*Huge number underlines popularity of all-action European championship
*Forty-nine ERC priority drivers tackle Czech Tarmac showcase
*Event attracts 151 entries from 23 countries
A season-record 37 R5 cars are entered for next week’s Barum Czech Rally Zlín, round six of the FIA European Rally Championship.
Of those, 28 hold ERC priority status, with seven chasing success in the ERC Junior Under 28 division led by points pacesetter Marijan Griebel and his Peugeot Rally Academy-run rival Pepe López.
Double champion and new ERC title leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz tops the overall list with 2013 European champion and five-time Zlín winner Jan Kopecký seeded number two for the factory ŠKODA squad followed by Bruno Magalhães, Alexey Lukyanuk and Bryan Bouffier, who claimed victory on the last ERC round in Poland.
Other R5 highlights include Jan Černý, Tomáš Kostka, Roman Kresta, Václav Pech, Pavel Valoušek, ERC stalwart Antonín Tlusťák, Russian rising star Nikolay Gryazin, French Tarmac champion Sylvain Michel, Polish title winners past and present Łukasz Habaj and Grzegorz Grzyb, Slovakian hopeful Martin Koči, Irish prospect Josh Moffett, Castrol Ford Team Turkey’s Murat Bostanci, plus Dávid Botka and ERC rookies Jarek Szeja and Albert von Thurn und Taxis.
In total, a 2017-best 49 crews will hold ERC priority status and enjoy the benefits that brings with ERC Junior Under 27 contenders Chris Ingram, Jari Huttunen and Aleks Zawada, plus ERC2 leader Zelindo Melegari also set for action on the all-asphalt event from 27-29 August.
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “The entry list for Barum Czech Rally Zlín is truly fantastic with a season-record 37 R5 cars just one of the highlights. This strong level of interest demonstrates the appeal of the ERC to all-comers and particularly young hopefuls building their knowledge and experience of a highly competitive and demanding event in order to make the step to the world championship one day. Despite the fact we’re into the second half of the season when budgetary concerns can be an issue for drivers, there’s more and more demand for the ERC. And with all the various European championships up for grabs there’s going to be plenty of interest from fans and media. It’s going to be a very exciting rally.”
The full entry list can be found here.