Kopecky King, Griebel ERC U28 Champ

Kopecky King, Griebel ERC U28 ChampFrom ERC Media [ 27/08/2017 ].
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Former ERC champion Jan Kopecký has made it three wins in as many FIA European Rally Championship starts by extending his unbeaten run on home soil to 17 events with his sixth outright victory on Barum Czech Rally Zlín today. But the ŠKODA Motorsport ace, co-driven by Pavel Dresler, wasn’t the only driver celebrating at the finish in the university city of Zlín this afternoon with Marijan Griebel provisionally crowned ERC Junior Under 28 champion following win number three of the campaign. Subject to FIA confirmation, Griebel gets a prize drive in a World Rally Car on a European round of the world championship in 2018 as his reward.

Elsewhere, Aleks Zawada topped the ERC Junior Under 27 category for the first time in 2017 to claim the title lead by five points and head the race for the 100,000 euros career progression fund on offer to the eventual champion. The Polish privateer also won the ERC3 category, as Tibor Érdi Jr clinched the ERC2 spoils. Emma Falcón won the ERC Ladies’ Trophy on her Zlín debut, while the ACCR Czech Team top-scored in the FIA European Rally Championship for Teams.

“It was a really great battle and thanks to the team and Pavel for a really great job,” said Kopecký. “The first day was really tricky with the battle with Alexey. Even though he was not 100 per cent fit he did a really great result. But seeing all the Czech flags and Czech fans was really something special.”

Brave Lukyanuk can’t stop rapid Kopecký in ERC

While Kopecký became the sixth different winner in this year’s ERC, it was a case of what might have been for Alexey Lukyanuk. After losing out to Kopecký on Friday night’s street stage in Zlín and Biskupice on Saturday morning, Lukyanuk responded in Semetín in stunning fashion, beating his Czech rival by 6.3s to take the rally lead by 0.3s despite admitting he was struggling to brake as hard as he would like while he recovers from the multiple fractures he sustained in a testing crash in Russia in early May. With Lukyanuk more cautious through the 22.87 kilometres of Troják, Kopecký seized the opportunity to regain the lead only for Lukyanuk to respond again with the best time in Březová. But a spin for Lukyanuk at the start of the second run through Biskupice handed Kopecký an advantage of 6.7s before a powersteering issue on his Ford Fiesta R5 resulted in further delay for the Russian. He completed leg one 16.6s behind Kopecký but ready to pounce should his rival have faltered on leg two. But there were no mistakes from Czech champion Kopecký who sprinted to victory as Lukyanuk’s injuries caused further discomfort, forcing him to brake with his right foot and settle for second. “Unfortunately I could not fight so we had to refocus and think about the championship,” said Lukyanuk, who is up to third in the standings.

Czech aces battle for ERC podium

Local legend Roman Kresta beat fellow Czech and brother-in-law Tomáš Kostka to the final place on the podium in a thrilling final-stage decider, which earned him the Colin McRae Flat Out Trophy for his efforts. Kostka inherited third following Václav Pech’s retirement due to a double puncture this morning. However, he couldn’t hold off the charging Kresta and settled for fourth with Kajetan Kajetanowicz extending his advantage at the top of the European championship standings in fifth ahead of sixth-placed Griebel. Martin Koči took seventh with Pavel Valoušek eighth following a late puncture.

SEAJETS-backed Bruno Magalhães inherited ninth from Nikolay Gryazin when the Russian teenager stopped to change a puncture on the final stage. Bryan Bouffier, who was battling for third when a puncture dropped him back on Saturday afternoon, completed the top 10. Łukasz Habaj was P13, Antonín Tlusťák P17 and Murat Bostanci P21 for Castrol Ford Team Turkey. László Német was on course to finish one place behind Bostanci only to retire on the penultimate stage with damage following an off. Albert von Thurn und Taxis restarted after stopping with a mechanical issue on stage eight and finished P45. Polish champion Grzegorz Grzyb retired with engine damage following a crash on SS3. Szeja brothers Jarek and Marcin crashed out on stage seven with Dávid Botka retiring at penultimate service with gearbox failure. Former Le Mans 24 Hours winner Romain Dumas battled back from two punctures and a broken engine mounting in his Porsche 997 GT3 to come home in P59 after another puncture nearing the finish.

