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Most professional rally drivers couldn’t think of a better birthday present than a maiden victory at the Rallye Monte Carlo. And for Jan Kopecký, a five-time Czech rally champion and former European and Asia-Pacific championship winner, that dream came true this weekend after twelve years and seven appearances at the most famous event on the rallying calendar.

Jan Kopecký, alongside his co-driver Pavel Dresler, made his return to the Rallye Monte Carlo last year after a six-year absence and finished second in the WRC2 category behind teammate Andreas Mikkelsen. This year, as the only driver officially driving under the banner of ŠKODA Motorsport, he had sole responsibility and has thrived under the pressure.

Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rallye Monte Carlo 2018

He took a steady approach to the opening special stages, taking no unnecessary risks in the opening two-night tests which took place in treacherous icy conditions. But he still finished second in the WRC2 standings on SS1 and won SS2 to sit in the second position overnight, 19.1 seconds behind Eric Camilli.

On Friday, he took another victory on SS4 and with that came the lead of the WRC2 standings. Then he set about extending his advantage. And with his two major rivals, Teemu Suninen and Camilli, crashing out, he ended the day with a huge gap of almost eight and a half minutes back to the young Belgian Guillaume de Mevius.

 

With a healthy lead, Kopecký had no need to push too hard and take risks on Saturday as conditions remained tricky. In the morning drivers encountered some snow and plenty of slush, with later stages seeing some drying mud on the road as a result of drivers cutting corners.

Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rallye Monte Carlo 2018

He sailed through the day, maintaining a lead in the WRC2 standings and the RC2 class, as he used all of his experience to manage his drive.

It was the same story on Sunday, which was Kopecký’s 36th birthday, as he closed out the final four stages in style to claim that most precious of birthday gifts – his first ever victory at the most famous rally in the world, the Rallye Monte Carlo.

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Rozhovory při sobotním poledním servisu s posádkami: Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rallye Deutschland 2017

Jan Kopecký (born on 28 January 1982) made his first start at the Rallye Monte Carlo in 2006, driving a ŠKODA FABIA WRC and finishing eleventh overall. The following year, driving the same car, he improved on that, finishing eighth overall. In 2009, the Rallye Monte Carlo was part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) and was the first ever event for the FABIA S2000. Kopecký secured his best-ever result in Monte Carlo by finishing fourth overall. In the following two years, he steered the FABIA S2000 to fifth and eighth respectively. He didn’t return to the principality until 2017 when - driving a FABIA R5 - he finished an impressive eighth overall and second in the WRC2 standings, only losing out to teammate Andreas Mikkelsen. But a year later, he went one better, winning the WRC2 category by the largest margin since the Rallye Monte Carlo was part of the WRC2 championship, as well as finishing first in the RC2 class.

2018 Rallye Monte Carlo – WRC2 Final Results:
1. Kopecký / Dresler (CZE/CZE) ŠKODA FABIA R5 4:35:38.5 hrs
2. de Mevius / Louka (BEL/BEL) Peugeot 208 T16 +14:46.1 min
3. Sciessere / Zanella (ITA/ITA) Citroën DS3 R5 +22:47.7 min
4. Suninen / Markkula (FIN/FIN) Ford Fiesta R5 +33:31.1 min