Tue 15 Aug 2023

Why ERC’s Czech counter will be even harder

The challenge facing FIA European Rally Championship drivers and teams on Barum Czech Rally Zlín from 18 - 20 August will be even more intense this year after organisers made several exciting changes to the route.

Featuring 13 all-asphalt stages over a competitive distance of 200.43 kilometres, only the legendary Slušovice and Semetín tests are unchanged compared to the 51st running of the event in 2022, while the Kateřinice stage returns for the first time since 1994, albeit in a different layout than 29 years ago.

Filip Mareš, one of the ERC’s leading Czech drivers and a favourite for a return to the podium this weekend, can’t wait to try Kateřinice, which is used twice on Saturday’s opening leg. He said: “Kateřinice is a similar character like the other stages with many crests, a Tarmac road in the forests but very narrow in places so it will be a nice stage. It was last used nearly 30 years ago so I would say nobody knows this stage from the past and this will be nice.”

Mareš is also getting set tackle the revamped Troják stage, the rally’s longest at 25.64 kilometres. It consists of a mixture of roads used in 2010, 2016 and 2017 and will provide a tough test. “It can be really tricky but let’s see,” he said. “There are slippery patches of Tarmac if it’s wet, so it depends on the weather."

In other changes, the famous 18.00km Pindula stage, run twice on Sunday, is a combination of roads used in 2016 and 2017, while the middle section was last used in 1994.

The Halenkovice test, which will form the Power Stage when it’s repeated on Sunday afternoon, is similar to the 2019 layout, albeit with different start location and a middle section in a quarry and around the village of Belov. Organisers have also prepared a new finish layout.

Following Free Practice and Qualifying on the 3.14km Maják stage from 08:00 local time on Friday, the 9.57km super special stage in central Zlín is due to get under way at 21:00.

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