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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Next Rnd 9 -Barum Czech Rally Zlín - Aug 31 - Sept 2[/B]

Crowds of up to 200,000 are treated to a rallying spectacular on one of the most difficult events on the IRC calendar due to the proliferation of high-speed blasts through forests and woodland, sections of broken Tarmac and the bumpy nature of some of the roads.

Official Website: barum.rally.cz/

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Kopecky sets Zlin shakedown pace

Jan Kopecký has gained the upper hand on his Intercontinental Rally Challenge rivals by clocking the fastest time in shakedown for Barum Czech Rally Zlín.

Piloting a ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000 alongside co-driver Pavel Dresler, Kopecký set a quickest time of 2m46.0s through the 4.51-kilometre route from Pohořelice to Komárov. Team-mate Juho Hänninen was second fastest with defending IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen equaling the Finn’s best effort.

“It is great to be back here in Zlín and to feel the huge support from the fans we always have here,” said Kopecký, runner-up in the IRC for the past three seasons. “We are very well prepared.”

Patrik Flodin’s Petter Solberg Engineering M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 and Jarkko Nikara’s Tommi Mäkinen Racing Subaru Impreza R4 STI were both hit by powersteering issues, although neither driver lost out on significant running.

Weather conditions were cool and overcast with drops of rain falling towards the end of the session.

Following the ceremonial start in Zlín’s city square at 17:00hrs local time today, the competitive action begins with the opening special stage, SSS Zlín at 21:15hrs.

Top 10 shakedown times (IRC competitors only, information courtesy of Autosport.cz):

1 Jan Kopecký (ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000) 2m46.0s
2 Juho Hänninen (ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000) 2m47.5s
= Andreas Mikkelsen (ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000) 2m47.5s
4 Tomáš Kostka (ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000) 2m49.1s
5 Pavel Valoušek (Peugeot 207 Super 2000) 2m49.8s
6 Roman Kresta (ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000) 2m50.1s
7 Jaromír Tarabus (ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000) 2m50.1s
8 Robert Barrable (ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000) 2m50.4s
9 Jarkko Nikara (Subaru Impreza R4 STI) 2m51.5s
10 Sepp Wiegand (ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000) 2m52.0s

click: ircseries.com/news/818


Friday evening:

After SS1: Kostka holds overnight lead after Zlin win

Tomáš Kostka is the surprise leader of Barum Czech Rally Zlín after the opening stage of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier tonight.

Driving a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, the young Czech driver – a successful circuit racer and a pacesetter in the Czech rallysprint series – was fastest through SSS Zlín, which featured three laps of a course on the streets of the rally’s host city in south-east Czech Republic.

Last year’s winner and national hero Jan Kopecký was second quickest in a factory Fabia, three seconds behind the impressive Kostka, who claims his first stage win in the IRC. Robert Barrable was third for ŠKODA Ireland with Juho Hänninen and Andreas Mikkelsen fifth and seventh respectively. Mikkelsen, who was 14.4s off the pace, reported losing time by selecting dry weather tyres, albeit with cuts, in the mistaken belief the persistent light rain would subside.

Jaroslav Orsák set the pace in the IRC Production Cup with Robert Consani topping the times in the IRC 2WD Cup in his Renault Mégane RS. However, there was early frustration for Pavel Valoušek who failed to complete the run following a reported engine problem on his Peugeot 207 Super 2000.

Although earlier rain had largely subsided, the stage surface remained damp and slippery with temperatures peaking at 17 degrees centigrade. Once again, thousands of spectators watched the stage, which included sections on cobbled roads and a railway crossing.

The first full day of action gets underway at 10:10hrs local time on Saturday with the 15.94-kilometre Slušovice stage. Live coverage of the ‘circuit’ test, back on the schedule for the first time in five years, will be shown on Eurosport and free-to-air Czech TV from 10:00hrs.

