Top award for first placed BRC competitor and Junior BRC Competitor
This year the Ypres Rally is enjoying its 53rd and the SuperStage organisation will be cherishing the glorious past of the Westhoek’s top competition later this month.
The Ypres Rally brought about entire generations of rally enthusiasts. A fair number of today’s top players were as a child bitten by the rally bug as they watched in fascination their favourite heroes tackle the various stages. This is how the passion originated for many of the SueprStage members, among whom Alain Penasse, who either cycled or hitchhiked every evening already weeks before down to the Westhoek to catch a glimpse of the recces.
One of the stalwarts in those days was Tony Pond, the only foreign driver to twice claim victory at the Ypres Rally in 1978 and 1980, on each occasion with Fred Gallagher as co-driver.
In 1978 Tony Pond was sent out to Ypres by British Leyland to show the potential of their new Triumph TR7 V8, the British weapon to take on the Lancia Stratos. Tony Carello, leading the European Championship, put on full pressure during the final night with his works Lancia Stratos, but he crashed off road. Tony Pond at the wheel of the quietly purring TR7 V8 convincingly drove to victory, ahead of Gilbert Staepelaere 3’17″down and Tony Carello 5’59″down. This was the first victory of a Brit at Ypres.
Two years later Pond repeated the feat, once again with a Triumph TR7. It was a gruelling competition, because as from the 201 teams at the start, only a mere 38 reached the finish. One of the victims was Zanini, Pond’s only true major rival, who went off road with his Porsche. Per Eklund, similar to Pond at the wheel of a TR7, came within 29″ of the leader, but then his gearbox broke. Tony Pond clalmed his second victory in Ypres with no less than a 9min14″ lead over Robert Droogmans and “Geron”, better known as Ronny Joosten.
No other foreign competitor has ever twice won the Ypres Rally, and among the British contenders only Jimmy McRae and Kris Meeke have claimed one each.
To pay tribute to the late, great Tony Pond, SuperStage is launching the Tony Pond Trophy as also the Tony Pond Junior Trophy, a trophy for the first competitor of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship at the finish and for the fastest British Junior. The prize will be presented by Fred Gallagher, having been Tony Pond’s guide both in 1978 and 1980.