Lappi and Tarabus share Erc Zlín Qualifying Stage honours
Esapekka Lappi and Jaromír Tarabus underlined the serious competition ahead in the FIA European Rally Championship by setting identical times on the Qualifying Stage for Barum Czech Rally Zlín.
Finn Lappi, who tops the ERC standings for ŠKODA Motorsport following wins in Latvia and Northern Ireland earlier this season, took 2m50.1s to complete the 4.44-kilometre test from Pohořelice to Komárov.
Then, 18 minutes later, it was the turn of Czech driver Tarabus to tackle the stage and he duly matched Lappi’s time in a similar Fabia Super 2000.
Craig Breen was one-tenth of a second down on the pacesetting Fabias in his Peugeot Rally Academy 208T16 with Czech champion Václav Pech next up in his MINI John Cooper Works S2000. Robert Barrable (Ford Fiesta R5) was fifth quickest with Kevin Abbring sixth fastest in another 208T16. Sepp Wiegand, Kajetan Kajetanowicz, Robert Consani and Tomáš Kostka completed the top 10 with auto24 Rally Estonia winner Ott Tänak tied on time with the ex-circuit racer.
Mark Higgins says learning is the priority ahead of the JRM Subaru WRX STI’s competition debut on Barum Czech Rally Zlín, round eight of the FIA European Rally Championship.
The three-time British champion is returning to the Czech asphalt counter for the first time in 11 years to help showcase the JRM team’s Group N challenger, which is part of an official collaboration with Subaru Tecnica International in Japan.
“I haven't done Barum for 11 years but I remember it being a tough event where the weather and road conditions are always changing,” said Higgins. “We’ll be using the event to learn as much as possible about the car and to get some important competitive mileage.”
Higgins, who will be co-driven by fellow Briton Carl Williamson, added:“I’m excited about taking the new JRM Subaru into competition and it will be interesting to see how it performs during its very first event. The car looks fantastic and we’ve got a very experienced team behind us in JRM.”
JRM states its new car differs from other WRX STIs of the same generation because it is the first in Europe to be built in a sedan configuration. JRM has chosen this specification due to the improved aerodynamics, traction and balance on offer over the alternative hatchback WRX STI.
“Everyone at JRM is excited about the debut of our new Gp N Subaru and it’s great to know that an experienced duo like Mark and Carl will be taking it in to battle for the first time,”said James Rumsey, JRM Executive Director.“The ERC is super competitive and that makes it the perfect series in which to test the car’s performance and reliability.”
SS1: Abbring on top after Erc street-stage thriller
Kevin Abbring leads round eight of the FIA European Rally Championship after he set the pace on the opening stage, SSS Zlín, which was held on a 9.51-kilometre course through the host city’s streets.
Abbring, in a Peugeot 208T16, took 7m10.6s to complete the night-time test in front of thousands of rally-mad fans. Esapekka Lappi, the current ERC title leader, was second fastest, 2.8s slower than Abbring, in a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000. Abbring’s team-mate Craig Breen completed the top three with local hero Tomáš Kostka fourth fastest in a Ford Fiesta R5. Czech champion Václav Pech was fifth with Robert Consani a strong sixth despite reporting a possible transmission problem on his Peugeot 207 S2000.
Elswhere there was disappointment for young Czech driver Miroslav Jakeš, who dropped more than half a minute when his Citroën DS3 R5 suffered a powersteering glitch. He had been expected to challenge for a top placing but his chances took a big hit instead.
Martin Březík was the fastest ERC Production Car Cup runner, Egon Smékal set the pace in ERC 2WD, while Stéphane Lefebvre was the fastest ERC Junior, while Czech driver Martina Daňhelová was the quickest ERC Ladies' Trophy competitor.
SSS Zlín winner Kevin Abbring continued where he left off last night by going fastest on Saturday’s opening Slušovice stage to build his lead on round eight of the FIA European Rally Championship to 9.9 seconds.
Driving a Peugeot 208T16, the Dutchman took 10m04.0s to complete the 16.05-kilometre test, which was held in warm and dry conditions. In the process he outpaced Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate Craig Breen by 6.3s.
“We managed to set up the car quite well,” said Abbring. “I am not happy in every part of the stage and in some occasions we have to improve a bit. But it’s been a really good start.”