After the running order was reversed for tonight’s superspecial, top seed Juho Hänninen will run at the front of field through Saturday’s eight stages.

click: ircseries.com/news/831



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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

After SS2: Inspired Hanninen takes stage win and lead

The battle for victory on Barum Czech Rally Zlín has resumed with the Slušovice ‘circuit’ stage this morning, with Eurosport and free-to-air Czech TV broadcasting all the dramatic action live.

Despite heavy overnight rain, the stage surface was largely dry and several drivers were caught out after they selected tyre compounds that were better suited to wet conditions, which had been anticipated.

Juho Hänninen’s decision to run on a dry-weather Michelin tyre with cuts to provide additional grip paid dividends when the Finn went 6.6s faster than closest rival Andreas Mikkelsen to move to the top of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge leaderboard in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.

“It was more drier than I expected and we have to see how the tyres will be on the next one,” said the 10-time IRC event winner. “I tried to come smoother through the stage.”

Mikkelsen bemoaned his decision to run with an intermediate tyre. The ŠKODA UK ace said: “It was completely the wrong tyre choice but I was happy with my driving because I was neat as I could be.”

Overnight leader Tomáš Kostka was third fastest but slips 7.3s behind Hänninen in the IRC standings in his privateer Fabia. Behind Irish privateer Robert Barrable, Roman Kresta was fifth fastest with Jan Kopecký sixth, 18.3s adrift of ŠKODA Motorsport team-mate Hänninen having selected wet tyres. “It was very difficult but this is the risk. It was raining a lot in the night but now it’s completely dry. We just stay on the road and try to improve it.”

Patrik Flodin was handed a 10s time penalty for leaving service in Otrokovice this morning one minute behind schedule while his Petter Solberg Engineering mechanics raced to replace a broken alternator, which failed on Friday’s opening superspecial stage. He was seventh quickest in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000.

click: ircseries.com/news/838


After SS3: Mikkelsen fastest, Hanninen on top

Andreas Mikkelsen has narrowed Juho Hänninen’s overall lead on Barum Czech Rally Zlín to 13.3s by winning the third stage of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge event, the 18.43-kilometre Pindula test.

Mikkelsen was 1.3s faster than his fellow ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 driver despite fearing his decision to select intermediate tyres for the morning loop of stages would slow him down due to the drying nature of the stage surface.

“The stage was a little more damp in the forest section but the slick was still the way to go,” said Mikkelsen. “I tried to push as much as I can.”

Hänninen, who was running a slick tyre with cuts for additional grip, said: “We had a lot of cuts but I think the others had even more cuts. It was difficult and the tyres were overheating but we are here. Now we have to flip the coin in service and make the tyre choice the other way.”

Jan Kopecký continues to lose time with his choice of rain tyres and was fourth fastest behind ŠKODA privateer Roman Kresta. Although the Czech is now 30.1s behind team-mate Hänninen, he said his priority remained scoring as many points as possible in the Czech championship, which is running in tandem with the main IRC event.

Several drivers reported a coating of mud in the forest section of the stage, with overnight leader Tomáš Kostka dropping to third behind Mikkelsen in the overall standings. Kostka and Swede Patrik Flodin were joint fifth quickest.

Robert Barrable has slipped from third to sixth after admitting to being too cautious in the forest section. “I backed off under the trees because it was very slippery,” he said. “I hit a rock inside on a long left-hander. I didn’t want to take too many chances.”

click: ircseries.com/news/839


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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
After SS4: Mikkelsen makes more progress in Zlin

Andreas Mikkelsen has snatched the lead of Barum Czech Rally Zlín by winning the second run through Slušovice shown live on Eurosport and free-to-air Czech TV.

The Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion was 2.8s quicker than Jan Kopecký through the 15.94-kilometre test to move ahead of Juho Hänninen in the overall standings. Irish privateer Robert Barrable continues to impress by going third fastest despite fearing a front-left puncture following a knock. Behind overnight leader Tomáš Kostka, Estonian teenager Karl Kruuda impressed with the fifth fastest time, 2.2s up on Hänninen.

