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Morecambe rally co-driver Tom Woodburn will make first competitive outing in Belgium for five years this week, as he tackles round two of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship, The Yenties Ypres Rally (22/23 June) alongside current Junior series leader, Steve Rokland.

Woodburn, 23, guided the Norwegian to a dominant win on the opening round of the series at the Pirelli International Rally, taking fastest time all but one stages of the event to cross the finish ramp over a minute ahead of the nearest rival in their Peugeot 208 R2.

Despite being in his eighth year of competition and enjoying success in Kenya, Barbados and Scandinavia as well as the UK, Woodburn has somewhat less experience of the forthcoming Belgian roads. However, his short-lived outing in 2013 at the Monteberg Rally Sprint will be a valuable asset for the pre-event favourites as Rokland has never visited in the country before.

As the championship makes the shift from the gravel of Kielder forest in Cumbria to the closed public roads of Belgium the aim for Woodburn will undoubtedly be to extend his seven-point lead in the championship standings, despite the tough competition in the Junior BRC category.

After a dream start to the season, the Lancastrian is eager to build on the success of the opening round back in April.

“I knew that we would be competitive in Carlisle but winning the Pirelli by such a margin was a real confidence boost for Steve and I and a great way to start the season,” says Woodburn.

“It wasn’t without its issues either, so we could have easily had a bigger gap to play with, but the result was important and it’s vital we carry that momentum into Ypres. The change of surface will be a challenge and we haven’t had much chance to test on asphalt beforehand so I`ll need to ensure we take a mature approach to the event, certainly for day one until we know what our pace is like.”

The Ypres Rally will see a significant entry from across Europe and beyond heading to the historic town, aiming to tame the notoriously tricky super-fast Belgian roads. It will be Woodburn’s job to ensure the duo make the most of their Junior lead.

“There is a bit of pressure on this weekend to make sure we capitalise on our lead” he continues.

“The pace in the Juniors is pretty intense and we can’t afford to relax with some very experienced tar experts in the series to worry about. I`ll be keeping a close eye on our times and help Steve find a comfortable pace we can stick to without taking risks. It’s a huge rally, and I’m looking forward to the legendary atmosphere out there but it’s going to be a tough one”.

The Yenties Ypres Rally takes place on over 278km of special stage action surrounding the rally base in the town.

Image : Jakob Ebrey Photography

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