KOPECKY WINS AMID LATE DRAMA

Czech up­held home hon­our as Lukyanuk suf­fered last-stage heart­break

Motor Sport News - - Erc: Barum Rally - Pho­tos: FIA ERC RE­SULTS FIA Euro­pean Rally Cham­pi­onship, round eight of 10, Barum Czech Rally Zlin, Au­gust 26-28

Jan Kopecky scored an­other Barum Rally win af­ter a close bat­tle with Euro­pean Rally Cham­pi­onship con­tender Alexey Lukyanuk, whose bid to snatch vic­tory ended in a fi­nal-stage col­li­sion with a wa­ter bar­rel.

Fac­tory Skoda driver Kopecky won 10 of the 15 stages on home ground, but was made to work hard for it by Lukyanuk, who was fastest on the other five tests in his pri­vate­lyen­tered Ford Fi­esta R5 and never more than nine sec­onds adrift on the leader­board prior to the fi­nal stage, when he lost 10 min­utes fix­ing a bro­ken steer­ing arm and fell to 15th.

The Rus­sian had briefly bro­ken Kopecky’s stran­gle­hold on the rally lead with two con­sec­u­tive fastest times to­wards the end of the first full day, only for the 2013 Euro­pean cham­pion to re­gain the ad­van­tage by half a sec­ond on the last stage of the day.

On the fi­nal day, Lukyanuk won both runs over the Pin­dula stage that formed the mid­dle test of each loop, tak­ing a large chunk out of his deficit to Kopecky on both oc­ca­sions. On the sec­ond in­stance, it left only 4.6 sec­onds be­tween the pair go­ing into the de­cid­ing stage.

How­ever, Lukyanuk then hit trou­ble on a chi­cane in a spec­ta­tor area on the Ma­jak stage, smack­ing the bar­rel mark­ing the in­side of the first right-han­der. It in­stantly broke the steer­ing on the front-right of his Fi­esta, caus­ing a sec­ondary im­pact with a wall on the other side of the road be­fore he pulled up just around the cor­ner to try to rec­tify the dam­age.

“We were do­ing the same pace as the pre­vi­ous stage, I was not [driv­ing] crazy,” he said. “It’s my fault be­cause I was too close to it. It was a great week­end and an ex­cit­ing bat­tle with Jan that I will re­mem­ber for a long time, but this mis­take has cost me.”

Lukyanuk’s down­fall al­lowed Kopecky and co-driver Pavel Dresler to win by two-and-a-half min­utes as he made it back-to-back wins on Barum for the first time, hav­ing pre­vi­ously tri­umphed in four con­sec­u­tive odd-num­bered years be­tween 2009 and 2015. It was also his fifth win out of five in the Czech Repub­lic so far this year. He paid trib­ute to Lukyanuk for push­ing him so hard, say­ing: “Thanks to him, this week­end was amaz­ing. It was a huge bat­tle with him.”

Cham­pi­onship leader Ka­je­tan Ka­je­tanow­icz was forced to drop out of third on the open­ing day with an en­gine is­sue on his Fi­esta, ul­ti­mately end­ing his hopes of seal­ing the ti­tle with two rounds to go. Lukyanuk would have taken a large bite out of the Pole’s ad­van­tage with sec­ond place, but it in­stead re­mains at 76 points with only 78 re­main­ing up for grabs.

In his third ERC start of the year in a Czech-en­tered Citroen, Bryan Bouffier had in­her­ited a podium po­si­tion af­ter Ka­je­tanow­icz’s exit, but suf­fered en­gine prob­lems on the fi­nal day and quickly re­turned to service af­ter head­ing out for the last loop down to three cylin­ders. That could have given Zlin lo­cal Jaromir Tarabus his sec­ond podium of the sea­son, but he crashed his Ro­man Kresta-run Skoda on the fol­low­ing stage.

