ERC Barum Czech Rally Zlín Day Report: Kopecký gives ŠKODA dream ERC victory on home soil

Jan Kopecký has won round seven of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship, Barum Czech Rally Zlín, for the fourth time, after a masterful performance in his ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia R5.

Co-driven by Pavel Dresler, Kopecký’s blistering pace over the 15 fast and bumpy Tarmac stages was the only thing hotter than the weather, which exceeded +30°C today. Having started today’s second and final leg in a 35.4s lead, Kopecký had a scare with a quick spin on this morning’s opening stage, but after that eased off – cruising to a start to finish 27.3s victory. Victory also gives Kopecký another Czech national title.

“The whole weekend has been great,” said Kopecký. “I want to thank the whole ŠKODA Motorsport team, because they have done another great job. The crowd put on a special show for me and I am really happy to win here in front of such a huge amount of fans. I also want to thank Pavel for his cooperation, because he really helped me a lot, and the Fabia R5 has been very strong and reliable. It’s been a perfect event for us.”

Last year’s event winner Václav Pech was pleased with second place, having set two fastest stage times in his Mini John Cooper Works S2000.

Poland’s Kajetan Kajetanowicz has extended his lead in the ERC drivers’ standings after finishing an excellent third in his Pirelli-shod LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5. The first non-Czech driver across the finish line broke the front left wheel rim on SS11 and was lucky to avoid a puncture, and also lost power with a pop-off valve problem on the last two stages. But despite these minor issues, it was otherwise another stunning performance, and his well deserved podium finish was never in doubt.

Alexey Lukyanuk finished an excellent fourth in his Ford Fiesta R5, even setting fastest time on the final two stages – one of which was Troják which, at 23.01kms, was the longest stage of the event – on only his second ever Tarmac rally.

Pavel Valoušek finished fifth in his family-run ŠKODA after an excellent mistake-free event, while former ERC Junior star Jan Černý was an excellent sixth in a similar Fabia S2000.

Craig Breen dug deep and scored valuable ERC points after a difficult event in his Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16.  Three punctures on leg one didn’t help his progress, but the Irishman fought back well and managed to snatch seventh place on the final stage – helped by Hermen Kobus spinning his ŠKODA Fabia R5 on the penultimate test.

Miroslav Jakeš dropped out of the top 10 when he collected a puncture mid-way through SS11, but he pushed hard in the closing stages to regain ninth in his ex-Bouffier Citroën DS3 R5, while Jan Jelínek rounded off the top 10 in his similar ŠKODA. Antonín Tlusťák collected a puncture on SS14 on his Tajmac-ZPS Fabia S2000, which dropped him down to 12th.

Charles Martin’s Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16 stopped after a jump on SS11 and retired from eighth position. Austria’s Hermann Neubauer had to replace the engine in his Ford Fiesta S2000 after a problem in pre-event testing, but his efforts were unrewarded and after a troubled event he retired on SS14.

GPD Orsák Rally Sport team-mates Petter Kristiansen, Sepp Wiegand, Martin Hudec all completed the event. The Norwegian driver finishing 15th in his ŠKODA, despite stomach problems after what he suspects might have been a dodgy leg two lunch, the German 2014 ERC vice-champion came home 19th, after handling problems, which forced him to ease off on the bumps, even down the straights, while the Czech former motocross rider finished 20th on his first Tarmac rally in a Fabia S2000, after picking up a rear puncture on the final stage.

Botka storms to brilliant ERC2 victory
Dávid Botka scored a brilliant ERC2 victory, leading from start to finish in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX to win by 1m02.7s. Co-driven by Peter Szeles, and running on Pirelli tyres for the first time, the rapid Hungarian driver has done his title ambitions no harm at all with maximum points. He also finished 11th overall. The championship was firmly in Vojtěch Štajf’s mind. As soon as the Czech driver decided he didn’t want to risk going off in chasing Botka, the Subaru Czech National Team Impreza WRX STI settled for second and a strong haul of points. Dominykas Butvilas had been destined to complete the top three in his Subaru Poland Rally Team Impreza WRX STI, after losing three minutes with a puncture on SS2.

Bergkvist wins in Zlín, while Sirmacis becomes ERC Junior vice champion
Emil Bergkvist said that he “couldn’t have wished for a better end to the season” after winning the Michelin-supported ERC Junior category on his first appearance on the Barum Czech Rally Zlín. The ERC Junior champion was in a class of his own, and despite two punctures on leg one, the talented young Swede took his ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Adam R2 to an impressive 2m44.8s victory. After all the dramas of leg one, the race for the ERC Junior runner-up spot on leg two was between German driver Marijan Griebel and Latvia’s Ralfs Sirmacis, and whoever finished ahead of the other would be vice-champion. Griebel led by over a minute going into SS11, but less than halfway through the stage the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior driver had to stop to change a puncture on his Adam R2, losing three minutes. A puncture on the final loop saw Sirmacis finish the event with no spare, but the Sport Racing Technologies Peugeot 208 R2 held his nerve to finish second and secure the runner-up spot in the series. A transmission problem cost Aleks Zawada time leaving the stage starts this morning, but the hard-charging Adam R2 driver came home a well-deserved third, ahead of a recovering Griebel. Łukasz Pieniążek survived late overheating problems in his 208 to finish fifth. Both Joachim Wagemans and Kristóf Klausz felt unwell during the event, although the young Belgian and Hungarian drivers battled to the end and gained good experience in their 208, finishing sixth and seventh respectively. Transmission problems were to put Norway’s Steve Røkland out, and after gearbox problems in the morning, differential failure on SS13 finally stopped his 208. Chris Ingram wanted to finish a great 12 months with Peugeot UK on a high, but suffered a very nasty high-speed roll on SS11. Mattias Adielsson was enjoying a good run in his 208, despite the Swede wishing it was -10°C rather and +30°C! He was, somewhat unfortunately, able to have an early cold bath, after crashing out on SS11. Julius Tannert retired his Adam R2 before the final day’s opening stage with transmission problems.

