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Chesterfield’s Steve Perez guided his potent Lancia Stratos to an impressive seventh overall, third in Category 2 and second FIA registered contender home at last weekend’s Ypres Historic Rally in Belgium.

Perez and co-driver Paul Spooner conquered the intricate closed public roads and, after 13 ditch-lined stages and 120km of special stage driving, secured an impressive result in the Amigos Tequila Beer backed machine. Made even more special as this was Perez’ third attempt at the rally, scoring his first finish in the Dansport prepared Lancia.

The event marked the fourth round of the FIA European Historic Rally Championship and Perez headed to Belgium in sixth place in the Category 2 standings. After an unfortunate early retirement in Spain at the last round, Perez was keen to make ground on his rivals in the series and secure a decent points haul for his championship aspirations.

The Ypres Historic Rally was part of a weekend of motorsport in the region as the modern section of the event housed some of the best drivers in Europe alongside the MSA British Rally Championship which had used the rally as an overseas points scoring round. Historically, the event has always been one of the toughest on the calendar thanks to the ditch-lined closed public roads and unforgiving super-fast tracks.

With the modern machinery at the head of the field pulling gravel onto the roads for those lower down the order, the Historic Rally contenders would have to face additionally tricky sections during the course of the weekend.

Using one of the most crowd-pleasing cars in the championship, Perez would use the opening leg of the event to settle into the 2.4litre V6 powered machine. He wouldn’t have long to acclimatise to the stages before darkness fell however and after the four stages on Friday night, Perez would return to the overnight halt in 12th overall, 6th in Category 2.

The midday restart gave crews time to re-coup and Perez soon began his climb up the leaderboard during the opening loop, the glorious sounding Stratos entertaining the thousands of Belgian crowds who lined the stages.

There was a brief moment of worry for the Chesterfield driver, after taking to one of the many ditches which lined the route on the Kemmelburg test. But thanks to willing spectators, he was soon extracted and went on to climb five places over the closing stages in what was a rally of attrition.

“The Ypres Rally has always been a tough event to master and having failed two out of three times to get the end, I’m really pleased to have scored a finish this time around,” said an elated Perez at the finish. “It’s been a relatively trouble free run too which is a real credit to the Dansport team who run the car, as it can be quite a fragile beast at the best of times. All the rounds of the championship are pretty special but this was probably one of the most enjoyable so far.”

His result in Belgium vaults Perez up the FIA Historic Championship Cat2 leaderboard which is also a welcome boost to the weekend.

“It’s great to see that we are now just a few points away from a podium place in the championship,” he says. “Fourth is a good place to be as we head to the Lahti Historic Rally in July.”

Perez is backed by Amigos Tequila Beer, Kick Motorsport, Zenith Racing and Simpson Race Products.

Images Back Mountains Media

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