Jan Cerny was the next man to take up third place in an R5 Skoda he had only got hold of ear­lier in the month. But when he got held up by Fabian Kreim (who had stopped to change a flat tyre) on the penul­ti­mate stage, he was repassed by To­mas Kostka. How­ever, Lukyanuk’s woe al­lowed both to join Kopecky on an all-czech, all-skoda podium. EX-DTM racer Kostka had ac­tu­ally pulled clear of a strug­gling Bouffier on the fi­nal morn­ing be­fore a bro­ken dif­fer­en­tial cost him 40 sec­onds and three places, yet he ended up bet­ter­ing his third place fin­ishes from 2012 and 2014.

An­other lo­cal Skoda driver, Pavel Valousek, took fourth po­si­tion af­ter be­ing de­layed by a punc­ture, while Kreim made it a top-five lock­out for the home mar­que, which is sup­port­ing the 23-year-old Ger­man cham­pi­onship leader with an Asia-pa­cific pro­gramme and

POS DRIVER /CO-DRIVER

1 Jan Kopecky/ Pavel Dresler 2 To­mas Kostka/ Ladislav Kucera 3 Jan Cerny/ Petr Cer­nohorsky 4 Pavel Valousek/veronika Havelkova 5 Fabian Kreim/ Frank Chris­tian 6 Martin Vl­cek/jin­driska Zakova 7 Cedric Cherain/ Filip Cu­ve­lier 8 Vo­jtech Stajf/ Fran­tisek Ra­jnoha 9 Miroslav Jakes/ Marcela Ehlova 10 Ro­man Od­lozi­lik/ Martin Ture­cek

11 David Botka/ Peter Sze­les (Citroen DS 3 R5); 12 An­tonin Tlus­tak/ Ivo Vy­bi­ral (Fabia R5); 13 Vlas­timil Ma­jer­cak/ Michaela Ve­jack­ova (Fi­esta R5); 14 Jaroslaw Szeja/ Marcin Szeja (Subaru Im­preza STI); 15 Alexey Lukyanuk/alexey Amau­tov (Fi­esta R5); 16 To­mas Ruz­icka/jaroslav No­vak (Fabia S2000); 17 Martin Koci/ Lukas Kostka (Citroen DS 3 R3T); 18 Martin Brezik/ Marek Omelka (Mit­subishi Lancer E9); 19 Chris In­gram/ El­liott Ed­mond­son (Opel Adam R2); 20 Gi­a­como Scat­tolon/ Paolo Zanini (Mit­subishi Lancer E4) Class win­ners ERC2: Scat­tolon/ Zanini; ERC3: In­gram/ Ed­mond­son;

se­lected Czech events this sea­son.

Acrop­o­lis and Es­to­nia win­ner Ralfs Sir­ma­cis added a first asphalt event to his Skoda sea­son af­ter a crowdfunding cam­paign, but the young Lat­vian was al­ready down in 17th be­fore he crashed heav­ily on Sun­day morn­ing, end­ing his slim ti­tle hopes.

Ital­ian Gi­a­como Scat­tolon

ERC Ju­nior: In­gram/ Ed­mond­son

dom­i­nated ERC2 to pre­vent run­away points leader Wo­j­ciech Chuchala from com­menc­ing his cel­e­bra­tions at home.

Com­pa­triot and three-time ERC cham­pion Luca Ros­setti re­turned in a fac­tory Toy­ota GT86 CS-R3, tak­ing sec­ond place in ERC3 be­hind Chris In­gram and set­ting four fastest stage times.

Or­gan­iser: Epynt Mo­tor Club Au­gust 28 Epynt Ranges, Powys Cham­pi­onships: MSA Asphalt Cham­pi­onship; BTRDA Mixed Sur­face Rally Chal­lenge; JD Tyres Welsh Tar­ma­cadam Cham­pi­onship; Hir­e­fit King of Epynt; Bob Den­nis Mo­tor­sport Welsh His­toric Cham­pi­onship; AWMMC Heart of Eng­land Rally Cham­pi­onship; ANWCC Stage Rally Cham­pi­onship Stages: 11 Starters: 74

For the sec­ond year run­ning, the bat­tle for Mewla hon­ours was fought be­tween Damian Cole and Stephen Simp­son. In 2016, the re­sult was re­versed with Cole tak­ing the win, leav­ing last years win­ner Simp­son in the run­ner-up spot.

