Jan Kopecký claimed his sixth outright victory on the Barum Czech Rally Zlín in round six of the 2017 FIA European Rally Championship as Marijan Griebel scored his third Junior U28 win of the season to win the class championship, subject to FIA approval.
German driver Griebel claimed his third win of the year in the class ahead of Jan Černý and Nikolay Gryazin as he dominated all weekend, beginning the final day of action with a 11.1 second advantage ahead of Černý, and he wouldn’t make a mistake on his way to winning in the Czech Republic and earn himself a one-off WRC drive on a European round of the 2018 championship.
At the front of the overall field, Kopecký won his home event ahead of Alexey Lukyanuk, with the Russian suffering from not being able to use the brakes as much as he’d have hoped due to injuries caused by his testing accident earlier this season.
Despite the issue, he was able to put on a fine fight with Kopecký at the top of the time sheets and after the Czech driver led overnight on Friday evening, Lukyanuk responded and took the lead on the first stage on Saturday morning.
The pair then continued to trade fastest times on Saturday morning before Lukyanuk spun at the beginning of stage six, giving Kopecký a 6.7 second lead. The Russian’s day was to get worse as he suffered power steering issues for the remainder of Saturday, letting Kopecký on his home event raise the gap to 16.6 seconds by the end of Saturday.
As Lukyanuk’s injured foot became more of an issue on Sunday with him now being forced to brake with his right foot, Kopecký was able to hold the lead throughout Sunday and took a dominating victory.
Third place overall went down to the final stage, with experienced former WRC driver Roman Kresta managing to beat his brother in-law Tomáš Kostka to the final step of the podium. Kostka had inherited third from Václav Pech after retiring with a double puncture before Kresta managed to jump ahead of his rival on the last stage of the event.
Fifth overall went the way of Kajetan Kajetanowicz who extends his European championship lead, with U28 champion Griebel sixth, Martin Koči in seventh and Pavel Valoušek taking eighth.
In the ERC Junior Under 27 class, Aleks Zawada did what he said what he needed to do before the beginning of the rally and he took the win and the championship lead in the process.
Zawada took the lead of the championship away from Chris Ingram, as the British driver suffered a broken wishbone on the very first stage of the event and could only manage seventh in the class.
Second went the way of Filip Mareš despite having late clutch issues and in the battle of the Wagner brothers, it was Simon who claimed the last step on the podium, finishing just 2.2 seconds ahead of Julian after being quicker on the very last stage of the rally.
Another driver who is in contention at the sharp end of the Under 27 standings, Jari Huttunen, rolled the Opel Adam R2 on stage four and didn’t restart on Sunday morning.
Finally in the ERC2 class, it was Tibor Érdi Jr who claimed victory with the memory of his Rally Rzeszow heartbreak still in his mind. This time however he could hold on and claim the victory for his second win of the season. Zelindo Melegari took second while Sergey Remennik finished third after restarting on Sunday morning.
Round seven of the 2017 FIA European Rally Championship takes place in Italy with the Rally di Roma Capitale between September 15-17.