Crews faced a difficult decision in midday service in Ostrokovice over which tyres to select for the afternoon loop of four stages with the threat of further rain remaining, in addition to reports that the Pindula test has a heavy coating of mud in sections.

“It’s more wet than in the morning,” said ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 driver Hänninen, who selected a soft to medium slick. “There was a lot of mud from the corners and I’m afraid the differences can be quite big.”

Despite going fastest, Mikkelsen, on cut soft slicks at the rear and soft slicks at the front with no cuts, reached the stage finish with a damaged left-rear wheel rim. “I was careful after in case there was a puncture but I was lucky,” said the ŠKODA UK driver. “We have better tyres now but still we have three stages to go so who knows what they will be like.”

Kopecký, who has moved into third overall ahead of Kostka, said: “I really don’t know it’s raining and now we have slick tyres, it’s so specific this rally.”

Patrik Flodin suffered a half spin in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000, which was captured live on Eurosport and free-to-air Czech TV. He lost more time when his car’s engine dropped onto three cylinders. “It was misfiring on three cylinders,” said the Swede. “Sometimes it was on four but most of the time it was three. I don’t know what to do.”

Sepp Wiegand picked up a right-rear puncture four kilometres from the stage finish. The young German was more than 25.6s off the pace.

click: ircseries.com/news/843


After SS5: Czech star Kopecky makes his mark Jan Kopecký has fought back into contention for victory on Barum Czech Rally Zlín by winning the fifth stage of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier, the rain-hit Pindula test.

The local hero, chasing a third victory on the all-asphalt event, is now 10.4s behind overall leader Andreas Mikkelsen, in a similar ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, after he went 9.2s faster than the Norwegian. “It’s raining and we’re on slicks but still it’s quite okay so something strange is happening,” said Kopecký after completing the 18.43-kilometre run. “It was very muddy in a few places.”

Mikkelsen started the stage leading by 5.7s but his advantage ahead of Juho Hänninen has now been trimmed to 1.4s after he was 4.3s slower than the Finn through the test. “There was no problem, it was just a very tricky stage inside the woods,” said the 2011 IRC champion. “We played it safe but maybe a little too safe. We need to be smart.”

Hänninen, who took 4.9s longer than Kopecký to complete the run, said: “I was driving on the limit and a few times there was some last-minute braking.”

The engine misfire that dogged Patrik Flodin in stage four continues to hamper the Swede who confirmed that he had been unable to rectify the fault on the preceding road section. He was 41.5s slower than Kopecký in his PS Engineering-run M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000.

Czech touring car racer and rallysprint ace Tomáš Kostka, the fastest IRC runner through Friday’s superspecial in Zlín, maintains fourth overall after impressing again with the second fastest time in his privateer Fabia, 2.9s down on Kopecký.

click: ircseries.com/news/844


Aigner takes IRC Production Cup lead as Nikara flies

Andreas Aigner has moved into the lead of the IRC Production Cup in his Subaru Impreza STI after five stages of Barum Czech Rally Zlín.

However, it was his fellow Subaru driver Jarkko Nikara who was the real hero by going a sensational third fastest through the 18.43-kilomete Pindula test, 4.7s adrift of stage winner Jan Kopecký in a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.

Aigner’s advantage over Jaroslav Orsák is now 4.1s after the Czech reported taking a cautious approach through Pindula. Nikara is up to third in the category, despite being saddled with a 60-second time penalty for leaving first service behind schedule while his mechanics rushed to complete a gearbox change.

In the IRC 2WD Cup, Martin Kangur is out after he collided with a wall on stage four in his Honda Civic Type R.

click: ircseries.com/news/845


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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
After SS6: IRC champion hits back in Czech Republic

Andreas Mikkelsen has hit back in the battle for Intercontinental Rally Challenge glory on Barum Czech Rally Zlín by winning the first 11.38-kilometre Lukov run for ŠKODA UK Motorsport.

