Victory at home!

Hi everybody,

I discovered Ypres back in 1998, with its condensed, super technical and so specific route. I was opening the road for David Loix et Cédric Pirotte… and I still was an amateur regarding pace notes!
Two decades later, it’s a great honor for Thierry and I to add our names to the winners’ list of Belgium’s most prestigious rally.

When Hyundai Belgium offered us to drive here in Ypres, we didn’t hesitate a single second. Especially since the make wanted us to do this for de Rode Neuzen Dag, a charity helping teenagers facing psychological problems.

And then… what a reception from our Belgian fans. We never expected such a fever… this brought so much joy in our hearts and what a great moral booster!

Even if everyone considered us as frontrunners, Ypres rally is not exactly a leisurely drive. The stages are so demanding and technical, you really need to stay focus. It was also a good way to get out our comfort zone for a week-end, since we swapped our WRC for an i20R5 from the BRC team.

From the first meters, we found the good rythme. We pushed hard and avoided all the tricks – unlike many other crews – to quickly take the lead and keep it till the end. It’s such a great pleasure to drive on these unique roads, to dive in the cuts and anticipate the surface changes… a proper challenge for a co-driver too!

But what really makes Ypres unique is its Parc fermé, quite possibly the most beautiful and most crowded in the world. The atmosphere is unique…  the heart of the rally beats in this town.

Once again, thanks a million to our fans from Belgium and abroad for this amazing support, see you all in Finland!

Suspense up to the end!

Hi everybody,

It’s hard to think of a more incredible race than this edition of Rally Sardegna!
It’s without a doubt one of the best moments of my career, the kind of thing I was dreaming of when I was a child, watching Colin McRae on TV. 😀

We knew this would be a tough rally… especially the first day. Opening the road is always tricky on these super dusty tracks. But the weather was on our side, and the heavy rain falls made the Sardinian roads look a bit like Wales Rally GB.
In those conditions, we managed to stay in the top 3 before starting day two.

On Saturday, the battle for the win quickly turned into a ‘mano a mano’ with the five times World Champion Sébastien Ogier. After 2 stages, he had a 20 second lead, but there was no way we would give up the fight. Thierry, our Hyundai, the team and I were in total symbiosis (our mechanics even managed to change our fuel tank in less than 30 minutes!). Thierry was flying, I was reading my pace notes quicker and more precisely than ever and we were 14 seconds faster than the Frenchman in the following stage. From that moment, we knew it was game on.

There were 4 stages left on Sunday to make the difference.

10th per 10th, second per second, we managed to get some time back and ended the day just 3.9′ behind the M-Sport driver. Thierry and I pushed at every single moment, without a rest, at every single corner, every single junction, every single jump! The gap was down to 0.8′ before the Power Stage.

On the finish line, after giving it everything, we won the rally for 0.7′! Hard to describe how one feels on a moment like that! 😀

That result is also a great step in the race for the title as we now have a 27 points lead.

Last but not least, as today is Father’s Day in Belgium, we want to dedicate this victory to our dads and heroes, Alain and Carl!

Next step, rally Finland!