V?clav Pech and co-driver Petr Uhel have won Barum Czech Rally Zl?n for the second time following four years of Skoda domination on the FIA European Rally Championship qualifier.

Skoda had been unbeaten in Zl?n since 2009 with its Fabia Super 2000 but Pech's success in his Michelin-shod Mini John Cooper Works S2000 breaks that long-running sequence.

Pech, who became Czech champion for a seventh time by winning Saturday's leg, claims his first win in the ERC since its restructuring in 2004 having lost out to Robert Kubica in a final-stage showdown on Austria's J?nnerrallye at the start of the season. He also makes it seven different winners from eight rounds of this year's ERC.

"The competition was really great so we didn't have high hopes for the best positions and we were realistic about our chances of being in the top three," said Pech. "In the beginning we had some engine problems in Slu?ovice. My greatest fear was to get to the service. It was only a small repair we needed to do but we couldn't do it on the road. Thanks to the mishaps of others we were able to get to the top. Even though we had a one-minute advantage we didn't want to make any unnecessary mistakes so we drove carefully to the finish."

Sepp Wiegand beat Tom?? Kostka to the runner-up spot by 0.2s in a thrilling finish. Czech driver Kostka moved in front of his German rival on stage 13 but an engine problem on his Ford Fiesta R5 for the final two tests slowed him down and allowed Wiegand to get back ahead.

Wiegand was unhappy after being unintentionally delayed behind Robert Consani's slowing Peugeot 207 S2000 on stage 14 but his second-place finish means he closes the gap to Skoda team-mate Esapekka Lappi in the race to become European champion. Lappi, who crashed out on Saturday, restarted on leg two and won three stages to land five bonus points for completing the final leg in third place. After eight rounds, Lappi's advantage over Wiegand stands at 19 points.

Jaroslav Ors?k, the leading Pirelli-shod driver, just did enough to keep fellow Czech Jarom?r Tarabus at bay in the battle for what became fourth place when they both moved ahead of Kajetan Kajetanowicz on the final stage. Tarabus was fastest on two stages today and won the leg as he battled back from his delay when he went off the road on stage seven, which cost him a shot at victory. His determination was rewarded with the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy. Kajetanowicz, meanwhile, achieved his aim of a points finish on his first start in the ERC since SATA Rallye A?ores in May in his Lotos Rally Team Fiesta.

Ott T?nak, who won auto24 Rally Estonia last month, finished seventh after power issues slowed his Fiesta. Martin Vlek took eighth with ERC stalwart Anton?n Tlus?k ninth and Bruno Magalh?es completing the top 10 after he battled set-up and gearshift issues on his all-new Peugeot 208T16. Neil Simpson was 11th in his Skoda UK-supported Fabia S2000.

Robert Consani was in the top 10 when a mechanical problem forced his exit on the penultimate stage. Robert Barrable, who restarted on leg two, dropped out on stage 13 with reported suspension issues. Peugeot Rally Academy team-mates Kevin Abbring and Craig Breen both hit trouble on stage four an neither was able to return to the action on Sunday.

While Skoda's winning run might be over, reigning European champion Jan Kopeck? gave the thousands of fans who lined the route a glimpse of the company's ERC future by demonstrating a Fabia Super 2000 equipped with a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine that will form the basis of Skoda's R5 challenger from next season.

In the ERC 2WD Championship, Adam Kobliha claimed another home win by taking the laurels in his Renault Clio R3. He moved in front of Egon Sm?kal on Saturday's opening stage and was never headed thereafter. Top ERC Junior St?phane Lefebvre finished third with category rivals Marijan Griebel and Aleks Zawada next up. Lefebvre's result puts him ahead of Honda's defending champion Zolt?n Bessenyey in the championship standings after the Hungarian was forced to miss the event after injuring ankle ligaments while training for the rally.

The FIA European Rally Championship will be back in action in three weeks with the Cyprus Rally (running from 19-21 September).

Top 10 (after 15 stages, 237.33 kilometres)
1 V?clav Pech (CZE)/Petr Uhel (CZE) MINI John Cooper Works S2000 2h16m28.7s
2 Sepp Wiegand (DEU)/Frank Christian (DEU) ?KODA Fabia S2000 +51.5s
3 Tom?? Kostka (CZE)/Miroslav Hou? (CZE) Ford Fiesta R5 +51.7s
4 Jaroslav Ors?k (CZE)/David ?meidler (CZE) ?KODA Fabia S2000 +1m12.8s
5 Jarom?r Tarabus (CZE)/Daniel Trunk?t (CZE) ?KODA Fabia S2000 +1m13.6s
6 Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL)/Jarosaw Baran (POL) Ford Fiesta R5 +1m14.4s
7 Ott T?nak (EST)/Raigo M?lder (EST) Ford Fiesta R5 +2m41.5s
8 Martin Vlek (CZE)/Richard Lasevi (CZE) ?KODA Fabia S2000 +5m30.2s
9 Anton?n Tlus?k (CZE)/Ladislav Kuera (CZE) ?KODA Fabia S2000 +6m05.8s
10 Bruno Magalh?es (PRT)/Carlos Magalh?es (PRT) Peugeot 208T16 +7m07.3s

FIA ERC Production Car: Martin Bez?k (CZE)/Marek Omelka (CZE) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX FIA ERC 2WD: Adam Kobliha (CZE)/Karel ??ek (CZE) Renault Clio R3 FIA ERC Junior: St?phane Lefebvre (FRA)/Thomas Dubois (FRA) Peugeot 208 R2 ERC Ladies' Trophy: Ekaterina Stratieva (BGR)/Carmen Poenaru (BGR) Citro?n C2R2 Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy: Jarom?r Tarabus (CZE)


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment