FIA EUROPEAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 6 OF 8
FIA ERC JUNIOR UNDER U27/ERC JUNIOR UNDER U28 ROUND 4 OF 6
THIRTY-SEVEN R5 DRIVERS READY TO CZECH OUT ERC APPEAL IN ZLÍN
One of the biggest and best rallies on the international calendar has just got bigger and better with a record 37 R5 cars appearing on the entry list for Barum Czech Rally Zlín, next week’s sixth round of the all-action FIA European Rally Championship.
But as well as the outstanding entry, several young stars will take centre stage while chasing some seriously good career progression opportunities in the process.
The FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship is for drivers in R2 cars on Pirelli tyres with the champion receiving 100,000 euros for an ERC Junior Under 28 Championship assault in 2018 when they step up to R5 machinery. Meanwhile, the 2017 ERC Junior U28 champion gets a prize drive on a European round of the world championship in a World Rally Car next season. And there’s more with the ERC Junior Experience training programme continuing in Zlín as drivers gather essential knowledge and experience prior to stepping up from national level to ERC Junior Under 27.
Into its fourth decade as a round of the European championship, Barum Czech Rally Zlín remains huge in terms of challenge, spectator and media interest with this year’s event covering 15 fast and demanding all-asphalt stages over 204.25 kilometres from 25-27 August.
*A record 37 R5 cars are entered with 28 drivers in top-of-the-range machinery holding ERC priority status from a total of 49 ERC priority drivers.
*Of those 28, seven will chase success in the new-for-2017 ERC Junior Under 28 Championship.
*Across the various rallies, there are 151 entries from 23 countries.
*Barum Czech Rally Zlín takes on added significance for Dominik Brož, Jan Černý and Filip Mareš who make up their home nation’s motorsport federation’s ACCR Czech Team.
*There have been five different winners from the opening five events of the 2017 ERC season meaning a wide-open battle for victory is expected in Czech Republic.
*As well as counting for ERC1, ERC2, ERC3, ERC Junior Under 28, ERC Junior Under 27 and ERC Ladies’ Trophy points, Barum Czech Rally Zlín is a scoring round of the FIA European Rally Championship for Teams, which has been streamlined for this season with one title only up for grabs to increase competition. Castrol Ford Team Turkey heads the Opel Rallye Junior Team after five events.
*Double European champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz is the new leader of the headlining ERC1 division following his home podium in Poland earlier this month, a result that puts him 13 points ahead of previous pacesetter Bruno Magalhães from Portugal. If the LOTOS Rally Team driver can maintain his advantage, then he’ll become the first driver in ERC history to win the title three years in succession.
*Tibor Érdi Jr was set for a second ERC2 victory in Poland only for engine failure at the finish of the final stage to hand Zelindo Melegari the laurels – and a 53-point advantage – in dramatic fashion.
*Buǧra Banaz maintains the title initiative in ERC3 following a troubled Rally Rzeszow for Briton Chris Ingram, who trails his Turkish rival by 10 points.
*A second ERC Junior Under 28 triumph for Marijan Griebel in Poland extends the German’s advantage to 41 points. However, with three scoring rounds remaining, the champion’s prize drive in a World Rally Car on a European round of the world championship in 2018 remains wide open.
*Flying Finn Jari Huttunen closed up to Chris Ingram in ERC Junior U27 with his first class win.
*Emma Falcón, Tamara Molinaro and Catie Munnings will continue their battle for ERC Ladies’ Trophy glory in Czech Repulbic when they will be joined by former ERC regular Ekaterina Stratieva.
*Barum Czech Rally Zlín, which turns 47 in 2017, features 15 stages over 204.25 kilometres.
*Following the Qualifying Stage in Žlutava on the morning of Friday 25 August, the ever-popular Zlín superspecial from 21h30 marks the first competitive action proper.
*Leg one continues on Saturday 26 August with eight stages covering 99.62 kilometres. The 6.54-kilometre Březová stage begins after sunset and brings the day’s action to a close.
*After six further stages on Sunday, the event finishes on the Náměstí Míru square in Zlín, the same location as the start selection ceremony and ceremonial start.
*As well as the four-wheeled competition, a bike race is being organised for all-comers from 16h30 on Friday 25 August. More information is available at zlinska-kola.cz.
*Germany’s ERC Junior Under 28 leader Marijan Griebel will start Barum Czech Rally Zlín on the back of an outing on his home round of the world championship where one of his rivals for WRC2 class success was 2013 European champion and five-time Zlín winner Jan Kopecký.
*In addition to Kopecký, a host of other leading Czech drivers will chase ERC points on their home event. They include Jan Černý, Tomáš Kostka, Roman Kresta, Václav Pech, Pavel Valoušek and ERC stalwart Antonín Tlusťák.
