‘Kopecky had a straight­for­ward event’

Motor Sport News - - Rally Monte Carlo -

Straight­for­ward. That’s not a word one would ever as­so­ci­ate with the Monte Carlo Rally. But from mid­day Fri­day for­wards, that was the only way to de­scribe Jan Kopecky’s vic­tory on the open­ing WRC2 round of the sea­son.

The Fabia R5 driver ended the event al­most a quar­ter-of-an­hour ahead of his near­est ti­tle ri­val, Guil­laume de Me­vius in a Peu­geot 208 T16.

It hadn’t al­ways been that way. M-sport Ford Fi­esta R5 driv­ers Eric Camilli and Teemu Suni­nen of­fered some stout op­po­si­tion through Thurs­day night’s open­ing stages be­fore they both de­parted too early on Fri­day.

Suni­nen was the first go, slid­ing off the road and into a river on SS4. Camilli, who led early on, dropped it two stages later.

The Finn ad­mit­ted he’d been faced with some­thing of a dif­fi­cult choice when he found him­self ar­riv­ing at a cor­ner too quickly.

“I had to choose be­tween hit­ting the bridge and go­ing to the river,” he said. “I went down the bank.”

The car was fixed and he re­turned, some­what chas­tened, for the re­main­der of the event where he took a more con­ser­va­tive ap­proach and picked up points for fourth.

Camilli, who re­turned but then re­tired with me­chan­i­cal trou­ble on SS11, of­fered: “We had the set-up a bit too soft this [Fri­day] morn­ing and wanted to come back and re­claim the lead. But we slid wide on a left-hand cor­ner and touched the bank with the rear. It wasn’t a hard im­pact, but it was enough to make us stop. We are re­ally dis­ap­pointed be­cause the pace was good and we had a good chance of bat­tling for the win.”

The up­shot of that was some­thing of a huge open goal for Kopecky, who had been inch-per­fect to keep his fac­tory Skoda at the sharp end and in the per­fect po­si­tion to take full ad­van­tage of M-sport’s dis­as­ter.

On hear­ing of his ri­vals’ demise, the Czech star said: “It was dis­ap­point­ing to see the other guys hit prob­lems. It was a good bat­tle with Eric, but I’ve been in this sport a long time and some­times this is ral­ly­ing. Since I saw Eric in trou­ble I’ve been tak­ing it easy.”

Kevin Ab­bring had been ex­pected to fea­ture, but he dropped out with en­gine prob­lems aboard his Fi­esta R5, leav­ing WRC2 debu­tant Ed­die Sciessere (Citroen DS 3 R5) to clinch third, which be­came sec­ond af­ter de Me­vius was dropped to last in the ste­wards’ room on the dis­cov­ery of an un­der­weight bat­tery.

Kalle Ro­van­pera was com­pet­ing on the event in a private Skoda, but wasn’t reg­is­tered for WRC2 points. He would have fin­ished sec­ond (and did fin­ish sec­ond in the RC2 class) to Kopecky.

The 17-year-old, who was four min­utes down on Kopecky, sur­vived a cou­ple of mo­ments to bag plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence from his Monte de­but.

Kopecky had an easy run when main ri­vals slipped up on Fri­day

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.