An incredible eight ŠKODA Fabia S2000s head the field at the end of the opening leg of the Barum Czech Rally Zlín, as the local manufacturer dominates its round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Juho Hänninen, Jan Kopecký and Andreas Mikkelsen are the top three drivers, having mastered today’s slippery conditions better than most.
The fab Fabia trio have been very close all day, although Andreas certainly doesn’t appear to like the 11.9 mile (19.18km) Tesák test, as the ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver dropped 33.4 seconds to leader Hänninen over the two runs (SS7/9) – most during the slippery final section, which had shinny black Tarmac and all the grip properties of ice.
“The performance has been good and Ola and I feel happy with the job that we’ve done, but there is this one stage I’ve struggled with. We tried a new set-up on our Fabia S2000 today and it works really well when the road is twisty and narrow, but when it’s fast and the car is leaning at high speed it’s not so good. If you take that stage away we’d be leading the rally!
“We will make some changes tonight to the car and go out tomorrow on a different set-up. There are six really fast and long stages tomorrow, so everything is possible.”
Even with a sunnier forecast, tomorrow’s second and final leg will still be a challenge, with three stages in the morning and a repeat run of them in the afternoon. The day contains the 14.5 mile (23.38km) Maják stage (SS12/15) which is the longest of the event, run in the reverse direction to the last year and broadcast live on Eurosport. The finish ceremony is in Zlín at 14.30.
Positions after SS9
1. Juho Hänninen/Mikko Markkula (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….1hr 22mins 57.1secs
2. Jan Kopecký/Petr Starý (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+11.4secs
3. Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+29.4secs
4. Tomáš Kostka/ Miroslav Houšť (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+48.1secs
5. Roman Kresta/Petr Gross (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+56.7secs
6. Robert Barrable/Stuart Loudon (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+3mins 01.9secs
7. Karl Kruuda/Martin Järveoja (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+3mins 05.1secs
8. Jaromír Tarabus/Daniel Trunkát (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)….+3mins 26.2secs
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