Peugeot Belgium driver Freddy Loix claimed his second IRC win of the season by taking victory on the Barum Rally Zlin, round six of the series, boosting him up to third
overall in the standings and increasing Peugeot's lead of the manufacturers' championship.
Having headed the opening day by just four seconds over Peugeot Belgium team-mate Nicolas Vouilloz, Loix turned up the heat on day two to come nearly a minute clear of the Frenchman.
“I needed to score some points to improve my place in the championship, so this is exactly the best way to do it,” the WRC veteran said, "My objective is still to be in the top three at the end of the year, so another win is the best way to go about it.”
By finishing second, Vouilloz increased his lead in the drivers' standings to twelve points over Peugeot Italy driver Luca Rossetti. Vouilloz, who claimed the opening spectator superspecial stage on Friday night in Zlin, challenged Loix for victory right up until Sunday morning's loop of stages. A loose screw on SS11 meant that a front driveshaft broke loose, reducing his Peugeot 207 S2000 to just three-wheel drive.
And Vouilloz's dramas were not over in the afternoon, as a broken starter motor on the penultimate stage meant that he lost another 30 seconds. As a result, he headed into the final stage with a margin of just 6.5secs over third-placed Bryan Bouffier.
The Frenchman completed the podium was another 207 S2000 run by Peugeot Poland. He had been handed a contentious one-minute penalty on Saturday evening for
clocking into SS9 too early, but was the only driver to properly challenge the two Peugeot Belgium drivers on pace. However, Luca Rossetti had occupied the final podium place until the final stage on Saturday, when he picked up a puncture that cost nearly three minutes.
The top local driver was Pavel Valousek, whose fourth place finish in a Peugeot 207 S2000 is the best overall result obtained on an IRC event by a member of the BFGoodrich Drivers' Team. After a thrilling battle that went all the way to the final stage, the young Czech just beat the Abarth Grande Punto S2000 of former European champion Renato Travaglia.
The Barum Rally Zlin, run on a tricky selection of asphalt roads totalling 263 competitive kilometres, proved to be the most punishing round of the IRC held so far – with several top contenders falling by the wayside. The first and most dramatic retirement was that of local hero Roman Kresta, who rolled his Peugeot 207 on the opening stage of Saturday.
The factory Abarth team had a difficult event, with both the Grande Puntos of Giandomenico Basso and Anton Alen forced to stop on the opening morning with gearbox problems. They started again under the SupeRally system on Sunday, but Alen had to retire once more with suspected gearbox problems, while Basso completed the event well down the order.
Volkswagen's Bernd Casier was set for a top ten result before crashing into a bridge parapet on SS11 this morning, and Mitsubishi's local hero Vaclav Pech was also running strongly before dropping out of contention with a broken sumpguard. The top Mitsubishi was local man Arazim Vaclav in 14th.
Result - Barum Rally Zlin
Peugeot 207 S2000 2h 24m 24.3s
Peugeot 207 S2000 +59.9s
Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m 09.6s
Peugeot 207 S2000 +2m 23.4s
Abarth Grande Punto +2m 26.2s
Peugeot 207 S2000 +3m 13.9s
Peugeot 207 S2000 +4m 09.1s
Peugeot 207 S2000 +6m 08.3s
Peugeot 207 S2000 +6m 22.5s
Peugeot 207 S2000 +6m 45.7s
Two-wheel drive winner:
Jan Slehofer (Fiat Punto S1600)
IRC standings (after six rounds):