Mikkelsen was fastest by 2.3s through the all-asphalt rally’s sixth stage to grow his advantage over Juho Hänninen to 4.9s. Jan Kopecký, who was 2.3s adrift of Mikkelsen through the run, is now 12.7s behind the rapid Norwegian. “There was not so much standing water in that stage so it was better for the tyres,” said Mikkelsen.

Factory ŠKODA driver Kopecký said: “The car and tyres are very good, we are trying to go as fast as possible.” Hänninen added: “We had a better feeling, there is much better grip and the tyres are working very well.”

Petter Solberg Engineering’s Patrik Flodin said the misfire that has hampered his progress this afternoon has been largely cured after changes to his M-Sport Ford Fiesta’s ECU. “It’s not 100 per cent but it’s better,” said the Swede, who was 9.7s slower than Mikkelsen.

Jaromir Tarabus is driving with no working powersteering on his Kresta Racing Fabia, which failed on stage five. He was 52.7s slower than Mikkelsen. Robert Barrable changed a punctured tyre prior to the stage getting underway. He holds sixth overall in his ŠKODA Ireland Fabia.

click: ircseries.com/news/846


After SS7: Hanninen back in front as lead changes again

Juho Hänninen is back in the lead of Barum Czech Rally Zlín as erstwhile pacesetter Andreas Mikkelsen lost ground through the first Tesák test.

The defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion said marker poles by the side of the road in one section had gone since the reconnaissance, making his pacenotes less effective. “They were not correct at all and I lose so much time in the last part because I had no cuts left in my tyres,” said Mikkelsen, who is 11.1s adrift of first place.

Jan Kopecký, who was fastest through the stage by 5.4s, reported a “very big moment” on a slippery section in his factory ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000. The Czech is now 2.4s behind team-mate Hänninen. “It was so slippery Tarmac that many times I was just a passenge,” said Hänninen. “It was not fun anymore and I was slowing down because it’s easy to go off. It was like driving on ice with slick tyres.”

Sepp Wiegand completed the stage with damage to the rear of his ŠKODA Auto Deutschland Fabia after he slid off the road backwards into a tree. “It was a really slippery place,” said Wiegand, who lost more than one minute in his delay. “I spin and the back goes into the forest. The spectators had to get me back on the road.”

Roman Kresta impressed by going 3.1s slower than fellow Czech Kopecký in his privateer Fabia. Meanwhile, the sump guard on Michał Sołowow’s Peugeot 207 Super 2000 worked loose during the stage. Elsewhere, Robert Barrable feared he would roll when he suffered a “massive spin” in sixth gear, hitting two trees in the process.

Following a 30-minute service halt in Otrokovice, stage eight, Lukov 2, gets underway at 18:07hrs local time.

click: ircseries.com/news/847


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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
After SS8: Former champion Hanninen holds Zlin lead

Juho Hänninen continues to top the Barum Czech Rally Zlín leaderboard following his second stage victory on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge counter.

The 2010 IRC champion completed the 11.38-kilometre Lukov stage in 6m40.0s, just one second faster than ŠKODA Motorsport team-mate Jan Kopecký. In the battle for outright victory, Hänninen’s lead over Kopecký stands at 3.4s with one stage of day one remaining. “It was much drier on this stage, we had good grip for this stage but we’ll see for the next one,” said the Finn.

Andreas Mikkelsen, who equalled Kopecký’s time, reported that his ŠKODA UK entry was “moving a lot” on the bumpy surface. He’s 12.1s off the lead heading to the Tesák stage, which is understood to be wetter.