*Alexey Lukyanuk, still fighting back to full fitness following a testing crash in his native Russia in May, returns to frontline ERC action after his huge Rally Rzeszow crash. He was second in Zlín last season until an accident on the final stage put him out.
*Kajetan Kajetanowicz makes his fourth Zlín start. The ERC champion’s best result in Czech Republic remains the third place he scored in 2015.
*Russian rising star Nikolay Gryazin’s second appearance in Zlín comes off the back of a rally-ending crash in Poland but not before the teenager had demonstrated plenty of pace and potential.
*Polish title winners past and present Łukasz Habaj and Grzegorz Grzyb will be competing in Zlín when they take on compatriot Jarek Szeja, who hails from Kajetan Kajetanowicz’s hometown of Ustron and campaigns his Orsák Rally Sport Ford Fiesta R5 in the Czech championship.
*Slovakian hopeful Martin Koči has notched up six podiums from eight starts in 2017 and makes his first ERC start of the season.
*Dávid Botka gets his third start in his recently-acquired ŠKODA Fabia R5 run under the Botka-Tlusťák Racing banner, the car of choice for former GT racer Albert von Thurn und Taxis.
*Bryan Bouffier’s Rally Rzeszow victory has fired the Frenchman back into title contention, while José Suárez’s ERC Junior Under 28 podium has boosted the Peugeot Rally Academy member’s prospects.
*With Kristóf Klausz’s regular co-driver Botond Csányi still out of action following his Rzeszow crash, the Hungarian has been forced to pull his entry.
*Austrian Julian Wagner, younger brother of new ERC Junior Under 27 recruit Simon Wagner, is making his category debut in Czech Republic.
*Tamara Molinaro has recuited Norwegian Veronica Engan to co-drive in place of Ursula Mayrhofer.
*Martin Špaňhel, an ex-world hockey champion, will compete in a Honda Civic VTi, TV presenter Tomáš Hauptvogel will drive an Opel Adam while former Le Mans 24 Hours winner Romain Dumas will be at the wheel of a Porsche 997 GT3 in the FIA’s RGT category.
1: Barum Czech Rally Zlín first ran as an amateur event in 1971 with local driver Jan Halmazňa winning a ŠKODA 1100 MB. It joined the ERC in 1984 and has been part of the championship ever since.
2: With five outright wins to his name, Jan Kopecký is the event’s most successful driver.
3: Event sponsor Continental Barum’s giant tyre factory and distribution centre in nearby Otrokovice hosts the rally’s permanent service park.
4: Zlín’s transformation from small town to big city can be credited to Tomáš Bat’a, who founded a shoe factory there in 1894. Indeed, Bat’a’s old office – located in a moving elevator – is preserved in the Regional Authority Building 21.
5: Zlín was renamed Gottwaldov from 1949-1990 after the first communist president of Czechoslovakia, Klement Gottwald.
THE RALLY IN 100 WORDS
Ever-present in the ERC since the championship’s streamlining in 2004, Barum Czech Rally Zlín is based in the South Moravian university city, 300 kilometres south of the Czech capital Prague. It is a Tarmac test like no other due to the bumpy and sometimes broken nature of the road surface. To add to the challenge, several stages feature high-speed blasts through forests and intermittent showers are always possible. While the weather might be hard to predict, huge numbers of fans follow the action, especially on the opening night-time Zlín superspecial stage. The rally has a long-term ERC contract in place.
WHAT HAPPENED IN 2016?
Jan Kopecký won his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship, Barum Czech Rally Zlín, for the fifth time after a flat-out duel with Alexey Lukyanuk all the way until a dramatic final stage. The 2013 European champion Kopecký led after all but one of the 15 stages on the asphalt classic in his factory ŠKODA Fabia R5, but never had a margin of more than nine seconds over rapid Russian Lukyanuk, driving the event for just the second time in his Ford Fiesta R5. Lukyanuk briefly took the lead on Saturday evening and on Sunday he won both runs over the Pindula test to twice slash his deficit to Kopecký. On the second occasion this set up a final-stage decider between the pair, now separated by just 4.6 seconds. However, Lukyanuk’s hopes ended when he tagged a water barrel on the inside of the corner, breaking a steering arm and losing over 10 minutes. Defending champion and points leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz was forced to retire from the opening leg with engine problems, but restarted on Sunday. French asphalt ace Bryan Bouffier began the final morning in third, but a slow couple of stages dropped him behind Tomáš Kostka, only for Kostka to suffer a broken differential on the day’s third stage, robbing him of front-wheel drive and around 40 seconds. Bouffier took a two-second margin over Jaromír Tarabus into mid-day service but was unable to go any further, with his Gemini Clinic Rally Team Citroën DS3 R5 dropping to three cylinders. Local resident Tarabus then lost his hopes of a dream home podium when he crashed on the next stage. This promoted Jan Cerný to third, but when he got held up behind another car on the penultimate stage, it looked as if his podium chances had gone too, with Kostka moving ahead. However, Lukyanuk’s misfortune allowed both to celebrate top three finishes. Czech drivers filled the top five places in the end, with Pavel Valoušek recovering from a time-consuming puncture on Saturday to take fourth. ERC debutant Fabian Kreim lost out to Valoušek when he suffered a puncture of his own on the penultimate stage, but the German still completed a sweep of the top five for ŠKODA, which was supporting the 23-year-old’s participation in its home event. Chris Ingram took a well-timed first win of the ERC Junior season to strengthen his position at the top of the standings, while Giacomo Scattolon secured his second ERC2 win of the campaign.
