ERC 2019 season recap: Barum Czech Rally Zlin
Filip Mareš and Efrén Llarena gave their hopes of further career progression a huge lift by capturing the FIA ERC1 Junior and FIA ERC3 Junior titles respectively on Barum Czech Rally Zlín.
While Jan Kopecký and ŠKODA Motorsport co-driver Pavel Dresler celebrated a fifth consecutive victory on this tremendously challenging sealed-surface event, Kopecký’s eighth in total, Mareš and Llarena can now look forward to two fantastic prize-drive opportunities.
Mareš, who competes for the Autoclub of Czech Republic-backed ACCR Czech Rally Team, beat Chris Ingram by 0.3s in a final-stage decider and will receive 100,000 euros from ERC promoter Eurosport Events to contest two European championship events with his Kresta Racing team alongside co-driver Jan Hloušek.
Real Federación Española de Automovilismo (RFEDA)-backed Llarena, meanwhile, gets two rounds of the 2020 FIA ERC1 Junior Championship in an R5 car run by Motorsport Italia as his prize.
Significantly, both ERC Junior champions received direct support from their respective ASNs as part of ongoing efforts by Eurosport Events to provide a stepping-stone from national to international level.
“It was a really close battle between me and Chris, so for sure I am now really happy with this result,” said Mareš.“The Czech federation has supported me for many years and it’s thanks to this support that I am here. Thanks also to Kresta Racing for this amazing car.”
Ken Torn had initially celebrated ERC3 Junior title success only for class winner Jean-Baptiste Franceschi’s original notional time for stage 15 to be adjusted after a technical problem struck, dropping the Frenchman to fourth in class and promoting Llarena to first. The one extra day point for Llarena meant he took the title by a single point ahead of Torn.
“We were always on the limit with some big moments like all the drivers,” said Llarena. “We knew we needed to win and we deserved it.”
Although Ingram suffered the huge disappointment of missing out on the ERC1 Junior crown to Mareš by 0.3s, the Toksport WRT driver moved to the top of the overall FIA European Rally Championship standings, one point ahead of reigning champion Alexey Lukyanuk, whose bid for maximum leg two bonus points following his Sunday restart were wrecked by a puncture on the final stage.
As well as his ERC1 Junior title success, Mareš celebrated his best ERC finish to date by following Kopecký home in second with Ingram taking third ahead of Czech Tomáš Kostka, double ERC Junior champion Marijan Griebel from Germany and Austrian ERC1 Junior newcomer Simon Wagner, who secured third place in the category for young stars in R5 cars.
Sicilian Andrea Nucita grabbed an ERC2/Abarth Rally Cup double with Pole Dariusz Poloński restarting to finish second in the Abarth Rally Cup and third in ERC2 behind Argentine Juan Carlos Alonso.
Łukasz Habaj had been due to start first on the road on day two in P10 overall but he was prevented from doing so when it was discovered his Fabia R5’s roll cage had been damaged during an off on Saturday.
BARUM CZECH RALLY ZLÍN, 16-18 AUGUST 2019
TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 15 stages, 219.63 kilometres)
1 Jan Kopecký (CZE)/Pavel Dresler (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia R5 Evo 2h05m17.4s
2 Filip Mareš (CZE)/Jan Hloušek (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +1m31.5s
3 Chris Ingram (GBR)/Ross Whittock (GBR) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +1m31.8s
4 Tomáš Kostka (CZE)/Ladislav Kučera (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia R5 Evo +1m51.1
5 Marijan Griebel (DEU)/Pirmin Winklhofer (DEU) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +2m49.7s
6 Simon Wagner (AUT)/Gerald Winter (AUT) ŠKODA Fabia R5 Evo +3m07.9s
7 Jaromír Tarabus (CZE)/Daniel Trunkát (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +3m15.4s
8 Tomáš Pospíšilík (CZE)/Jiří Hovorka (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +5m38.5s
9 Martin Březík (CZE)/Marek Omelka (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +6m51.9s
10 Efrén Llarena (ESP)/Sara Fernández (ESP) Peugeot 208 R2 +10m36.6s
FIA ERC2: Andrea Nucita (ITA)/Bernardo Di Caro (ITA) Abarth 124 rally
FIA ERC3: Efrén Llarena (ESP)/Sara Fernández (ESP) Peugeot 208 R2
FIA ERC1 Junior: Filip Mareš (CZE)/Jan Hloušek (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia R5
FIA ERC3 Junior: Efrén Llarena (ESP)/Sara Fernández (ESP) Peugeot 208 R2
Abarth Rally Cup: Andrea Nucita (ITA)/Bernardo Di Caro (ITA) Abarth 124 rally
ERC Ladies’ Trophy: Nabila Tejpar (GBR) Peugeot 208 R2