Fri 26 Aug 2022

Kopecký grabs early Barum lead

Jan Kopecký won Friday night’s curtain-raising super special stage to seize an early lead at Barum Czech Rally Zlín.

  • Full coverage from Barum Czech Rally Zlín is available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.

Thousands of fans packed the streets of Zlín as the FIA European Rally Championship’s penultimate round got underway in darkness. 

Countless direction changes, punishing kerbs and even a railway crossing kept the drivers on their toes as they completed three city centre laps in the SSS Zlín speed test. 

In a déjà vu of Friday morning’s Qualifying Stage, Kopecký once again headed fellow Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo driver Simon Wagner - the pair split by just 1.4sec after 9.57km. Filip Mareš was third, another 4.2sec down. 

"You cannot gain so much on this kind of stage, but you can lose a lot,” said Kopecký, a multiple winner of the event. 

“We are trying to find every single second and that’s just a part of the game in the super special stages. We tried to do our best and it's good that we were the fastest through," he added.

Adam Brezík trailed Mareš by just five-tenths of a second ahead of newly-crowned ERC champion Efrén Llarena, who completed an all-Fabia top five despite suffering early drama. A clutch problem meant the Spaniard had to bump-start his way from the stop line, after dropping 9.9sec to leader Kopecký in the stage.

Hometown hero Erik Cais was frustrated to hold sixth overall after the opener. Pop-off valve troubles left his Ford Fiesta Rally2 down on power and cost around 10 seconds. 

“I tried my best but in every other corner the pop-off valve was opening. What can I do? I am really upset,” said a dejected Cais.

Alberto Battistolli ended just one-tenth down on Cais, with Ken Torn holding eighth in his Fiesta. Team MRF Tyres duo Javier Pardo and Simone Campedelli complete the leaderboard. 

Saturday’s opening leg features three challenging speed tests which venture east of the rally base. Each runs twice, with the two loops punctuated by a 30-minute service halt.

The day starts with the semi-circuit Březová (12.73km) which precedes Držková - the longest stage of the rally at 24.32km. Semetín (11.51km) rounds out both loops to bring a frenetic day to a close. 

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM