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.
Text and photo: www.fiaerc.com