Spectacular ŠKODAs secure Barum Czech Rally Zlín 1-2-3-4-5 result, as Gustavo Saba wins in Bolivia in the CODASUR championship, Julien Maurin claims victory in the French Gravel Championship, Pierre Roché wins Rallye National Coeur de France and 15-year-old Kalle Rovanperä edges closer to Latvian championship crown.
ŠKODA FABIA R5 secures remarkable 1-2-3-4-5 at the Barum Czech Rally Zlín
It was a remarkable weekend for ŠKODA Motorsport at the Barum Czech Rally Zlín, with ŠKODA FABIA R5 cars placing at 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th position in the overall standings and seven ŠKODAs inside the top 8.
It was the ŠKODA Motorsport FABIA R5 of Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler taking the win, securing no fewer than 10 of the 15 stages to claim victory by a margin of 2 minutes and 34 seconds. But behind them were a series of hugely impressive customer team performances too.
In second place was the Rufa Sport’s FABIA R5 of Tomáš Kostka / Ladislav Kučera, prepared by the BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team. They drove a fast and consistent rally and survived a scare on stage 12, in which they lost more than 40 seconds, to hold off a late push by Jan Černý to finish in second place by just 8 seconds.
It was Jan Černý and his co-driver Petr Černohorský, driving for the Mogul Czech National Team, who completed the all-ŠKODA FABIA R5 podium in third place. But for getting caught behind another car on the penultimate stage, they could have been one place higher, but in only their second outing in a FABIA R5, they were happy with third place.
Just outside the podium places in 4th spot was Energy Oil Motorsport’s FABIA R5 of Pavel Valoušek / Veronika Havelková. They had to contend with a few financial issues prior to the event which could have threatened their participation. And once out there, they started cautiously, but soon found some speed in response to the fast times being put in by others.
Their rally was not without incident after hitting a large stone on stage 7, which cost them a lot of time, and also suffering a puncture on stage 12. In the circumstances, they were happy with their eventual outcome.
In fifth place were Germans Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian. They endured a slow start and were down in 11th place after stage 3, but constantly climbed through the field, survived a puncture in the penultimate stage and a collision with an obstacle of some kind on the last stage too.
There was another notable drive from Vojtěch Štajf / František Rajnoha for the Klokočka ŠKODA Czech National Team. They also started slowly but made up ground as the event went on to claim a creditable seventh-placed finish, ahead of the ŠKODA FABIA S2000 of Miroslav Jakeš / Marcela Ehlová for Kimi Racing, who came home eighth.
An honourable mention too must go to Jaromír Tarabus / Daniel Trunkát of the T&T Czech National Team. They were well in contention for a top 5 finish too and actually stood fourth after stage 12, before an accident on stage 13 forced them to retire with just 2 stages remaining.
After the remarkable outcome of this rally, it will be interesting to see how the next rounds European and Czech Rally Championships play out. The final round of the Czech Rally Championship will be the Rally Příbram, which takes place from 30th September to 2nd October. Meanwhile, the penultimate round of the European Rally Championship will be the Rally Liepāja in Latvia from 16th to 18th September.
Gustavo Saba secures maximum CODASUR points at Rally Santa Cruz
There was more good news for ŠKODA in the 4th round of the CODASUR championship in Bolivia, where Gustavo Saba and his Argentinian co-driver Fernando Mussano took victory in the Rally Santa Cruz.
They won in their ŠKODA FABIA R5 the rally by a margin of 3 minutes and 45 seconds from their great rival and the championship leader, Diego Dominguez. And with just one event left to go, this win means Saba can still finish top of the overall championship standings too.
Julien Maurin moves closer to the title with victory at the Rallye Terre de Lozère
At the Rallye Terre de Lozère – Sud de France in the French Gravel Rally Championship, Julien Maurin / Olivier Ural secured their second win of the season to move to the top of the championship standings with one event still remaining.
The margin of victory was 40 seconds, which is all the more impressive when you realise that the cars that finished in second and third place were both more powerful WRC vehicles.
For Julien Maurin, the events will now come thick and fast now, with a group three rallies in three weeks. First up is the Tour de Corse (29th September to 2nd October), followed by the Rallye Terre des Cardabelles (8th and 9th October; the final round of this championship) and finally the Rally of Spain (13th to 16th October).
COMING UP THIS WEEKEND
Rally of Lebanon
Beirut, Lebanon; 2nd to 4th September; 4th round of Middle East Rally Championship; asphalt event, 11 special stages, around 209 km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5s:
Nasser Al-Attiyah / Matthieu Baumel, Abdo Feghali / Marc Haddad
Abdo Feghali has started this event 15 times and finished on the podium 8 times, but is yet to claim a maiden victory here. This will also be his first ever race in a FABIA R5; ŠKODA has won this event once before, back in 2010, when Roger Feghali (a 12-times winner here) and Nabil Njeim won by a margin of 6 minutes 37 seconds in a FABIA S2000.
Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine
Morzine, eastern France; 1st to 3rd September; 6th round of French Tarmac Rally Championship; asphalt event, 12 special stages, around 197 km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5s:
Sylvain Michel / Jérôme Degout (Team 2C Yacco), Pierre Roché / Julie Faure (Team FJ Elf), Ludovic Gal / Olivier Belot (Team FJ Elf)
Sylvain Michel has finished on the podium in each of the 5 events in the French Tarmac Rally Championship, but is yet to win a rally. He is still top of the championship standings though, and a win here, with other results going his way, could him crowned French Tarmac Rally Champion.
Omloop van Vlaanderen
Roeselare, western Belgium; 2nd to 3rd September; 7th round of Belgian Rally Championship; asphalt event, 19 special stages, around 182 km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5s:
Melissa Debackere / Cindy Cokelaere, Bernhard ten Brinke / David Thierie, Vincent Verschueren / Veronique Hostens
A ŠKODA FABIA R5 won this event last year, with Freddy Loix / Johan Gitsels winning by 3 minutes and 15 seconds; The same driving team has helped a ŠKODA FABIA R5 to win every round of the Belgian Rally Championship this year so far.