KOPECKY WINS AMID LATE DRAMA
Czech upheld home honour as Lukyanuk suffered last-stage heartbreak
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.