The Tuthill Porsche 997 R-GT of François Delecour and Dominique Savignoni enjoyed a good first day on the 2015 Ypres Rally, setting top ten stage times while holding the lead of the R-GT category. In this year’s Ypres Historic Rally, the Tuthill Porsche 911 of Glenn Janssens holds an overall lead of twenty-three seconds overnight.
ERC Ypres Rally 2015
Drivers described the first few stages as very slippery when the rally got started in the late afternoon. Having set the fastest R-GT time in yesterday’s qualifying, the 4-litre 997 GT3 RS rally car of Porsche works driver, Romain Dumas, was awarded tenth spot in the day’s running order. Tuthill’s 3.8-litre 997 GT3 was running further back in 29th place, leaving François and Dominique at the mercy of any problems which might befall the cars in front.
Belgium’s deceptive terrain dealt numerous scares on the first seven stages. A number of cars ran wide on their early runs, clipping kerbs, bending wheels and dragging gravel back on to the road. Having set the quickest times on the first two stages, Dumas went the wrong way at a junction in SS3. While Romain estimated the time lost at ‘maybe two seconds’, the error handed the lead to Delecour’s Porsche 911.
The next stage also went Delecour’s way, as the rally legend finished two seconds up on Dumas. By the time of first service, François and Dominique were more than four seconds out front in the R-GT category. The car was running without issue, so a quick tyre change and we were back in the hunt.
Showers hit the start of stage five, making the course very slippery. Citroen driver, Kevin Abbring, set an exceptional time over stage five, almost eight seconds quicker than Ireland’s Craig Breen, but then destroyed the car in a huge barrel roll on the following stage, showing how important it is to balance speed and safety in Belgium.
As night fell over Ypres, Dumas set blistering times on stages six and seven. François went as quick as he dared, but that 4-litre power kept Romain in front, extending the lead by another four seconds. We finished the day in eleventh place overall, holding second position amongst the four cars in R-GT: six seconds down on Dumas, with a long way left to go.
“It’s been a great first day in Ypres,” said team boss, Richard Tuthill. “Firstly, it’s just lovely to be here with three of our Porsche 911 rally cars, spanning almost fifty years of 911 production. François has a great battle on his hands in R-GT, and that drive to compete is why we are here. Good sport and hats off to Romain for doing such a great job.
“As for Glenn Janssens in the Belgian Historic Rally Championship, he has had a great start: setting fastest times on both stages this evening and holding a twenty-three second lead overnight. Howard Redhouse is eleventh overall with a few moments, but gently getting used to his new 1965 Porsche 911 rally car. Best rally in Europe: happy days!”
Day two of the 2015 Ypres Rally brings ten stages and three service intervals. We’ll attack it with everything we’ve got: it should be very exciting! Follow our live updates throughout day two on the Tuthill Porsche Twitter feed.
Pics by Tuthill Porsche and Andre Lavadinho @world