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Tue 13 Sep 2022

Cais pays tribute to home crowds

Ford Fiesta Rally2 hotshot Erik Cais has thanked all the spectators who came to support him at Barum Czech Rally Zlín.

It was a case of what could have been for the 23-year-old at last month’s penultimate round. Going into the rally-ending Power Stage, Cais was charging hard in a bid to secure a podium on his home rally. 

But it wasn’t to be. A rear puncture just kilometres from the finish cost a handful of seconds and he was forced to settle for fourth overall. 

It wasn’t the first time Cais left Zlín feeling disappointed. In 2019 he missed a class victory by just 5.4sec and last year he crashed out of the lead in the final stage, handing the spoils to Jan Kopecký.

“It was so close,” he said. “But I have been saying that same thing for the past three years.

“In 2019 in the Rally4 car and in 2021 everybody knows what happened. This year we were so close to second place and we had a puncture, so now I am a bit speechless and a little bit sad.

“For sure, now I have a lot of work in front of me with the onboards and all the data on the stages, but I want to work hard to come back next year faster, better and stronger.”

Born and bred not far from the rally base, Cais earned himself the loudest of cheers when he drove over the finish ramp. He thanked the local fans for their support and promised a comeback in 2023. 

“It was a hard weekend for us, but my team did the best job they could for me,” he explained. “The spectators on the stages - the local people and everybody who supported us - it was such an incredible time and I am so happy we were able to finish the rally, for them at least. 

“I am so glad that, hopefully, people like us and they enjoyed our drive on the stages. All I can say is that I am really looking forward to seeing them all again next year.”