Mohammed Bin Sulayem kicks off
It's all systems go! Juha Hänninen was the first to drive over the podium, newly installed in front of the Ypres Court house. He was greeted there by Mohammed Bin Sulayem who is the guest of honour of the rally giving the official start. Bin Sulayem is the Vice President of the FIA (picture).

Duval: straight out

The first stage unfortunately already claimed a few victims amongst the top runners. Francois Duval crashed out in one of the first corners and is forced to retire. Michal Solowow suffered a puncture after paying a visit to one of Flandres' many ditches. He loses 2'51". Patrick Snijers complained about the handling of his Volkswagen Polo and loses nearly one minute on the stage. Nicolas Vouilloz also hit something and lost 2'53" while reaching the finish without front bumper. The engine of Bengué's Corsa gave up on the stage while Melissa Debackere also had an 'off' and had to stop her car a bit further down the stage reportedly with engine problems.

Kris Meeke shows off his excellent form by posting the best time straight away about 1"4 ahead of Freddy Loix. The fight between the two Peugeots looks really promising. Jan Kopecky lost 9"3 on the leader while Bernd Casier followed a further 0"6 down.

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