EVENT ESSENTIALS (all timings local and subject to change)
Starts: 16h00, Friday 25 August, Námĕstí Míru/City Square (Zlín)
Finishes: 16h25, Sunday 27 August, Námĕstí Míru/City Square (Zlín)
Headquarters: AK Barum, Hornoomlýnská 3715, 76001 Zlín
Service park: Continental Barum factory, Otrokovice
ERC appearances (since 2004 restructuring): 13 (2012-16)
Stage distance: 204.25 kilometres (109.13kms leg one, 95.12kms leg two)
Liaison: 483.32 kilometres
Total: 687.57 kilometres
Itinerary and entry list
MEDIA INFORMATION (all timings local and subject to change)
Media Accreditation Centre location: Tomáš Bat’a University Centre, nám. T.G.M. 5555, 76001, Zlín
Opening times: 08h00-23h00, 24 August; 07h00-24h00, 25 August; 08h00-23h00, 26 August; 08h00-20h00, 27 August
Media Centre location: Tomáš Bat’a University Centre Zlín
Opening times: 08h00-23h00, 24 August; 07h00-24h00, 25 August; 08h00-23h00, 26 August; 08h00-20h00, 27 August
Satellite Press Centre location: Foyer AB Continental Barum, Otrokovice
Satellite Press Centre opening times: 06h30-20h00, 25 August; 07h00-24h00, 26 August; 08h00-18h00, 27 August
Television coverage: Daily highlights, rally review and Inside ERC magazine show on Eurosport and Eurosport Player, plus additional coverage on other networks
ERC Radio: Live throughout the event at FIAERC.com or through the ERC app
Results, standings, live timing and text commentary
Rights-free images: Register here
ERC press officer: Richard Rodgers, firstname.lastname@example.org, +447503871575
Event press officer: Roman Ordelt, email@example.com, +420722623848
MEDIA EVENTS (all timings local and subject to change)
THURSDAY 24 AUGUST
Pre-event safety briefing (all photographers, TV crews must attend to obtain photo tabards): 19h00, Media Centre, Zlín
FRIDAY 25 AUGUST
Free Practice (for priority drivers): 07h30-09h10, Morava (4.55 kilometres)
Qualifying Stage (for priority drivers): 09h15, Morava (4.55 kilometres)
Shakedown (for non-priority drivers): 10h15-13h00, Morava (4.55 kilometres)
Pre-rally press conference: 14h30, Regional Authority Building 21, třída T. Bati 21, 76190 Zlín
Start order selection: 15h30, Námĕstí Míru/City Square (Zlín)
FIA Action for Road Safety photograph: 15h45, Námĕstí Míru/City Square (Zlín)
Ceremonial start: From 16h00, Námĕstí Míru/City Square (Zlín)
SUNDAY 27 AUGUST
Finish podium: 16h25, Námĕstí Míru/City Square (Zlín)
Post-rally press conference: 17h15, Zlaté Jablko Shopping Centre, Námĕstí Míru/City Square (Zlín)
2016: Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (ŠKODA Fabia R5)
2015: Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (ŠKODA Fabia R5)
2014: Václav Pech Jr/Petr Uhel (MINI John Cooper Works S2000)
2013: Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)
2012: Juho Hänninen/Mikko Markkula (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)
KEY ERC STATISTICS
ERC rally wins in 2017: Al-Attiyah, Bouffier, Kajetanowicz, Lukyanuk and Magalhães 1
ERC stage wins in 2017: Kajetanowicz and Lukyanuk 17; Al-Attiyah 9; Bouffier 7; Gryazin 5; Magalhães 4; Griebel, Moura, Østberg, Polykarpou and Suárez 1