Round eight of 12, 30 August-1 September
TARMAC TEST AWAITS ERC HEROES IN CZECH REPUBLIC
One of Europe’s most challenging rallies due to the proliferation of high-speed blasts through forests, sections of broken Tarmac, a high likelihood of intermittent showers and the bumpy nature of some of the roads, the rally attracts thousands of fans each year. And to make watching the action even easier, there’s an additional visit to the permanent service park in Otrokovice on day one to give spectators more time to travel safely between the stages.
Night fever on the streets
As is tradition on Barum Czech Rally Zlín, the host city stages the opening superspecial through its central area from 21:15hrs local time on Friday 30 August. Measuring 9.36 kilometres in length the stage is effectively three laps of a temporary course in Zlín’s central area and crosses a railway line at one point. Large numbers of fans turn out to watch and with the stage taking place under the cover of darkness an electric atmosphere is guaranteed.
Tweaked format for 2013
Event organisers have moved away from the four stages, service, four stages format of the past to a new system of three stages, service, three stages, service and two stages on leg one on Saturday 31 August. The four stages are Biskupice, Troják, Semetín and Pindula. The second Pindula test will be run at night with service once again housed in the grounds of the Barum Continental factory in Otrokovice. Sunday’s leg consists of three stages, service and a final three stages before the finish in Zlín in the afternoon. However, the Maják stage will run in an opposite direction from Zlín to Topolná, while the remaining two tests, Jankovice and Zlutava, will both follow brand new formats.
The future of the ERC, right here, right now
Two cars built to the exciting new-generation R5 regulations compete for glory in Zlín. Czech drivers Tomáš Kostka and Pavel Valoušek will both be behind the wheel of the M-Sport-developed machines. And they’ll do so in the knowledge that the car is already a winner following Oleksandr Saliuk’s success on the Aleksandrov Rally in Ukraine recently. While Rally Zlín marks the Fiesta R5’s competitive debut in the ERC, Thierry Neuville used a Fiesta R5 as a course car on the Geko Ypres Rally in late June, a handful of days prior to the car being approved for competition use. The car proved to be extremely fast even though it wasn’t eligible for stage times.
ERC Ladies’ Trophy gets new recruit
Czech Martina Daňhelová will make her ERC Ladies’ Trophy debut in Zlín. Driving a Renault Clio Sport, Daňhelová will go up against category regulars Ekaterina Stratieva and Molly Taylor, who are a point apart in the race for the coveted accolade.
Home heroes in action
Of the 102 crews entered for Barum Czech Rally Zlín, 68 are from Czech Republic with current European championship leader and two-time event winner Jan Kopecký topping the entry for ŠKODA Motorsport. Other notable Czechs competing on their home round of the ERC are former Zlín winners Roman Kresta and Václav Pech and GPD Mit Metal Racing Team’s Antonín Tlusťák, an ever-present in this year’s ERC. As well as taking on his countrymen in his pursuit of a third victory in Zlín, Kopecký will have to beat promising Finn Esapekka Lappi and German hope Sepp Wiegand, who form part of Czech make ŠKODA’s star-studded attack. Bryan Bouffier has been forced to withdraw his entry due to a lack of funding.
Serious competition in ERC Production Car Cup…
It’s not just the battle for outright victory that will thrill in Czech Republic: the ERC Production Car Cup will also be hotly contested with local ace Jaroslav Orsák bidding to seize the title initiative for the GPD Mit Metal Racing Team. However, top Japanese driver, Toshi Arai will be gunning for success in his Stohl Racing Subaru Impreza R4 STI. The all-French Team Renault Sport Technologies line-up of Germain Bonnefis and Robert Consani will also impress, as will Hungarian András Hadik, who shone on his ERC debut in Ypres, and Napoca Rally Academy father-and-son Marco and Simone Tempestini.