Breen, meanwhile, is now 1.0s behind ŠKODA’s ERC title leader Esapekka Lappi in the battle for second place. Lappi, yesterday’s Qualifying Stage winner, was fourth quickest through the stage with three-time Zlín Roman Kresta third fastest on his return to international competition after 12 months away. The Czech is up to fifth overall.
Ex-touring car racer Tomáš Kostka is 1.0s adrift of Breen in the overall classification despite admitting to “hitting something small after the big jump”. He was fifth fastest through the stage and equal on time with Sepp Wiegand.
Czech champion Václav Pech complained of a problem with the downshift on his MINI John Cooper Works S2000. Countryman Miroslav Jakeš was delayed leaving service while his mechanics repaired the powersteering fault that delayed him through SSS Zlín last night.
Roman Kresta might have been absent from top-level competition for 12 months but he’s lost none of his pace behind the wheel of his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.
The three-time Barum Czech Rally Zlín winner was second fastest through the 8.82-kilometre Maják stage, just 0.3s behind overall leader Kevin Abbring. He now moves into fourth place on the FIA European Rally Championship counter, while Abbring’s lead ahead of ERC title pacesetter Esapekka Lappi stands at 10.5s.
While it proved a trouble-free stage for Kresta, Robert Barrable and Ott Tänak both had problems. Barrable reported a broken front driveshaft on his CA1 Sport Ford Fiesta R5 while team-mate Tänak, the winner of last month’s auto24 Rally Estonia, spun close to the start of the stage.
Crews are now heading back to Otrokovice for a regroup and 30-minute service halt.
The battle for victory on round eight of the FIA European Rally Championship has been turned on its head after a dramatic fourth stage of Barum Czech Rally Zlín. Roman Kresta moves from fourth to first after the top three three drivers hit trouble.
European championship leader Espaekka Lappi crashed out, Craig Breen completed the stage with warning lights flashing on his car and significant damage to the right-hand side following contact with a tree, while early rally pacesetter Kevin Abbring has stopped in the stage with a suspected mechanical failure on his Peugeot 208T16.
Jaromír Tarabus, who was running behind Lappi on the 22.82 kilometres of Troják, said: “He made a mistake, five kilometres after the start there was contact. But he is okay.”
Tarabus is up to fifth overall behind fourth-placed Sepp Wiegand, Tomáš Kostka in third and Václav Pech in second. Robert Barrable also reported a “a massive moment in fifth gear” when he dropped two wheels into a ditch.
Václav Pech is the new leader of round eight of the FIA European Rally Championship after Roman Kresta hit trouble on stage five, Semetín.
Kresta, chasing his fourth Barum Czech Rally Zlín victory on his first competitive start in 12 months, moved into the lead of his home round of the ERC when Kevin Abbring, Esapekka Lappi and Craig Breen all suffered problems on stage four.
He started the 11.51 kilometres of Semetín leading by 3.8s but completed the test 7.4s slower than Pech and with his self-run ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 sounding rough and seemingly down on power. Pech’s lead stands at 3.6s with Kresta still showing in second overall but potentially out of the event.
Meanwhile, Jaromír Tarabus, whose Fabia is run by Kresta’s eponymous team, has moved into third with Sepp Wiegand still in fourth. However, Tomáš Kostka has slipped from third to fifth.
Robert Barrable was unable to start the stage due to radiator damage, while CA1 Sport team-mate Ott Tänak has been complaining of power issues in his Ford Fiesta R5.
Competitors from the FIA European Rally Championship have paid tribute to Björn Waldegĺrd, the first world rally champion who passed away yesterday.
Waldegĺrd took the inaugural world drivers’ crown in 1979 having contested selected European championship events earlier in this career, scoring five wins in the process.
The Swede, who was 70, still made occasional competitive appearances and won the East African Safari Classic in 2011 co-driven by his son Mathias (pictured).
“He will always be remembered as the first world champion,” said Craig Breen, part of the Peugeot Rally Academy line-up in the ERC. “He was a massive ambassador for the sport and was still competing on the East African Safari Classic. As a world champion he was an inspiration to anyone who came behind him. He was still a young man so it’s a sad loss for everyone.”
