. He didn’t win, but he did ensure this event was never boring. Without him, the super advanced Škodas of the factory team would have had no competition what so ever.
Looking at the overall standings, things are pretty obvious. Pieter Tsjoen (Škoda Fabia S2000) comes in third, but a full 2 minutes 15 seconds behind the leader whereas fourth place Patrick Snijers is nearly three minutes adrift. Which doesn’t mean both drivers did not perform well. Their performance was faultless, their local knowledge playing in their favour. Within the Belgian Championship, Patrick did not manage to beat Pieter, who clearly seems unbeatable this season.
Fifth and sixth are Michal So?owow (Peugeot 207 S2000) and Patrik Flodin (Ford Fiesta S2000). They are in front of another Belgian : Mathias Viaene (Peugeot 207 S2000). He had some issues this morning, but managed to claw back time and get back to seventh position overall (after having fallen back to 17th spot earlier). Vincent Verschueren (VW Polo S2000) could have been ahead of him, but he lost a wheel in the last stage and had to retire. Antonin Tlustak (Škoda Fabia S2000) benefited of this exit and gets back into the Top 10, just behind Andreas Aigner (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) who wins Production class with a two minutes lead on Bob Colsoul (Mitsubishi Lancer EvoX).
We also want to mention the fantastic 12th spot of Martin Kangur (Honda Civic Type R) who wins the 2WD category. Melissa Debackere (Citroën DS3 R3T) and Davy Vanneste (Citroën C2 R2 MAX) were second and third. The Citroën clan saw some serious « exits » amongst which those of Caren Burton, Kevin Demaerschalk and Quentin Gilbert.
The Ford Fiesta SportTrophy goes to Xavier Baugnet who managed to fend off the attacks of the very young Thibault Radoux.
In summary, a race without real surprises. But we sure witnessed a great event, without any doubt thanks to the exceptional driving of Freddy Loix.
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