… and in ERC 2WD Championship too
The race for ERC 2WD Championship honours will be another Zlín highlight with top Czech Jan Černý, the reigning ERC 2WD champion, returning to the fray in a Peugeot 208 R2. Černý started the season in a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 but has since switched to the 208 R2. Despite his knowledge of the stages and class win in Zlín last year, Černý will face strong opposition from category pacesetters Zoltán Bessenyey (Eurosol-Honda Civic Type R) and Kornél Lukács, who switches from a Citroën C2R2 to a Renault Clio R3. Leading Austrians Hannes Danzinger and Hermann Neubauer and Italian driver Elwis Chentre will also be back on ERC duty, as will Renato Pita, who is promoting a road safety initiative in his native Portugal as part of his ERC bid.
Q&A: ANTONIN TLUSTAK
GPD Mit Metal Racing Team’s home hero on fond memories and the challenge ahead
As a Czech driver what does it mean to you to compete on your home round of the ERC?
“For us it‘s the most prestigious event of the year. Especially when we are really at home and the stages are only few kilometres from my house. On the other hand, I have big responsibility, big pressure from my sponsors and the spectators – I need to make a good result. Barum Czech Rally Zlín is for sure the best rally in the Czech Republic and one of the best events in the European Rally Championship.”
What are the main challenges you face as a driver on Barum Czech Rally Zlín?
“Barum Czech Rally Zlin is a very specific event. The stages are quite fast, very tricky on bumpy Tarmac. The rhythm is changing very often and there is a lot of gravel on the road because of cutting. A very unpredictable factor is the changeable weather. Each event in the European Rally Championship is different, with different types of roads, surfaces and other characteristics. This is one of the strongest points of ERC.”
What’s your earliest memory of the rally and what’s your best memory from competing on the event?
“When I was a child, I was going to watch Barum Rally as a spectator. My earliest memory is from 1989 when my father was a chief of special stage polygon Desna, which was used as a secret test track for the Audi Sport factory team in the 1980s. In that year I was helping my father during the night to roll the gravel part of this polygon with a roller. The next day there was live coverage of this stage on TV including the famous roll of Ivo Polášek with a ŠKODA 130L. And my best memory? It was in 2009, when I won the 2WD category on the rally with a big advantage with my Citroën C2 S1600 and became ERC 2WD champion for that season.”
How will you prepare for the rally?
“I would like to prepare for the Barum Rally physically like I do for the other events, but it is not easy. As it is my home event, I must organise a lot of things around for my friends, partners, colleagues and VIP guests, so there is not so much time for ideal training.”
What’s your target for the event?
“My target is to finish and to place as high as possible. I would prefer not to say the exact position, because in the past when I told it, the result was bad.”
*Zlín might never have prospered had it not been for one Tomáš Bat’a, who founded a shoe factory there in 1894 and watched the town flourish into a university city. Bat’a’s old office still exists in the city’s Building 21, which houses rally HQ
*Such is the global appeal of Barum Czech Rally Zlín internationally that 20 nations will be represented on this year’s event
*Despite Zlín being ŠKODA’s home round of the ERC, the Czech make doesn’t dominate the list of participating manufacturers numerically with two less than Renault, which has 20 cars in action. However, with nine Fabia Super 2000s competing, ŠKODA comfortably tops the S2000 stakes
*When it comes to event loyalty, Italian Marco Cavigioli is right up there, with the 2013 edition of Barum Czech Rally Zlín marking his 15th appearance on the rally. Meanwhile, the event itself, which runs for a 43rd time in 2013, has been part of the ERC since 1983 and an ever-present since the ERC’s restructuring in 2004
*Soups and roast pork with dumpling and sauerkraut are popular Czech dishes
- EVENT ESSENTIALS
- Starts: 17:00hrs, Friday 30 August, Náměstí Míru Square, Zlín
- Finishes: 16:00hrs, Sunday 1 September, Náměstí Míru Square, Zlín
- Headquarters: Building 21, 761 90 Zlín
- Service park: Barum Continental factory, Otrokovice
- Facts and figures:
- Entries received: 102
- ERC appearances: 10 (since restructuring of ERC in 2004)
- Stages: 15
- Stage distance: 234.78 kilometres (130.92 kilometres leg one, 103.86 kilometres leg two)
- Liaison: 486.50 kilometres
- Total: 721.28 kilometres
- Surface: Asphalt
source: www.fiaerc.com, eurosport.com