A strong field in Group N
Registrations closed a few days ago and obviously, all eyes are on the 25 Super 2000 cars on the grid of the Ypres Rally. These cars are officially running in Group N4 but to the wider public, the real Group N cars are the Mitsubishi's and Subaru's. And the fight also promises to be fierce in this category as many top drivers have chosen for such real Group N.

Flying Dutchman Jasper van den Heuvel won Group N last year and brought his Mitsubishi Evo X home in seventh position, some 4 minutes behind Kris Meeke. This year, the Mitsi's and Subaru's could give the S2000's a closer run for their money as the size of the turbo restrictors has been increased from 32 mm to 33 mm. This increase of about 15 bhp might not be sufficient though as the Group N cars still run a conventional gearbox (sequential in an S2000) and carry much more weight than a Super 2000.

Jasper van den Heuvel will undoubtedly be the man to beat. He knows the roads in Ypres well and his Evo X is fast and reliable. The locals will put up some strong resistance though. The Mitsubishi drivers are well represented with Matthias Viaene, Alexander Romain and Jonas Langenakens. Vincent Verschueren will be present with his well known Subaru Impreza STR09. All 4 drivers are comparable and Verschueren, Viaene and Romain actually are jointly in the lead of the Belgian Championship Group N. Stéphane L'Honnay (Mitsubishi Evo 9) and Melissa De Backere (Subaru Impreza N12b) bring loads of experience to Ypres and could finish well too.

Toshi Arai, Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Yuriy Protasov are the big unknowns here. All three drivers will be in Ypres for the first time. Toshi Arai is without doubt the best known of all three as he won the WRC for production cars twice (2005 and 2007) and is the official Subaru STi driver in Group N. He is not really a tarmac specialist, but he is very experienced.

Kajetan ("Kajto") Kajetanowicz of Poland is a rising star in his home country. He is the official driver of the Subaru Poland Rally Team since last year and is in the lead of the Polish Championship. Earlier this month, he even managed to win the ERC Rally of Poland, beating 11 S2000 cars and top drivers like Bouffier, Rossetti and Kuzaj in the process. It will be his first trip abroad and he mainly wants to gain experience in Ypres. The Subaru Poland car is actually the very first STR10 (i.e. 2010 homologation car) the Belgian Symtech Racing built. Then there is Yuriy Protasov. He was champion of Ukraine in 2008 and competes in the ERC at the moment. His main aim is also to gain experience, but he can be very fast sometimes.

So we expect a great fight in this race as the Group N cars will sure bring us an interesting battle to look forward to!

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