Roman Kresta was fourth quickest in his self-run Fabia with Patrik Flodin sixth fastest, despite a soft set-up resulting in the sump guard on his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 touching the ground on occasion.

click: ircseries.com/news/848


After SS9: Mikkelsen drops back in battle for Zlin glory

Juho Hänninen has extended his lead of Barum Czech Rally Zlín to 11.4s after winning Saturday’s final stage in his ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000 as Andreas Mikkelsen slips back in the battle for first place.

Hänninen was 8.0s ahead of the chasing pack following another strong performance by the 2010 IRC champion, who has yet to win the all-asphalt Czech round. “We had a good tyre now with no cut, we are still here but it’s a long way to go,” said the Finn.

While Hänninen celebrated another stage best, there was frustration for ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s current IRC title-holder Andreas Mikkelsen, who reported a lack of confidence and slipped 29.4s off the lead. “It’s such a difficult stage and I don’t have any confidence in my pacenotes, I lose a lot of time. It’s the last slippery part where I don’t go fast enough. Maybe I need to push harder but then there’s a big risk to go off.”

By completing the stage, Jan Kopecký has secured his second Czech championship title. However, he now trails team-mate Hänninen by more than 10s starting the final day as he chases his third victory in Zlín.

Sepp Wiegand opted for a cautious approach after his crash on the first run through the 19.18-kilometre Tesák test, completing the stage more than one minute off the pace, while Patrik Flodin had to stop to change a puncture, which he picked up approximately halfway through the run. “It was a shame because it was really fun to drive,” said Flodin. “I’d made some adjustment to the suspension and it was really nice. It was halfway through when we got the puncture so we decided to stop.”

Tomáš Kostka rounded out a strong day with the third fastest time in his privateer Fabia. The leader after Friday night’s opening stage is fourth overall, 18.7s behind Mikkelsen. “For us it’s not too bad, I’m really satisfied today because I did not expect to be here,” said the Czech circuit racing ace. “We did not make any mistake and tomorrow I try to keep this position.”

Robert Barrable reported backing off due to the treacherous nature of the stage caused by a lack of grip and reduced visibility in the tree-lined sections. He was 55.2s behind Hänninen but continues to occupy sixth overall.

A 45-minute service halt in Otrokovice awaits the crews. Sunday’s first stage, Halenkovice, goes live at 08:57hrs local time.

click: ircseries.com/news/850


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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
IRC Barum Czech Rally Zlin day one review: Hanninen on top

Juho Hänninen heads the battle of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge greats on Barum Czech Rally Zlín following a day of high drama on demanding all-asphalt stages, four of which were broadcast live on Eurosport and free-to-air Czech TV.

Finn Hänninen, IRC title-winner in 2010, leads three-time runner-up Jan Kopecký by 11.4s with defending IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen 18.0s behind the Czech hero heading into Sunday’s six special stages. With the ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000-driving trio winning a total of 21 IRC events between them, the final-day chase for IRC glory is set to thrill, particularly if rain once again forms the backdrop to the high-speed action.

Hänninen, chasing his first victory in Czech Republic, began Saturday’s eight tests trailing surprise overnight leader Tomáš Kostka by 6.4s. He moved in front by winning the day’s opening run following an inspired decision to opt for slick tyres for the drying stage when most of his rivals went for intermediate or rain tyres believing the conditions would be worse. However, his choice of a less soft tyre for the rain-hit second loop left him without vital grip on occasion and he began to slip back, only to retake top spot when Mikkelsen struggled on the first run Tesák stage, which would also prove his nemeses when it brought the day’s action to a close this evening.

The ŠKODA UK Motorsport ace, fastest on three stages during the course of the day, reported marker poles visible during reconnaissance were no longer present, which he said had made his pacenotes less effective. With his confidence waning for the second run, the 23-year-old Norwegian slipped almost half a minute off the lead heading to the overnight halt in Otrokovice.

“It was such a difficult stage and I didn’t have any confidence in my pacenotes,” said Mikkeslen. “It was the last slippery part on really shiny Tarmac where I didn’t go fast enough. Maybe I needed to push harder but then there’s a big risk to go off. We’ve dropped back but there’s still a long way to go.”

