Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ) put in a superb performance to secure ŠKODA’s fifth success in a row at the home event Barum Czech Rally Zlín. After a flawless drive, the duo extended their lead in the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) standings.
Making their first appearance as ŠKODA works team drivers, the German pairing of Sepp Wiegand/Frank Christian (D/D) took an impressive fourth place. The third ŠKODA duo of Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN) was forced to retire following an accident on Saturday.
“That was an impressive performance from the ŠKODA works team in front of so many excited supporters. Special congratulations must go to Jan Kopecký, who is now a three-time winner here at Barum,” said Dr Frank Welsch, the head of Technical Development at ŠKODA. He was able to experience the effort the entire works team had put in first hand.
Jan Kopecký also highlighted excellent teamwork as being the key to his success: “First of all, I’d like to thank the whole team – they did everything perfectly. I’m so happy. That is a big victory for ŠKODA and for us. The car was simply in perfect order.” The experienced Czech racing ace won nine of the fifteen stages, cruising home to his third victory at the Barum Rally after successes in 2009 and 2011. “On Sunday, I drove with safety in mind; I didn’t want to make the same mistakes from 2010, when I threw away victory.”
The 31-year-old’s successful campaign in the Fabia Super 2000 is showing no signs of stopping, having now picked up five race victories and a second-place finish from six starts in the ERC. The ŠKODA drivers have also increased their lead at the top of the ERC’s overall standings. Their triumph at the Barum Rally, which saw them enjoy a 1:01.6-minute advantage over Václav Pech (CZ) in the end, also counts towards the Czech Championship. Here, Kopecký enjoys a perfect race record with four victories from four starts.
German hopes were pinned on Sepp Wiegand, who could also be happy with his performance – he finished as the fastest non-Czech driver in his first appearance as a ŠKODA works team driver. “It was so much fun, but I also had difficulties adapting to the Czech asphalt runs. As a result, the most important thing was to get the car to the finish in one piece,” said Wiegand.
The next ERC rally event will be taking place from 13 to 15 September in Poland, where Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler will continue their assault for the title.