There was an un­wanted last minute change for the or­gan­is­ers as a rave on MOD land was sit­u­ated where a pas­sage con­trol was due to be set up.

The crews faced a de­tour to get to and from service.

This change didn’t phase Cole, who with Paul Morris along­side in his Ford Fi­esta RS WRC set fastest time on the open­ing two tests, be­fore set­tling for sec­ond best be­hind the Subaru Im­preza WRC crewed by Bob Fow­den/paul Wakely on the longer SS3. With the stages re­peated on the sec­ond loop, Cole rat­tled off an­other three quick­est times to open up a 19 sec­ond lead over Fow­den.

Some early aqua­plan­ing slowed Simp­son and Pa­trick Walsh’s Subaru Im­preza WRC, and stalling on stage two didn’t help their charge, leav­ing them in fifth place, be­fore pulling back to third with a quick time on SS6. Fow­den prof­ited from Simp­son’s mis­for­tune, mov­ing into the run­ner up spot de­spite brake is­sues on his Subaru.

Just be­hind Simp­son were David Tinn/ Giles Dykes who were pleased with the set up of their MEM Pro­ton Sa­tria Nero, equalling Cole on stage five. Also en­joy­ing the rain were Mark Jones/ Jonathan Hawkins who held in fifth their BMW, as Rob Tout/dy­lan James – who were sec­ond fastest on the first stage – were sev­enth in their Mit­subishi.

Simp­son/walsh moved into sec­ond place af­ter their first fastest time of the day on the long sev­enth test, a change to slicks work­ing well for them, while Fow­den rued an in­cor­rect tyre choice. Tinn’s car was “fan­tas­tic” as he held on to fourth ahead of Jones, whilst Steve Petch/jack Mor­ton were find­ing their Fi­esta R5+ to be tail happy as they changed set­tings and tyres in an ef­fort to cure the prob­lem.

With stage di­rec­tions re­versed, Cole fit­ted hard slicks for stage eight, which turned out to be the right choice as he set an­other fastest time ahead of Simp­son and Fow­den. Af­ter shar­ing fastest time with Simp­son on SS9, Cole could re­lax over the fi­nal loop to take the win and se­cure the King of Epynt Se­ries ti­tle.

De­spite gear se­lec­tion prob­lems on the penul­ti­mate test, Simp­son held on to sec­ond ahead of Fow­den, who had pre­ferred the wet early stages. Tinn was a happy to fin­ish fourth, as Petch moved up to fifth when an un­well Mark Jones re­tired his BMW and Tout’s Mit­subishi de­parted with gear­box prob­lems.

The dry af­ter­noon con­di­tions suited Huw Reed/an­thony Hack­ett who were first two wheel drive crew in their sixth placed Dar­rian T90 GTR, while Richard Clews/carl Wil­liamson suf­fered with a mist­ing wind­screen and wrong tyre choices but still fin­ished sev­enth in their Subaru. They were fol­lowed by a happy David Davies/rich Jones who en­joyed the dry af­ter­noon stages, and ex­ceeded their ex­pec­ta­tions by fin­ish­ing sec­ond in class and eighth over­all in their BMW Com­pact M3.

Wynne Watkins/ash­ley Trim­ble took 11th place in their Group N-win­ning Subaru, fin­ish­ing just be­hind Phil Turner/andy Moss whose class win­ning Es­cort had to be push started fol­low­ing gear ring fail­ure. In the 1400cc class, William Mains/vince Mosley had a com­fort­able win in their Nova, while William Hill/richard Crozier fended off Tim Seipel/val Thomp­son to win the 1600cc class in their Fi­esta. In the his­toric cat­e­gory Neil Wil­liams/peter James beat gear­box prob­lems to take the win.

Home favourite Kopecky lived up to the tag

Are set for ti­tle fight in Latvia Af­ter vic­tory, In­gram and Griebel

Lukyanuk chal­lenged Kopecky

Cole takes an­other MSA asphalt win Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally this year Simp­son couldn’t re­peat 2015 re­sult

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