Hänninen also reported problems of his own in Tesák, particularly on the first run through: “It was like driving on ice with slick tyres and I don’t understand how I stayed on the road. Luckily we are here and leading and the car is in good shape but anything can happen yet.”

By completing Saturday’s stages, Jan Kopecký has won his second Czech championship, which is running in tandem with the main IRC event. “This was my target and now I will speak to the team if I can have a big fight tomorrow with the other drivers,” he said.

More: ircseries.com/news/851


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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

After SS10: Drama as Mikkelsen and Hanninen hit trouble

Day two of Barum Czech Rally Zlín has got off to a dramatic start with leader Juho Hänninen suffering a spin and defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Andreas Mikkelsen stopping twice with two punctures.

Mikkelsen, who had been in third but slips down to at least 10th place following his extensive delay, said: “It was going into a junction, I just took some extra space, went over a kerb and it must have been big enough to get a puncture on both wheels. I thought I would be okay but we needed to stop two times because of this. I changed one but then had to stop again. It was not a good stage.”

The Norwegian, in a ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, was the only one of the leading trio to carry two spares, a decision he will be thankful of now. He had left morning service in Otrokovice with medium compound slick tyres with a ‘w’ cut to cope with the damp conditions in the forest areas and soft compound slick tyres, again with a ‘w’ cut at the rear.

Hänninen, running on hard compound slick tyres, reported spinning close to the stage start, which meant he had to reverse before he could continue. His lead over ŠKODA Motorsport team-mate Jan Kopecký, who won the stage, is now down to 5.2s. Hänninen was 6.2s slower than Kopecký through the 21.40-kilometre Halenkovice test.

“It was very tricky because it was raining quite a lot from the middle of the stage,” said the Czech ace, who is running on medium compound slick tyres. “There was fog and it was dark and you were not able to see the road.”

Tomáš Kostka said he elected not to push due to the slippery nature of the stage and the lack of visibility under tree cover. He was fifth quickest behind Roman Kresta.

Andreas Aigner, the IRC Production Cup leader who is running first on the road in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI, said: “It was good. The beginning was quite slippery in the forests. Our tyre choice was too hard but it was getting warmer and foggy for the last two or three kilometres. It’s raining in the stage a little but not too much.”

Robert Barrable said he regretted not attaching the lamp pod to his ŠKODA Ireland Fabia due to it being dark under tree cover. His margin over the chasing Jaromír Tarabus in the battle for sixth place is now down to 3.9s. Tarabus impressed with the third fastest time. Meanwhile, Karl Kruuda reported a lack of confidence on his mixed compound slicks.

click: ircseries.com/news/859


After SS11: Battle rages for IRC glory in Zlin

The battle for victory on Barum Czech Rally Zlín continues to intensify with factory ŠKODA drivers Juho Hänninen and Jan Kopecký embroiled in a close fight on the rain-hit Intercontinental Rally Challenge round.

Hänninen still leads after going fastest by 0.2s on the 11.42-kilometre Kudlovice run, despite a trip into a field, which left his Fabia Super 2000 with a cracked windscreen for the upcoming first Maják stage, which will be shown live on Eurosport and free-to-view Czech TV from 10:10hrs local time.

“I am on the hardest [compound] tyre from the stock so it’s quite interesting,” said the Finn. Kopecký, who trails Hänninen in the overall standings by 5.4s, said: “It’s really crazy weather. The forecast is not for rain but it’s raining like hell on this stage and 15 kilometres away it’s full sunshine.”

With driving conditions becoming increasingly difficult due to the slippery nature of the stage surface, some crews are reporting not being able to push as hard as they would like, particularly as the majority have chosen tyres in the belief it would be drier.