Petter Kristiansen, an ERC Junior contender from Norway, said: “I’ve been watching what he had been doing but when I was young I remember watching the Paris Dakar rallies and he was the commentator on the TV. I remember that very well when I was about 10 or 11. It was always nice to hear him speaking so it’s sad to hear he’s passed away.”
German driver Sepp Wiegand said: “For sure it’s sad news about him that he’s not here any more. He’s an icon from rally sport. I know him from the name and some old videos.”
Mark Higgins, who is chasing ERC Production Car Cup honours on Barum Czech Rally Zlín, said: “He was just a pure gentleman and even at his age a very good driver from when I sat in the Stratos with him a few times. He was quite an amazing character and I’m very sad to hear that he’s gone. There wasn’t a bad bone in his body.”
Jaromír Tarabus has closed the gap to Barum Czech Rally Zlín leader Václav Pech after he won stage six of the FIA European Rally Championship counter, the repeat of Slušovice.
Tarabus, driving a Kresta Racing ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, was 2.8s faster than his MINI John Cooper Works S2000-driving rival through the 16.05-kilometre test and is now 11.8s behind in the overall classification with three stages of leg one remaining.
Sepp Wiegand continues to occupy third position for ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland. If the young German can score nine points or more then he will lead the European championship following team-mate Esapekka Lappi’s crash on stage four.
Meanwhile, Ott Tänak has reported that the power issues affecting his Ford Fiesta R5 could be the result of a sensor issue. Robert Consani, who slipped behind Kajetan Kajetanowicz on the previous stage, is struggling with a possible differential fault on his Peugeot 207 S2000.
Jaromír Tarabus has dropped out of the battle for victory on Barum Czech Rally Zlín after he went off the road on the second running of the Maják stage.
Tarabus was 11.8s behind Czech champion Václav Pech starting the 8.82-kilometre test but hit trouble one kilometre from the start in his Kresta Racing ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000. His moment means Pech’s lead on round eight of the FIA European Rally Championship increases to 25 seconds with two stages of leg one remaining.
“Maybe one kilometre after the start of Maják I was late on the brake point and I missed the brake point after the crest,” Tarabus explained. “Forty metres later there was a sharp left bend and we were out of the road. Thanks a lot to the spectators because they pushed us back on the road but we lost 1m40s or something like this. It’s a pity because it was going very well but this is rally. We must push now, that’s all we can do because Barum Rally is long and we will see what will happen.”
Pech, who drives a MINI John Cooper Works S2000, said: “All is good, everything is good. The car is okay. We go very fast but safe fast. The car set-up is very stiff now and maybe I need more physical power.”
With Tarabus out, Sepp Wiegand is up to second for ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland, albeit by a reduced margin of 4.0s ahead of Tomáš Kostka. Wiegand has driven three stages with four three hard compound Michelin tyres and one soft compound cover on his Fabia S2000 after he damaged the right rear rim hitting a rock on stage four. “It was sometimes a problem when I was braking for the corners and it was a little bit nervous.”
Martin Březík tops the ERC Production Car Cup, Adam Kobliha leads ERC 2WD, Stéphane Lefebvre heads ERC Junior with Ekaterina Stratieva in front in the battle for the ERC Ladies’ Trophy.
SS8: Kostka closes up to second on “extreme” rally
Tomáš Kostka is in striking distance of second place on round eight of the FIA European Rally Championship after he narrowed Sepp Wiegand’s advantage to 1.6 seconds by going 2.4s faster than the German through the rerun of Troják.
Kostka, in a Ford Fiesta R5, took 13m00.9s to complete the 22.82-kilometre stage and close up to the runner-up spot behind runaway leader Václav Pech.
“It’s a shame some of the others are out because it makes it a little bit more easy to be on the front,” said Kostka, an ex-touring car racer who is from Barum Czech Rally Zlín’s host city. “The guys are pushing hard and for sure we are really satisfied to be in this position. Normally the Barum Rally is like this but this year it’s more extreme.”
Jaromír Tarabus was fastest through the stage and is now up to eighth place in his fight to recover from his off-road moment on stage seven. Pech was second fastest, 1.6s down on Tarabus, but leads the asphalt event by 29.5s.
SS9: Pech marks strong day in the Erc with stage win
Václav Pech has completed leg one of Barum Czech Rally Zlín by winning the closing Semetín stage to move 54.1s clear after Sepp Wiegand and Tomáš Kostka both hit trouble on the 11.51-kilometre run.
