Preview: Barum Czech Rally Zlín – Can Kopecký Win Again On Home Soil?

by Steven Batey

Round six of the 2018 FIA European Rally Championship is the Czech Rally Zlín where Jan Kopecký looks to be the man to beat as he bids for his eighth win on the event.

Over 200km and 15 stages on the Czech tarmac lie ahead for the ERC competitors with several drivers all in with a chance of defeating home hero Kopecký, who has won this event a record seven times. The experienced Czech enters with Skoda Motorsport in a Fabia R5 this weekend.

None more so is Hyundai WRC driver Dani Sordo who is entered by the Korean manufactuter this weekend in a factory supported i20 R5 in a bid to promote its car to potential customers. Known for his expertise on asphalt, ERC debutant Sordo is a serious contender for the win this weekend.

Leading the championship coming into round six of the 2018 ERC is Alexey Lukyanuk who looks set for another close battle with his title rival Bruno Magalhães as the Russian looks to extend his nine-point lead after taking the win last time out in Italy.

Photo Credit: Jorge Cunha / DPPI

The ERC1 class sees several other frontrunning drivers all again competing this weekend, with Norbert Herczig, Łukasz Habaj and Orhan Avcioglu all already proving so this season that they can produce a strong result.

ERC Junior Under 28 sees a pair of young Czech drivers hoping to claim the victory on home soil. Jan Černý; already has a win under his belt in the class so far this season while Filip Mareš has shown solid pace as continues his progression from the ERC Junior Under 27 category where he competed last season.

Under 28 championship leader, German Fabian Kreim, enters after competing in WRC2 last weekend on his home event, Rally Deutschland where he finished a fine fourth in class. The youngster is going for his second win in a row in the 2018 U28 championship.

Photo Credit: Thomas Fenetre / DPPI

2017 U27 champion Chris Ingram will be looking to build on his podium in Italy a he continues to try and rebuild his 2018 season after being forced to retire from the Rally Islas Canarias and miss the Acropolis Rally of Greece due to ill health.

Alongside Mareš and under the guidance of former WRC driver Roman Kresta will be Rhys Yates, who finished third last weekend on the Irish tarmac of the John Mulholland Ulster Rally in the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship. ERC Junior U28 is rounded out by Nikolay Gryazin, Laurent Pellier and Aleksander Zawada in the Czech Republic this weekend.

Mārtiņš Sesks goes into this weekend at the top of the ERC Junior U27 standings and will be aiming for a second successive win this weekend but drivers such as Simon Wagner, who finished on the podium in this class here last season and ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team teammate Tom Kristensson are just two of the drivers looking to stop him from extending his championship lead.

Photo Credit: Jo Lillini

Sindre Furuseth showed in Italy he has the pace to be at the sharp end of the class and was set for a strong result in Italy before being forced to retire with mechanical issues while Efrén Llarena has also shown solid pace in 2018. Tibor Érdi Jr will secure the ERC2 title with a win this weekend, while Emma Falcón will again go up against Catie Munnings for the ERC Ladies Trophy.

The Barum Czech Rally Zlín takes place this weekend between August 24-26.

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