THE classic Ypres Rally will kick-start the second half of British Rally Championship season.

After three pulsating rounds, the British Rally Championship heads into Europe for round four of the series – the Renties Ypres Rally (June 27-29).

The Belgian event is one of the most iconic rallies in the world and the legendary asphalt lanes in the Flanders region are some of the most challenging stages in Britain’s premier rally series this year.

The BRC summer spectacular will start on Friday afternoon in the heart of Ypres, with the crews being waved off under the shadow of the impressive Cloth Hall in the Grote Markt square.

Crews will then thread their way through two action-filled days comprising of 160 competitive miles in daylight and atmospheric night-time conditions.

Not only will the British Championship crews battle each other for championship points, they will also go toe-to-toe with some of the best in the world, including Craig Breen, Kevin Abbring and former world championship star Freddy Loix, who is an 11-time Ypres Rally winner.

The man in form going into round four is Tom Cave in his Michelin-shod Hyundai i20 R5.

After a retirement on his home round - the Cambrian Rally - Cave has taken back-to-back wins in Cork and Cumbria to lead the standings before the Ypres Rally.

Cave has two previous Belgian visits under his belt, but retirements have denied him a lucrative finish.

With Dale Bowen in the co-driver’s seat, the Welsh pairing will be battling for the BRC win and an outright top five.

Defending Champion Matt Edwards, from Rhos-on-Sea, sits second in the standings.

After clinching the opening round on home soil, the Pirelli-backed driver will be keen to repeat his Ypres performance of 12 months ago.

The M-Sport star snatched the 25 points from Keith Cronin in the final stages of the event – sealing his first BRC Tarmac win in the process.

Edwards and co-driver Patrick Walsh were forced to retire last time out on the Pirelli Rally – provisionally denting their title hopes.

One thing is for sure, the duo never give-up and will be taking the fight to Cave over the weekend as Matt hopes to regain the championship lead.

Marty McCormack is adored by the Belgian rally fans after his stunning performance in 2015 when he pushed his S2000 Skoda Fabia into an impressive eighth overall against the finest in the European Rally Championship.

Now in the R5 derivative of the Skoda Fabia, Ypres has not been too kind to the Irishman with two retirements in as many years. Now with navigator Barney Mitchell alongside, the greatest showmen are eager to back-up their Cambrian Rally podium.

Rhys Yates made everyone sit up and take notice last year when the Englishman dominated Rally van Wervik – a traditional warm-up event for Ypres.

However, all didn’t go to plan on the Ypres Rally itself when a few uncharacteristic offs and an unwell co-driver meant the Skoda Fabia R5 driver had to take an early bath.

Yates and co-driver James Morgan are dovetailing their BRC commitments with a busy schedule in the FIA World Rally Championship this year and like McCormack, Yates would dearly love to chalk-up his first BRC win.

As well as chasing a BRC win and overall podium, BRC stars will be vying for the Tony Pond Award – presented to the first BRC crew across the finish line.

There will also be a junior Tony Pond Award – adding another incentive for rallying’s emerging talent to go for glory in the Flanders region.

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