Tuthill Porsche duo, François Delecour and Dominique Savignoni, extended their lead at the top of the 2015 R-GT Cup last weekend, following a dramatic twist in the Ypres Rally, second round of the inaugural FIA R-GT championship.
With four R-GT cars entered in Belgium, Ypres was the strongest round yet for the fledgling GT rally car series. Porsche works World Endurance Championship driver, Romain Dumas, was again competing in his Porsche 997 GT3 RS 4.0 rally car, while former Ypres Rally winners Patrick Snijers and Marc Duez had also entered R-GT Porsches.
Dumas set the quickest time in qualifying, with Delecour’s 3.8-litre Porsche GT3 close behind. Fast qualifying times meant Dumas would run amongst the front runners, on roads with more dust and less grip. With the risk of errors always high in Ypres, Delecour was keen to take advantage of any mistakes up front.
Dumas’ first stage times were quick, but an error at a junction handed the lead to Delecour. The Tuthill 911 set top ten stage times, but the 4-litre Porsche had an advantage on dry Tarmac, and eventually found its way back to the front.
The French rivals set identical stage times on the first stage of day two: both cars spinning on the slippery surface. Dumas stretched his advantage before disaster struck for Delecour mid-morning, when his car cut out mid-stage with an apparent electrical issue. After some minutes, the drivers followed the reset procedure and restarted the car, but the mishap had left them well down the order.
Victory was now out of the question, but all was not lost in the championship. Delecour returned with the bit between his teeth, chasing the Porsche of Duez for a third position worth fifteen points in the championship. As the rally reached its penultimate stage, the pendulum of fate swung back to Dumas, who overshot a junction into a wall of hay bales, retiring immediately. Delecour redoubled his pursuit of Duez to finish second in the R-GT reckoning.
“Hats off to Romain Dumas for a great competition this weekend,” said Tuthill team boss, Richard Tuthill. “Second place is a good result for the R-GT championship. Our other cars have also taken wins in the historic event, so we leave here very happy.
“Now we look towards round three: WRC Rallye Deutschland. Tuthill Porsche brought the first R-GT car to this event last year, and we’re delighted to see R-GT growing, with four cars fighting in Ypres. This series has only just started and the excitement this weekend has been incredible. We can’t wait to get back to Germany!”