In the battle for what is now fifth place, Robert Barrable is staving off the threat posed by Jaromír Tarabus after going 0.7s quicker than the Czech. The Irishman’s advantage stands at 4.6s heading to stage 12. Having slipped behind him on the previous stage Tomáš Kostka is back ahead of Roman Kresta for what is now third place following Andreas Mikkelsen’s puncture on the stage 10. However, the Czech ŠKODA drivers are separated by a scant 0.2s.

The recovering Mikkelsen, who was third fastest and moves ahead of Peugeot driver Michał Sołowow into ninth overall, said: “I’m just trying to get a certain rhythm. If we can catch some places that would be nice but not with stupid driving.”

click: ircseries.com/news/860


After SS12: Hanninen flies in Zlin to extend IRC lead

A stunning stage time by Juho Hänninen has handed the former Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion a lead of 16.2s on Barum Czech Rally Zlín.

The ŠKODA Motorsport driver was 10.8s faster than team-mate Jan Kopecký through the 23.38-kilometre Maják stage, which was shown live on Eurosport and free-to-air Czech TV. “It was good,” said Hänninen, whose tally of 10 IRC wins is more than any other driver has managed. “I really was pushing that I can promise. We are here and that’s nice.”

Roman Kresta benefited from Tomáš Kostka’s “big moment” in the stage to move into third place in his self-run Fabia. Kostka, who specialises in circuit racing, completed the stage with a damaged wheel rim and now trails Kresta by 8.6s with three stages remaining.

Jaromír Tarabus, whose Fabia is prepared by Kresta’s team, has demoted Robert Barrable for fifth place, benefiting from his decision to bolt two wet-weather tyres on the front of his car ahead of the stage. The Czech now heads Barrable by 7.6s in the overall standings after going 1.7s faster than team-mate Kresta. “It’s good to push on the main road where it’s abrasive but in under the trees I don’t have the confidence to push,” said Barrable.

With no spare tyres available having used both to replace his punctured covers on stage 11, Andreas Mikkelsen is having to adopt a cautious approach in his ŠKODA UK-backed Fabia. The Norwegian was fifth quickest and holds ninth overall.

Crews are now heading to service in Otrokovice for a 30-minute halt ahead of the final loop of three stages.

click: ircseries.com/news/861


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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
After SS13: Kopecky out, Kostka closes on Kresta

Jan Kopecký is out of Barum Czech Rally Zlín. The local hero was in second place starting the 21.40-kilometre Halenkovice stage but stopped early in the run with a reported engine failure on his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.

Kopecký’s exit means team-mate Juho Hänninen is all but assured of his first victory on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge round. The Finn’s lead is now 1m47.2s with two stages remaining.

“I don’t know what has happened but only a few kilometres from the start he was at the side of the road,” said Hänninen. “It looks like it was something technical because he has stopped and is not coming. Now we have to find the rhythm again because it’s not easy any more after being in a big fight for the last two days.”

Meanwhile, Tomáš Kostka has cut Roman Kresta’s margin in the battle for what is now second place by going almost seven seconds faster than his fellow Fabia driver through the second running of Halenkovice. Kostka is now 1.8s behind Kresta, the three-time winner in Zlín, with two stages remaining.

Karl Kruuda reported a loss of grip midway through the stage when his slick tyres began to overheat, while Robert Barrable suffered a heavy landing after jump and continues to slip behind Czech driver Jaromír Tarabus in the battle for fifth place. Tarabus impressed with the second fastest time.

Defending IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen, who is out of contention for victory in Zlín following his double puncture on the first running of Halenkovice test, said his soft compound slick tyres were less effective for the largely dry stage.