Two fastest ERC3 stage times shows Bisaha pace
Ondřej Bisaha set two ERC3 fastest stage times, beating the ERC Junior field – and the Czech driver looked set to finish 23rd overall, but retired his Citroën DS3 R3T Max on the road section after the final stage. Double Romanian 2WD champion Alex Filip stopped to change a puncture on his Colina Motorsport-run Renault Clio R3 Maxi on SS11, ruining a potentially very good result.

TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 15 stages, 229.21 kilometres)
1. Jan Kopecký (CZE)/Pavel Dresler (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia R5  2h12m17.7s
2. Václav Pech (CZE)/Petr Uhel (CZE) Mini John Cooper Works S2000  +27.3s
3. Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL)/Jarek Baran (POL) Ford Fiesta R5  +39.9s
4. Alexey Lukyanuk (BLR)/Alexey Arnautov (BLR) Ford Fiesta R5  +1m10.8s
5. Pavel Valoušek (CZE)/Veronika Havelková (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia S2000  +2m30.0s
6. Jan Černý (CZE)/ Petr Cernohorsky (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia S2000  +4m07.0s
7. Craig Breen (IRL)/Scott Martin (GBR) Peugeot 208 T16  +4m25.0s
8. Hermen Kobus (NLD)/Erik de Wild (NLD) ŠKODA Fabia R5  +4m31.1s
9. Miroslav Jakeš (CZE)/Jaroslav Novák (CZE) Citroën DS3 R5  +5m46.2s
10. Jan Jelínek (CZE)/Petr Machů (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia S2000  +6m41.0s

FIA ERC2: Dávid Botka (HUN)/Péter Szeles (HUN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
FIA ERC3: Emil Bergkvist (SWE)/Joakim Sjöberg (SWE) Opel Adam R2
FIA ERC Junior: Emil Bergkvist (SWE)/Joakim Sjöberg (SWE) Opel Adam R2
Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy: Emil Bergkvist (SWE)

RALLY LEADERS
SS1:
Václav Pech
SS2-15: Jan Kopecký

STAGE WINNERS
Day one (Friday 28 and Saturday 29 August, 141.85 kilometres):
SS1:
SSS Zlín (9.51kms): Pech/All given same time/All given same time/All given same time
SS2: Slušovice 1 (16.05kms): Kopecký/Botka/Bisaha/Griebel
SS3: Pindula 1 (18.43kms): Kopecký/Botka/Bergkvist/Bergkvist
SS4: Maják 1 (13.72kms): Kopecký/Botka/Griebel/Griebel
SS5: Kudlovice 1 (17.97kms): Kopecký/Botka/Bergkvist/Bergkvist
SS6: Slušovice 2 (16.05kms): Kopecký/Botka/Bergkvist/Bergkvist
SS7: Pindula 2 (18.43kms): Kopecký/Botka/Bergkvist/Bergkvist
SS8: Maják 2 (13.72kms): Kopecký/Botka/Bergkvist/Bergkvist
SS9: Kudlovice 2 (17.97kms): Kopecký/Botka/Bergkvist/Bergkvist
Day two (Sunday 30 August, 87.36 kilometres):
SS10:
Semetín 1 (11.74kms): Breen/Botka/Bergkvist/Bergkvist
SS11: Troják 1 (23.01kms): Kopecký/Štajf/Bergkvist/Bergkvist
SS12: Žlutava 1 (8.93kms): Kajetanowicz/Štajf/Bisaha/Griebel
SS13: Semetín 2 (11.74kms): Pech/Botka/Griebel/Griebel
SS14: Troják 2 (23.01kms): Lukyanuk/Štajf/Bergkvist/Bergkvist
SS15: Žlutava 2 (8.93kms): Lukyanuk/Botka/Bergkvist/Bergkvist

KEY STATISTICS
ERC wins in 2015:
Breen 3, Kajetanowicz 1, Loix 1, Lukyanuk 1, Kopecký 1.
ERC stage wins in 2015: Kajetanowicz 28, Breen 27, Lukyanuk 19, Kopecký 9, Loix 5, Lefebvre 4, Bouffier 4, Barrable 4, Kangur 3, Abbring 3, Pech 2, J Moffett 1, Kruuda 1, Jeets 1, Moura 1.

CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS
Go to Fiaerc.com for the championship positions following round seven of 10.

WATCH INSIDE ERC ON EUROSPORT – CHECK OUT THE WATCH IT ON TV SECTION OF FIAERC.COM FOR LOCAL BROADCAST DETAILS

WHAT’S NEXT?
Cyprus Rally, 25-27 September 2015:
With mixed-surface stages, the Nicosia-based Cyprus Rally, which is also a round of the FIA Middle East championship, is a tough test for car and crew. High ambient temperatures add to the challenge More information: Cyprusrally.com.cy Media contact: Petros Soutzis, psoutzis@cytanet.com.cy, +357 99643743

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