ERC1 Juniors turn up the heat in sunny Zlin
The FIA European Rally Championship’s young stars in R5 cars are turning up the heat on a sunny Barum Czech Rally Zlín, with Nikolay Gryazin taking the lead and the ERC1 Junior title potentially changing hands.
Gryazin (Sports Racing Technologies) is competing in the Czech Republic thanks to using the second of his two prize drives awarded by ERC promoter Eurosport Events for winning the ERC1 Junior title last year.
A sublime run on the Semetín test by Gryazin gave him fastest time, 3.9s up on reigning ERC champion Alexey Lukynauk (Saintéloc Junior Team) and 8.1s over seven-time Barum Czech Rally Zlín winner Jan Kopecký (ŠKODA Motorsport), promoting him to the lead.
Lukyanuk had taken second from Gryazin on Březová and kept the place despite falling behind his compatriot, as Kopecký fell to third.
Behind Václav Pech (EuroOil – Invelt Team) in fourth place, a thrilling battle for the ERC1 Junior title experienced a potentially crucial early position change.
Filip Mareš (ACCR Czech Rally Team) is on a quest to close down a 30 point gap to ERC1 Junior points leader Chris Ingram (Toksport WRT), and by taking fifth place from Ingram on Semetín, also moved into second in class.
Depending on leg points scored this weekend, finishing in second place and ahead of Ingram is potentially enough for Mareš to win the title, though their positions being reversed would immediately put Ingram in pole position for the title.
Tomáš Kostka (Kresta Racing), Norbert Herczig (MOL Racing Team), Jan Černý (Mogul Auto Šidlo ŠKODA Team) and Marijan Griebel (BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team) complete the top 10 overall.
Paulo Nobre (Palmeirinha Rally) was caught out by the tricky Semetín test, going off into a ditch with a broken right-rear wheel and retiring.
ERC2 championship leader Zelindo Melegari (Loran SRL) is also in trouble, nursing a driveshaft issue aboard his Abarth 124 Rally machine after dropping behind Juan Carlos Alonso to fourth place on Březová.
Efrén Llarena (Rallye Team Spain) continues to lead in ERC3. Erik Cais (ACCR Czech Rally Team) moved up into the final podium place at the expense of Adam Březík, who was off the pace on Semetín and fell to seventh in ERC3.
The action resumes with the first running of Halenkovice at 13h12 local time.