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Sat 19 Aug 2023

Super Schulz tops Zlín Junior ERC battle

Timo Schulz has produced the drive of his short FIA Junior ERC Championship career by completing leg one of Barum Czech Rally Zlín firmly in front.

After taking top spot from overnight leader Max McRae on SS2, the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team driver was able to pull clear as a powersteering issue slowed his unfortunate rival and fellow Hankook-equipped Opel Corsa Rally4 driver.


Schulz went fastest on all three stages this morning to reach the midday service halt in Otrokovice leading by 29.7 sec before he pulled further clear during the afternoon to head into the overnight halt 42.9 sec ahead after going quickest on the two stages that ran.


“I’m really happy with our day, we had a really, really good day with no mistakes and we did our pace,” said the 24-year-old German driver. “We had a bit of soft brakes in the long stage [this morning] but I think everyone had this. This afternoon everything was fine and we have a good gap before Max for tomorrow. The gap is now quite good, that was our plan for today to get a good gap for the tricky stages tomorrow, but we will see what happens then.”


With The Racing Factory restoring his Corsa to full working order in service, McRae climbed from fourth to second during the afternoon, while Roberto Daprà boosted his title prospects in third in his Peugeot 208 Rally4, albeit tied on time with Ford Fiesta Rally4 driver Mille Johansson.

“It was tricky and the level was very high,” said Daprà. “There are five or six drivers very close so tomorrow will be a big battle but we have to try to gain as many points as possible. We had problems with the brakes so we will fix the car tonight and hopefully have a better start to tomorrow than we did today. We had the problem all afternoon, especially on the first stage of the second loop, which we managed by braking [way] before the corners.”


Ex-ski racer Fabian Zeiringer was second at the midday service break but slipped to fifth during the afternoon, albeit 1.3 sec behind Daprà and Johansson, who has suffered with brake problems on his Zlín debut.


Norbert Maior, who is battling Daprà for the Hankook-supported Junior ERC title, is sixth having overcome a handbrake issue on SS4 aboard his replacement Peugeot, which was required after he damaged his original car beyond immediate repair in testing on Wednesday.


“The pace was better this afternoon, we didn’t have problems with the car so this was good but on the last stage I catch the Rally3 car in front of us and we lost some seconds although hopefully we will get the time back,” said Maior, who is 16.1 sec behind Zeiringer. “But we are back in a good shape and I have a good confidence for tomorrow on stages I like.”

Mark Škulj is seventh after he was delayed missing a junction on SS2, while Victor Hansen, a double podium finisher in 2023, was at a loss to explain his reduced pace in eighth overall.


Mattia Zanin had a turbo issue to contend with on SS7 having been delayed by a throttle problem throughout the day. Aoife Raftery is 10th and set for more Junior ERC points.


Three repeated stages over a competitive distance of 92.40 kilometres make up the final leg of Barum Czech Rally Zlín on Sunday.