Estonian rally star Ott Tänak has got off to a good start in the 2021 Renties Ypres Rally Belgium, as he searches for a second victory of the season. Tänak took second place in the 9.81-kilometer Langemark test Friday, behind Hyundai teammate Thierry Neuville, who is racing in his home event.
Tänak said expects a tough weekend at Ypres, Belgium, where round eight of the championship starts Friday. "I have seen shots of Ypres and this is of course a very famous rally."
"While the road seems very straight at times, there are still deep ditches, which make driving very difficult. We were able to practice there last year … and felt like a difficult weekend was coming," he added, via a Hyundai WRC press release.
The 2020 event was canceled due to the pandemic.
The action is underway at #YpresRally with shakedown: a chance to check the feeling on these tricky Belgian roads before the rally begins this afternoon! #ToyotaGAZOORacing #PushingTheLimitsForBetter #YarisWRC #WRC pic.twitter.com/rxtaxxjTQc— Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT (@TGR_WRC) August 13, 2021
Tänak added that he and co-driver Martin Järveoja are looking to improve on their last ashphalt-based race in Croatia, in April, where the pair finished fourth.
"We have had time to use the car at the [non-championship] Alba rally since, so we hope that Ypres will go better," Tänak, the 2019 world champion, added.
In the event, Tänak and Järveoja were second in the Hyundai i20 in the 9.81-kilometer test with a time of 4.23.3. Their teammate Thierry Neuville, and his co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe were first (4.22.5), while season table-leader Sebastien Ogier was third in the Toyota Yaris, with a time of 4.24.6.
The rally continues on Friday afternoon, with the first stage proper starting at 2..36 p.m., Estonian time.
The Ypres Rally is the 56th of its kind, and follows a 295.78-kilometer course of narrow and slippery roads where they encounter a variety of different asphalt surfaces and have to negotiate fast bends without coming to grief in the many ditches that line the route.
The final day of racing, on Sunday, heads to the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, more familiar as the long-time home of the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix.
The race has 20 stages (see below), with stage one proper starting a little after 2.30 p.m. Estonian time.
Tänak's sole win in the 2021 season so far was at Rovaniemi, Finland, in the Arctic Rally back in February, while his home rally last month ended in disappointment as tire failure on the first full day of the race knocked him out of the top 10.
Toyota veteran Sebastien Ogier leads the drivers' table with 148 points as he chases his eighth world title, followed by Welshman Elfyn Evans, last season's runner-up, who has 111 points going into this weekend's race. Neuville is third with 96 points.
2021 Renties Ypres Rally Belgium full schedule of stages, with stage distance, start time, and stage winner in italics
Testikatse Langemark (9.81 km) 9.01 T. Neuville (Hyundai)
SS1 Reninge Vleteren 1 (15.00 km) 14.36
SS2 Westouter - Boeschepe 1 (19.60 km) 15.25
SS3 Kemmelberg 1 (23.62 km) 16.15
SS4 Zonnebeke 1 (9.45 km) 17.09
SS5 Reninge - Vleteren 2 (15.00km) 19.15
SS6 Westouter - Boeschepe 2 (19.60 km) 20.04
SS7 Kemmelberg 2 (23.62 km) 20.54
SS8 Zonnebeke 2 (9.45 km) 21.48
SS9 Hollebeke 1 (23.53 km) 10.11
SS10 Dikkebus 1 (12.49 km) 11.08
SS11 Watou 1 (13.62 km) 12.01
SS12 Mesen - Middelhoek 1 (7.99 km) 12.51
SS13 Hollebeke 2 (25.86 km) 15.11
SS14 Dikkebus 2 (12.49 km) 16.08
SS15 Watou 2 (13.62 km) 17.01
SS16 Mesen - Middelhoek 2 (7.99 km) 17.51
SS17 Stavelot 1 (9.05 km) 9.30
SS18 Francorchamps 1 (11.21 km) 10.08
SS19 Stavelot 2 (9.05 km) 11.40
SS20 Francorchamps 2 (11.21 km) 13.18
Editor: Andrew Whyte