Driving a MINI John Cooper Works S2000, the defending Czech champion took 6m36.3s to complete the stage as Wiegand was delayed with a front-left puncture and Kostka slowed by powersteering failure. However, both remain in second and third places respectively.
Jaromír Tarabus was second fastest through the stage, 2.6s down on Pech with Ott Tänak next up in his misfiring Ford Fiesta R5. Kajetan Kajetanowicz was fourth quickest with Robert Consani fifth fastest and Roman Odložilík sixth.
Crews are now heading to service in Otrokovice. Sunday’s final leg begins with the 14.87 kilometres of Zádveřice from 08:08hrs local time.
Erc Barum Czech Rally Zlín day one report: Pech leads home counter following day of high drama
Václav Pech leads Barum Czech Rally Zlín following a day of high drama in the FIA European Rally Championship.
The Czech champion, who was second to Robert Kubica on the ERC season-opener in Austria, is 54.1s in front in his MINI John Cooper Works S2000 with Sepp Wiegand second for ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland and ex-touring car racer Tomáš Kostka close behind in a Ford Fiesta R5.
But the real talking point of Saturday’s opening leg occurred on the first run through the 22.82-kilometre Troják test when Kevin Abbring dropped out of the lead after his Peugeot 208T16 suffered a mechanical failure approximately eight kilometres from the start of the fourth stage. The Dutchman had set the pace on the first three stages of the all-asphalt event but lost a possible victory for the fourth time this season when he retired.
Esapekka Lappi also failed to make it through the stage after going off the road approximately five kilometres from the start and damaged his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 in the process. The European championship leader was in second overall at the time.
Craig Breen completed the stage albeit with significant damage to the right-hand side of his Peugeot after he skated off the road and hit a tree. The impact was too great to allow the Irishman to continue and an opportunity to close Lappi’s title advantage was lost.
Jaromír Tarabus is continuing to make up the time lost when he went off the road on Saturday by winning Sunday’s opening test to move into seventh place on round eight of the FIA European Rally Championship.
The Czech took 8m07.2s to complete the 14.87 kilometres of Zádveřice in his Kresta Racing ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 and demotes Jaroslav Orsák for seventh as a result with Robert Consani, his next target, just 1.4s in front in sixth.
Tomáš Kostka was second fastest in his Ford Fiesta R5, which has been fully repaired following a powersteering fault on Saturday’s final stage. The Czech is now 14.4s behind Germany’s Sepp Wiegand in the battle for the runner-up spot. Wiegand admitted to being too cautious through the stage in his ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland entry.
Meanwhile, Václav Pech continues to lead Barum Czech Rally Zlín. The MINI John Cooper Works S2000 driver holds an advantage of 54.0s after going seventh fastest through Zádveřice.
FIA European Rally Championship leader Esapekka Lappi is back on form on Barum Czech Rally Zlín after he went fastest through the 18.43 kilometres of Pindula.
Lappi crashed his works ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 on Saturday’s fourth stage but restarted this morning following repairs in service in Otrokovice yesterday.
The Finn took 10m02.3s to complete the stage, which was coated in mud and other debris, particularly under tree cover.
“Like we saw yesterday these corners really surprise me,” said Lappi. “Everything is working perfectly, no problems at all so big thanks to the team for letting me start today and repairing the car.”
Robert Consani has slipped from sixth to eighth with Jaroslav Orsák moving into sixth and Jaromír Tarabus remaining in seventh. Orsák was second fastest through the stage, 0.6s slower than Lappi.
Václav Pech continues to lead the ERC counter with an advantage of 53.9s over Sepp Wiegand, whose advantage over third-placed Tomáš Kostka has been narrowed to 8.7s.
Meanwhile, in the battle for ERC Junior honours, Stéphane Lefebvre moved ahead of Andrea Crugnola when the Italian briefly went off the road on this morning’s first stage. However, Lefebvre reported a possible gearbox problem on his similar Peugeot 208 R2. Elsewhere, ERC Production Car Cup leader Vitaliy Pushkar is reported to be slowing with an engine issue.
Jaroslav Orsák has scored his first stage win in this year’s FIA European Rally Championship with the fastest time through the 21.41-kilometre Kudlovice test.
