Jan Kopecký and co-driver Pavel Dresler have their sights set on winning the traditional rally in the Czech Rally Championship (MČR). After four wins at the first four rounds of the season, the Czech ŠKODA duo is the top favourite to triumph at the 46th Barum Czech Rally Zlín. However, the international opposition is strong at the asphalt event in Moravia – the Barum Rally also forms part of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) this year.

Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. Barum Czech Rally Zlín 2016
Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. Barum Czech Rally Zlín 2016

This year’s Barum Czech Rally Zlín consists of 229.94 kilometres against the clock, spread over 15 special stages. The first highlight for the drivers and fans comes as early as Friday evening, when the streets of the 700-year-old industrial city of Zlín host the spectator stage of the same name. Thousands of fans are expected to enjoy the rally action up close and personal – and this year they are in for a special treat: the FABIA R5 of Kopecký / Dresler will feature a special red/black livery for the first time.

Should Kopecký win, it would be the 34-year-old’s fifth victory at the Barum Rally.

Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Škoda Auto Deutschland. ADAC Rallye Deutschland 2016
Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Škoda Auto Deutschland. ADAC Rallye Deutschland 2016

A total of eleven ŠKODA FABIA R5s will start at the rally around Zlín, including the car of Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian, who currently lead the German Rally Championship (DRM). The German duo will line up at the Barum Rally with support from ŠKODA Motorsport. Kreim has already made one guest appearance in this season’s MČR at the recent Rally Bohemia. This month has already seen him in action in both the World Rally Championship (WRC2) event in Germany and the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), in which Kreim is currently second overall.

The youngster was on course for a podium finish for long stretches of the Rally Bohemia in July. However, a puncture ultimately meant he had to settle for seventh place.

Did you know that…

…the production version of the ŠKODA FABIA is also available in red/black?
The ŠKODA FABIA Monte Carlo and FABIA Combi Monte Carlo feature such elements as the large, black panoramic glass roof, black radiator grille, black alloys and black wing mirrors. The sporty Monte Carlo models are a homage to all those who have been involved in and shown such commitment to the Czech manufacturer’s success on the rally scene.

…the opening stage of the Barum Czech Rally traditionally leads the cars through the streets around the 700-year-old city of Zlín?
It starts at 21:00 on Friday evening and consists of three laps of 3.1 kilometres, bringing the total distance of the spectacular spectator stage to 9.3 kilometres. The competitors must also complete two laps on the second stage – Březová – on Saturday morning.

…the iconic rally has been won by the same car for five years in a row twice in its illustrious history?
It goes without saying that it was a ŠKODA on both occasions. Between 1976 and 1980, the winners were all at the wheel of a ŠKODA 130 RS. Meanwhile, the ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 was the winning car between 2009 and 2013. Last year, Jan Kopecký won in its successor – the FABIA R5.

…the weather can play a key role at the Barum Rally?
The fast asphalt routes, some of which lead through the thick forests around Zlín, can soon become very slippery should it rain. As such, the drivers must be fully-focussed at all times.

…the Barum Czech Rally Zlín first featured in the Czechoslovakian Rally Championship in 1972?
It also formed part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) for many years and was in contention for a place on the calendar of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2005. Since merging with the IRC, the rally has formed part of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC), as it did in 2013.

…the rally takes its name from a Czech tyre maker?
The company is based in Otrokovice and is a subsidiary of shoe manufacturer Bata, which was founded in Zlín in 1894.

…several hundred journalists report on the Barum Czech Rally every year?
In 2015, 294 media representatives from 20 countries reported from the classic rally in the Czech Republic.