Andreas Aigner, who is running first on the road, maintains top spot in the IRC Production Cup classification at the wheel of his Stohl Racing Subaru Impreza R4 STI. “It’s slippery with a lot of dirt on the road from the first lap but okay, no problems,” said the Austrian. “In the forest it’s still damp.”

click: ircseries.com/news/863


After SS14: Kresta edges clear of Kostka in Zlin

Roman Kresta has edged clear of Tomáš Kostka in the battle for second place on Barum Czech Rally Zlín, round nine of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

Kresta, a three-time winner of the all-asphalt event, was 6.9s faster than his fellow Czech through the second 11.42-kilometre Kudlovice test to open up a slender advantage of 8.7s with one stage remaining. “We had a big moment on stage 13, we were off and we were very lucky,” said Kresta. “It’s bad luck for Jan for sure but I am happy the conditions have dried up.”

With a new windscreen fitted to his ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000 after the original was damaged on stage 11, Juho Hänninen is driving conservatively in order to preserve his comfortable overall advantage. “I’m trying to take it more safely now, driving in the middle of the road and nothing special. It’s not so easy to keep the rhythm but with one stage to go for sure we are not pushing.”

Toshi Arai completed the stage with a rear-left puncture on his Subaru Impreza R4 STI.

click: ircseries.com/news/864


SS15: Final stage cancelled

The final stage of Barum Czech Rally Zlín has been cancelled following a decision by the clerk of the course due to an accident on stage 13 of the event.

click: ircseries.com/news/865


IRC Barum Czech Rally Zlin day two review: Hanninen wins Juho Hänninen has claimed his maiden victory on Barum Czech Rally Zlín.

The former Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion was leading comfortably after 14 stages when organisers stopped the event ahead of the final test following an accident on stage 13.

Miroslav Regner, the event clerk of the course, confirmed that a Czech male spectator had died and a Hungarian male spectator had suffered non-life threatening injuries and was being treated in hospital. The crew of the car, Václav Kopáček and Tomáš Singer, were not injured. An investigation has been launched. IRC promoter Eurosport Events joins the rally organisers in extending its condolences to the family of the deceased.

In terms of the outcome of the rally, Hänninen, from Finland, had been in a close fight with ŠKODA Motorsport team-mate Jan Kopecký starting the final day but edged 16.2s clear when he beat Kopecký by more than 10s following a flat-out charge on stage 12, Maják, shown live on Eurosport and free-to-air Czech TV. But any hopes Kopecký had of fighting back on the next run, Halenkovice, ended when his Fabia Super 2000’s engine failed after a handful of kilometres of the 21.40-kilometre test, which was subsequently neutralised following Kopáček’s accident.

“I really was pushing that I can promise,” said Hänninen, whose tally of 11 IRC wins alongside navigator Mikko Markkula is more than any other driver has managed in the six-year history of the series. “I don’t know what happened to Jan but only a few kilometres from the stage start he was at the side of the road and it looks like it was something technical. It was not easy then to find the rhythm after being in a big fight for the last two days.”

Defending IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen was in third overall when a double puncture on the day’s first stage dropped him to 10th. He was in eighth when the rally was stopped. “At a junction we went a little bit extra wide and hit a kerb,” said the ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver. “We stopped to change a puncture, but we didn’t realise we had two punctures and had to stop again – that’s why we lost so much time. After that we had to be really careful and not take any cuts, because if we had another puncture that would be the end of our rally. It’s been a difficult weekend.”

Roman Kresta finished second following a close fight with fellow Czech and ŠKODA privateer Tomáš Kostka, who led after the Friday night’s opening special. After overcoming powersteering problems on day one Kresta’s team-mate Jaromír Tarabus finished fourth after moving clear of Robert Barrable who impressed in fifth place for ŠKODA Ireland. Estonian teenager Karl Kruuda completed the top six.

more: ircseries.com/news/866


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Rally Ziln Videos: ircseries.com/videogallery


Next Rnd 10 Prime Yalta Rally Ukraine - Asphalt 15-16 Sept

The asphalt-based event uses stages in mountains overlooking the Black Sea city of Yalta in Ukraine’s Crimea region. While the compact rally was new to the IRC in 2011, it has been a long-term fixture in the country’s national rally championship.

Official Website: yaltarally.com/?lang=en

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