ERC1 Junior title rivals only 1.3s apart with three stages left
FIA ERC1 Junior Championship title rivals Chris Ingram and Filip Mareš are only 1.3 seconds apart with just three stages remaining on Barum Czech Rally Zlín, with a 100,000 euro prize on the line for the winner.
Jan Kopecký (ŠKODA Motorsport), who won the FIA European Rally Championship in 2013, is on course to score a fifth consecutive Barum Czech Rally Zlín win out front, but attention was focused on the enthralling battle between Ingram (Toksport WRT) and Filip Mareš (ACCR Czech Rally Team).
Mareš was faster than Ingram on both the Maják and Kašava, in the latter case aided by Ingram having a small spin on a gravel section, bringing the gap between the pair down to only 1.3s with 51.67 kilometres of action remaining to decide the new champion.
Ingram and Mareš are second and third overall and now have Tomáš Kostka (Kresta Racing) is their closest challenger in fourth, 17.4s behind the podium places.
Kostka’s progress was aided by eight-time ERC event winner Václav Pech (EuroOil – Invelt Team) being forced to stop with mechanical trouble, and also has 26.6s in hand over fifth-placed Marijan Griebel.
Behind the 2017 ERC1 Junior champion was a class debutant, Simon Wagner (Rallytechnology), who was beginning to feel better after coming down with illness on Saturday.
Feeling more able to push, Wagner took third place in ERC1 Junior back when Nikolay Gryazin slid wide and hit a bridge, destroying the left-rear corner of the Sports Racing Technologies pilot’s machine.
Wagner also moved into sixth overall, though has multiple ERC podium-finisher Jaromír Tarabus (Agrorodeo) only 7.6s behind him.
Vojtěch Štajf (ACCR Czech Rally Team) moved up to eighth at the expense of Martin Březík (Samohýl ŠKODA Team), who lost over three minutes with a puncture on Kašava.
Tomáš Pospíšilík (BTH Import Stal Rally Team) cemented his fourth place in ERC1 Junior with ninth place overall, with Martin Vlček (Hyundai Kowax Racing) completing the top 10, with Łukasz Habaj (Sports Racing Technologies) retiring from the final points place before the day had begun with rollcage damage.
Miroslav Jakeš (Samohýl ŠKODA Team) had shown strong pace with the third fastest time on Maják but went no further, retiring from P15 with a broken wheel. Hiroki Arai (Team STARD) and Albert von Thurn und Taxis (Baumschlager Rallye & Racing) also retired on the Sunday morning loop with handling and battery issues respectively.