2018 British Rally Champion Matt Edwards and co-driver Patrick Walsh in their Yuasa backed Ford Fiesta R5 took a dramatic win on the classic Renties Ypres Rally – the much-anticipated overseas round for the British Rally Championship. For Edwards and his M-Sport team they repeated their 2018 win in fine style to take maximum BRC points, sixth overall and with it the Tony Pond Award for the highest placed British crew.
After the mid-season summer break, the British Rally Championship returned to action with the legendary Ypres Rally providing the challenge for the best of British runners. Under sweltering heat, the fourth round of the series would be played out on the Tarmac roads in the Flanders region with huge crowds enjoying the ditch-cutting exploits from the visiting crews.
As well as picking up season rivalries, the Britain’s premier rallying championship runners were to go up against the Belgian Championship teams and some of the world’s best drivers including Kevin Abbring, Freddy Loix and WRC star Craig Breen. It was to be former BRC star Breen who would win the event outright with Paul Nagle in their VW Polo but the action behind was to be red-hot in the British Championship classifications.
23 stages over a two-day long event would provide a crucial point in the championship with Ypres providing the make or break point in the calendar.
The battle at the front would continue with a fight for top British Championship honours with Cave leading Edwards – the duo blanketed by a mere eight seconds at the overnight halt.
Cave from the lead had his own problems with a puncture and buckled wheel haemorrhaged time to sparring partner Edwards – dropping over 47 seconds in the process. However, it wasn’t to be plain sailing for Edwards either as the same ECU gremlins which occurred 12 months ago returned. That didn’t hold the Welshman back as he wrung the neck of his Ford Fiesta R5 for the rest of the final day. Cave tried all he could, but elected to settle for second and take vital championship points as he finished 56.1 seconds adrift and one place behind Edwards in the overall leader board in seventh.
Edwards showed why he is reigning champion as he pushed on when the car was at its peak but nursed it when it was wounded and managed the gap to take back-to-back Ypres BRC victories.
“We had a fairly uneventful first leg and then after that on the quiet we were managing quite a severe misfire and we didn’t want to let on too much. We tried changing everything on the final day, like we did 12 months ago and it really tested us, but we battled on and got through it and thanks to the team for keeping us going and in the fight. There is something about this event as the car never plays up at any other time! It was very stressful to manage everything, especially in the demanding heat but this important win means that the championship is really, on as we tie with Tom [Cave]. I think I may have an advantage on the Ulster after the win last year and I am confident I can take this form into the final two rounds.”
The next round of the Championship will be the Today’s Ulster Rally (16-17 August).