A thrilling event-long battle between Jan Kopecky and Alexey Lukyanuk came to a dramatic conclusion on the final stage of the 2016 Barum Czech Rally Zlin, round eight of the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship. Local driver Kopecky claimed the win as his Russian rival damaged his steering on the final test losing ten minutes and any chance of a good result.
Just like the previous leg of the event the pair were never far apart on the stage times. 8.4 seconds was the farthest Kopecky managed to pull clear of Lukyanuk all day but the Russian always managed to claw back time. After the first loop of three stages the pair were separated by just 5.4 seconds. Lukyanuk managed to close to within 4.6 seconds of his rival before his drama.
“The emotions are really high now,” Kopecky said. “Crazy feeling, I don’t know what to say. Thanks to the car, to the team and to my family.”
Bryan Bouffier’s chances of securing third place ended with engine problems at the service stop, that meant Jaromír Tarabus was set to inherit third having only been two seconds behind the Frenchman, but the Zlín local crashed out on the repeat of the Kašava stage. Tomáš Kostka and Jan Cerný took second and third respectively making it an all Czech podium. Pavel Valoušek claimed fourth ahead of Fabian Kreim, Martin Vlček, Cédric Cherain, Vojtech Stajf, Miroslav Jakeš and Roman Odložilík.
In ERC2 Giacomo Scattolon continued his dominant performance winning the event by over 13 minutes, while in the ERC Junior rally it was Britain’s Chris Ingram who took his first win of the season. The Briton maintained his lead throughout the day and came home 23.3 seconds ahead of Lukasz Pieniazek with Nickolay Gryazin in third four minutes off the lead.
The ERC moves to Latvia for the Rally Liepāja in the middle of September. The event, which was meant to open the season but was postponed due to adverse weather conditions, was won last year by Craig Breen.