Pirelli-supported Orsák, whose team is running a total of five cars on Barum Czech Rally Zlín, outpaced ERC title leader Esapekka Lappi by 2.6s with Jaromír Tarabus 0.2s behind the Finn in a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 one-two-three.
In the battle for second place behind runaway leader Václav Pech, Tomáš Kostka is now 4.9s adrift of Sepp Wiegand, who insists he’s not prepared to become embroiled in a battle with the ex-circuit racer.
“We have to look to the championship and second or third doesn’t matter too much,” said factory ŠKODA driver Wiegand. “I don’t want to be stupid and push too much.”
Crews are now heading to Otrokovice for a regroup and service.
Tomáš Kostka has snatched second place from Sepp Wiegand on Barum Czech Rally Zlín after the local hero outgunned his German rival on stage 13 of the all-asphalt event.
Kostka is now 3.3s ahead of Wiegand following his effort through the 14.87 kilometres of Zádveřice. However, Václav Pech remains out of reach in front: the MINI John Cooper Works S2000 driver’s lead stands at 58.7s with two stages of this action-packed FIA European Rally Championship counter remaining.
“I am trying,” said ex-circuit racer Kostka. “I have four new tyres for this loop and I am pushing but I am sure Sepp will try.”
Wiegand, who can close the gap to European championship leader Esapekka Lappi with a strong haul of points in Zlín, said: “We lost the second place but it's okay for me, [I have to think about the championship]. I am surprised about the speed because I was thinking I had good speed. I have three new tyres for the final loop.”
Lappi, who restarted this morning following his crash on stage four, set the quickest time in his bid to bag maximum leg bonus points for ŠKODA Motorsport. He was 2.8s faster than Jaromír Tarabus with Roman Odložilík third quickest in a Ford Fiesta R5.
Robert Barrable was less fortunate, however, stopping after two kilometres with suspected suspension problems on his Fiesta.
Stage 14 of Barum Czech Rally Zlín, round eight of the FIA European Rally Championship, has been neutralised following an accident involving Roman Odložilík and Martin Tureček.
A medical crew has been sent into the stage to provide assistance and delayed competitors are expected to be handed notional times.
Crews are being rerouted to the final stage of the event, Kudlovice, which goes live at 14:03hrs local time, although a number of drivers are expected to tackle Pindula at competition speed when it restarts shortly.
Stage 14 of Barum Czech Rally Zlín is up and running again after it was halted following an accident involving Roman Odložilík and Martin Tureček.
Odložilík, who was fifth at the time, damaged the rear-right corner of his Ford Fiesta R5 when he went off the road. While he is reported to be unharmed, a medical crew was sent into the stage to carry out precautionary checks on his co-driver, Martin Tureček.
While several drivers were handed notional times, the stage continued with Martin Hudec (pictured) the first driver to tackle the 18.43-kilometre run at competition speed. Jaromír Tarabus will be credited with the stage win, his fourth on round eight of the FIA European Rally Championship.
Václav Pech and co-driver Petr Uhel have won Barum Czech Rally Zlín for the second time to end ŠKODA’s domination of the FIA European Rally Championship qualifier.
ŠKODA has won the event for four seasons on the bounce but Pech’s success in his MINI John Cooper Works S2000 breaks that long-running sequence.
Pech, who became Czech champion for a seventh time by winning Saturday’s leg, claims his first win in the ERC since its restructuring in 2004. He also makes it seven different winners from eight rounds of this year’s ERC.
Sepp Wiegand beat Tomáš Kostka to the runner-up spot by 0.2s in a thrilling finish. Kostka had been in front after 13 stages but an engine problem on his Ford Fiesta R5 for the final two stages slowed him down and allowed Wiegand to get back ahead.
Wiegand was unhappy after being delayed behind Robert Consani’s slowing Peugeot 207 S2000 on stage 14 but his second-place finish means he closes the gap to team-mate Esapekka Lappi in the race to become European champion. Lappi, who crashed out on Saturday, restarted on leg two and won the rally’s final stage, the 21.41 kilometres of Kudlovice.
Jaroslav Orsák just did enough to keep Jaromír Tarabus at bay in the battle for what became fourth place after they both moved ahead of Kajetan Kajetanowicz on the final stage.