ERC Junior Under 27: Double joy for Zawada

Aleks Zawada maintained that only victory would do before the rally and the Polish driver duly delivered with his first win of the season to demote Chris Ingram for the lead of the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship. Czech federation-backed Filip Mareš moved ahead of newcomer Julian Wagner on SS11 and held on despite late clutch dramas. Simon Wagner overhauled his younger brother Julian on the last stage for his first ERC Junior U27 podium by 2.2s. Dominik Brož overcame electrical issues to finish fifth ahead of Castrol Ford Team Turkey’s Buǧra Banaz. Chris Ingram, delayed by a broken wishbone starting Friday’s opening stage, took seventh with Tamara Molinaro hampered by powersteering issues in eighth. Catie Munnings took ninth with Jari Huttunen a non-starter on leg two following his roll on stage four.

ERC Junior Under 28: Griebel’s title triumph

Marijan Griebel achieved yet another career high by clinching the FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship with two rounds remaining*. Starting leg two with a margin of 11.1s over Jan Černý, the German’s path to victory was eased when his Czech rival was delayed changing a puncture on stage 12. Nevertheless, it was an error-free and hugely accomplished performance from the German who receives a prize drive in a World Rally Car on a round of the world championship for his efforts. Černý didn’t leave his home round empty handed after battling to take second from Nikolay Gryazin when the Russian suffered a puncture of his own on the last stage although he held off José Suárez for third by 1.6s in a dramatic finish. Josh Moffett took fifth with Suárez’s Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate Pepe López sixth.

ERC2: Érdi Jr gets revenge with Zlín win

Not even a puncture could knock Tibor Érdi Jr off his stride as the Hungarian sped to his second win of the season to banish the memories of his final-stage retirement on Rally Rzeszow. Érdi Jr picked up the front-right deflation on SS12 but such was his pace that the Hungarian not only kept his lead but also managed to beat class rivals Sergey Remennik and Zelindo Melegari to the stage win. Melegari placed second in the final classification to boost his title hopes with Remennik restarting on Sunday after myriad technical problems ruled him out prior to Saturday’s closing stage.

PROVISIONAL TOP POSITIONS (after 15 stages, 205.57 kilometres)
http://www.rallye-info.com/event_results.asp?event=705

FIA ERC2: Tibor Érdi (HUN)/György Papp (HUN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
FIA ERC3: Aleks Zawada (POL)/Grzegorz Dachowski (POL) Opel ADAM R2
FIA ERC Junior Under 28: Marijan Griebel (DEU)/Stefan Kopczyk (DEU) ŠKODA Fabia R5
FIA ERC Junior Under 27: Aleks Zawada (POL)/Grzegorz Dachowski (POL) Opel ADAM R2
ERC Ladies’ Trophy: Emma Falcón (ESP)
Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy: Roman Kresta (CZE)

RALLY LEADERS
SS1-SS2: Jan Kopecký
SS3: Alexey Lukyanuk
SS4-15: Jan Kopecký

WATCH THE ERC ON EUROSPORT AND EUROSPORT PLAYER

WHAT’S NEXT?

Rally di Roma Capitale, 15-17 September 2017: The progression of this exciting asphalt event has been remarkable. Having only run for the first time in 2013, Rally di Roma Capitale will make its ERC debut in 2017 as Italy returns to the European championship for the first time since 2013 when Rallye Sanremo was part of the calendar. With stages running in and around the Italian capital and with the drive and expertise of Motorsport Italia very much behind the event, Rally di Roma Capitale is set to be a popular addition to the ERC calendar when it counts for European and Italian championship points in mid-September.

*Subject to FIA confirmation