Round eight of 12
ERC leader Kopecký sets stunning pace to hold home advantage. Jan Kopecký has claimed a lockout of stage wins to lead Barum Czech Rally Zlín by more than half a minute after leg one of the FIA European Rally Championship counter.
Driving a ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000 on MICHELIN’s PILOT Sport R asphalt tyre, the ERC title leader set the pace on Friday night’s superspecial through the streets of host city Zlín before going undefeated on all eight stages that made up Saturday’s action.
“I’ve tried to go very fast with no big risks but it’s not been easy and I’ve had to be very concentrated,” said Kopecký, who has also earned seven ERC bonus points for winning the leg. “My ŠKODA has been perfect and everything has been good with the car. We have been enjoying and this is important but there could be rain overnight and this will make it difficult tomorrow.”
Václav Pech, competing in the ERC for the first time since the opening round in Austria back in January, is second overall – 37.5s down on Kopecký – in his MINI John Cooper Works S2000 with Roman Kresta, a three-time winner in Zlín, completing the overnight all-Czech podium in his self-run Fabia. Jaromír Tarabus, who took fourth from German Sepp Wiegand on the final stage, could have been higher up the order but for a one-minute time penalty handed out for an early check-in.
Behind Wiegand, Miroslav Jakeš leads the FIA ERC Production Car Cup in sixth place with Antonín Tlusťák overcoming a broken rear differential to hold seventh for GPD Mit Metal Racing Team. Germain Bonnefis is a strong eighth for Team Renault Sport Technologies with Jaroslav Orsák ninth and team-mate Robert Kořistka 10th. Orsák led the ERC Production Car Cup section overnight but slipped back when a rear differential failure left his Mitsubishi Lancer in front-wheel-drive mode during the morning loop of three stages. Renault’s challenge was halved when Robert Consani crashed his Mégane RS on stage four going through a compression.
While Kopecký has enjoyed a trouble-free day, factory ŠKODA team-mate Esapekka Lappi was prevented from starting Saturday’s final two stages after damage inflicted to his Fabia S2000’s roll cage when he went off the road and hit a tree on stage six proved too great to allow him to continue on his Zlín debut.
Toshi Arai was another driver to fail to make it through leg one. Having been hampered by an engine misfire from the start, the Yokohama-shod Subaru driver stopped for good with broken steering on his Stohl Racing entry. Marco Tempestini is the lead Napoca Rally Academy driver despite a few mechanical gremlins masking the Romanian driver’s true pace.
Peugeot 208 R2 driver Jan Černý heads the FIA ERC 2WD Championship section from rapid Austrian Hermann Neubauer (Suzuki Swift S1600) following a dramatic day. Overnight leader Egon Smékal lost top spot with an off on stage three, Hannes Danzinger crashed in the rain on stage six, title leader Zoltán Bessenyey feared he would roll going off on stage seven in his Eurosol-Honda Civic Type R entry, while a double puncture has slowed Kornél Lukács on his first run in the ERC in a Renault Clio R3. Molly Taylor tops the ERC Ladies’ Trophy for the United Business Rally Team with points leader Ekaterina Stratieva in third.
Tomáš Kostka started Saturday’s opening stage in third overall but gradually dropped back as he struggled to adapt the set-up of his Ford Fiesta R5 for the bumpy roads that form the backdrop to Rally Zlín. Broken transmission put him out on stage six. Pavel Valoušek, in the second Fiesta R5, was delayed by a puncture and loss of powersteering.
Leg two features six stages over a competitive distance of 103.86 kilometres and begins with the 23.66-kilometre Maják stage at 08:53hrs local time on Sunday.
A brand-new app for iPhone and android provides live timing, news and other essential information as well as live ERC Rally Radio. Visit the new ERC website, www.fiaerc.com. Follow the ERC on Facebook and Twitter and watch the action on Eurosport and Eurosport Player.
source: fiaerc.com, eurosport.com