IRC: Kopecky takes dramatic Zlin victory

“Okay I wanted to win but sometimes it's better to accept not winning and take some points, which is important for the championship,” Hanninen said. “The boys in front of me were on full attack and when I made a small mistake on stage 12 and thought I had a puncture they won eight seconds from me and that was it.”

Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg's Thierry Neuville was the leading Peugeot 207 driver in fourth. He found Sunday's faster and flowing stages more to his liking, which increased his confidence and ability to push, despite heavy overnight rain leaving the roads damp in places. His capture of P4 completed an encouraging showing on his second appearance on the demanding asphalt event following a handful of set-up issues on day one.

Andreas Mikkelsen's bid to make up lost ground following his puncture on Saturday began with a brace of stage wins in his Skoda UK Motorsport Fabia. Stage 12 proved less successful for the Norwegian though when he went off the road and then overshot a junction. But two further stage wins in the afternoon underlined the 22-year-old's huge potential on his way to fifth position.

Finn Toni Gardemeister overcame two clutch failures and a 10-second penalty for a jumped start in his TGS Worldwide Skoda to fend off Craig Breen for sixth position. Both drivers impressed on their first appearances in Zlin with Breen's performance particularly noteworthy. Seeded 20th, the 21-year-old from Ireland was the highest-placed M-Sport Ford Fiesta driver at the finish following an error-free outing.

Guy Wilks, languishing in 12th at the start of the day following his costly puncture on Saturday afternoon, battled back to eighth position in his Peugeot UK 207 after posting several impressive stage times. But his frustrating visit to Czech Republic ended with alternator failure prior to the 13th stage.

Roman Kresta's eagerness to secure maximum Czech championship points after rivals Pavel Valousek and Vaclav Pech both hit trouble on Saturday meant he was happy to settle for eighth. His only major concern during the rally was his puncture on stage five.

Swede PG Andersson survived a spin and a broken propshaft on stage 12 to clinch his first IRC points in his Proton Motorsports' Satria Neo in a highly encouraging ninth place. Estonian teenager Karl Kruuda rounded out the top 10 in his Skoda with Pole Michal Solowow 6.3s behind in 11th in an M-Sport Fiesta.

Skoda Sweden's Patrik Sandell was 12th after upping his pace and confidence on his first visit to the Zlin stages. Irishman Robert Barrable charged a wall on Sunday morning but kept his composure to finish 13th in his privateer Fabia, one place ahead of Proton driver Giandomenico Basso. Skoda Auto Deutschland duo Mark Wallenwein and Matthias Kahle were 19th and 20th on their Zlin debuts.

Bryan Bouffier was in the thick of the battle for a podium finish entering Sunday's opening test only to go off the road two kilometres from the end of the stage. Impact with a boulder ripped two wheels from his Peugeot France 207 and resulted in his instant retirement.

“I was trying, doing my best when I went off, hit a boulder and broke off two wheels,” said the Rallye Monte-Carlo winner. “For sure I'm very disappointed but this is the race and I was trying to keep my position and also fight the guys in front of me.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jan Kopecky - Skoda
Skoda`s Jan Kopecky wins the Barum Czech Rally Zlin [Pic credit: IRC]
Skoda`s Jan Kopecky wins the Barum Czech Rally Zlin [Pic credit: IRC]
Skoda`s Jan Kopecky wins the Barum Czech Rally Zlin [Pic credit: IRC]

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Joe Bloggs - Unregistered

August 29, 2011 1:12 PM

Wonderful performance - again - from Craig Breen. He really is showing tremendous potential and ability, wonderful speed on his first IRC event, third time in the S2000 car this year, think he is a class act and only 21. Wonder in MW has a seat option for him next year, said it before, I think he is World Champion material

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