Jan Kopeck? won round seven of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship, Barum Czech Rally Zl?n after a masterful performance in his ?koda Motorsport Fabia R5.

Co-driven by Pavel Dresler, Kopeck?'s blistering pace over the 15 fast and bumpy tarmac stages was the only thing hotter than the weather, which exceeded +30?C as he scorched to a fourth win on the event. Having started the second and final leg with a 35.4s lead, the Czech had a scare with a quick spin on the opening stage but, after that, he eased off, cruising to a 27.3s victory, which also confirmed another Czech national title.

"The whole weekend has been great," Kopeck? said. "I want to thank the whole ?koda Motorsport team, because they have done another great job. The crowd put on a special show for me and I am really happy to win here in front of such a huge amount of fans. I also want to thank [co-driver] Pavel [Dresler] for his co-operation, because he really helped me a lot, and the Fabia R5 has been very strong and reliable. It's been a perfect event for us."

Last year's event winner, V?clav Pech, was equally pleased with second place, having set two fastest stage times in his Mini John Cooper Works S2000.

Poland's Kajetan Kajetanowicz has extended his lead in the ERC drivers' standings after finishing an excellent third in his Pirelli-shod LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5. The first non-Czech driver across the finish line broke the front left wheel rim on SS11 and was lucky to avoid a puncture, and also lost power with a pop-off valve problem on the last two stages. But, despite these minor issues, it was otherwise another stunning performance, and his well deserved podium finish was never in doubt.

Alexey Lukyanuk finished an excellent fourth in his Ford Fiesta R5, even setting fastest time on the final two stages - one of which was Troj?k which, at 23.01kms, was the longest stage of the event - on only his second ever tarmac rally.

Pavel Valou?ek finished fifth in his family-run ?koda after an excellent mistake-free event, while former ERC Junior star Jan ern? was an excellent sixth in a similar Fabia S2000.

Craig Breen dug deep and scored valuable ERC points after a difficult event in his Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16. Three punctures on leg one didn't help his progress, but the Irishman fought back well and managed to snatch seventh place on the final stage - helped by Hermen Kobus spinning his ?koda Fabia R5 on the penultimate test.

Miroslav Jake? dropped out of the top ten when he collected a puncture midway through SS11, but pushed hard in the closing stages to regain ninth in his ex-Bryan Bouffier Citro?n DS3 R5, while Jan Jel?nek rounded off the top ten in his similar ?koda. Anton?n Tlus?k collected a puncture on SS14 on his Tajmac-ZPS Fabia S2000, which dropped him down to twelfth.

Charles Martin's Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16 stopped after a jump on SS11 and retired from eighth position. Austria's Hermann Neubauer had to replace the engine in his Ford Fiesta S2000 after a problem in pre-event testing, but his efforts were unrewarded and after a troubled event he retired on SS14.

GPD Ors?k Rally Sport team-mates Petter Kristiansen, Sepp Wiegand, Martin Hudec all completed the event. The Norwegian driver finishing 15th in his ?koda, despite stomach problems after what he suspects might have been a dodgy leg two lunch, the German 2014 ERC vice-champion came home 19th, after handling problems, which forced him to ease off on the bumps, even down the straights, while the Czech former motocross rider finished 20th on his first tarmac rally in a Fabia S2000, after picking up a rear puncture on the final stage.

D?vid Botka scored a brilliant ERC2 victory, leading from start to finish in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX to win by 1m 02.7s. Co-driven by Peter Szeles, and running on Pirelli tyres for the first time, the rapid Hungarian driver has done his title ambitions no harm at all with maximum points as he finished eleventh overall.

The championship was firmly in Vojtch ?tajf's mind. As soon as he decided he didn't want to risk going off in chasing Botka, the Subaru Czech National Team Impreza WRX STI settled for second and a strong haul of points. Dominykas Butvilas had been destined to complete the top three in his Subaru Poland Rally Team Impreza WRX STI, after losing three minutes with a puncture on SS2.

Emil Bergkvist said that he 'couldn't have wished for a better end to the season' after winning the Michelin-supported ERC Junior category on his first appearance on the Barum Czech Rally Zl?n. The ERC Junior champion was in a class of his own and, despite two punctures on leg one, took his ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Adam R2 to an impressive 2m44.8s victory.

After all the dramas of leg one, the race for the ERC Junior runner-up spot on leg two was between German driver Marijan Griebel and Latvia's Ralfs Sirmacis, and whoever finished ahead of the other would be vice-champion. Griebel led by over a minute going into SS11, but less than halfway through the stage the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior driver had to stop to change a puncture on his Adam R2, losing three minutes. A puncture on the final loop saw Sirmacis finish the event with no spare, but the Sport Racing Technologies Peugeot 208 R2 held his nerve to finish second and secure the runner-up spot in the series.

A transmission problem cost Aleks Zawada time leaving the stage starts, but the hard-charging Adam R2 driver came home a well-deserved third, ahead of a recovering Griebel. ukasz Pieniek survived late overheating problems in his 208 to finish fifth. Both Joachim Wagemans and Krist?f Klausz felt unwell during the event, although the young Belgian and Hungarian drivers battled to the end and gained good experience in their 208, finishing sixth and seventh respectively. Transmission problems were to put Norway's Steve R?kland out, and after gearbox problems in the morning, differential failure on SS13 finally stopped his 208.

Chris Ingram wanted to finish a great twelve months with Peugeot UK on a high, but suffered a very nasty high-speed roll on SS11. Mattias Adielsson was enjoying a good run in his 208, despite the Swede wishing it was -10?C rather and +30?C! He was, somewhat unfortunately, able to have an early cold bath, after crashing out on SS11. Julius Tannert retired his Adam R2 before the final day's opening stage with transmission problems.

Ondej Bisaha set two ERC3 fastest stage times, beating the ERC Junior field - and the Czech driver looked set to finish 23rd overall, but retired his Citro?n DS3 R3T Max on the road section after the final stage. Double Romanian 2WD champion Alex Filip stopped to change a puncture on his Colina Motorsport-run Renault Clio R3 Maxi on SS11, ruining a potentially very good result.

Top ten positions (after 15 stages, 229.21 kilometres)

1. Jan Kopeck? (CZE)/Pavel Dresler (CZE) ?koda Fabia R5 2h12m17.7s
2. V?clav Pech (CZE)/Petr Uhel (CZE) Mini John Cooper Works S2000 +27.3s
3. Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL)/Jarek Baran (POL) Ford Fiesta R5 +39.9s
4. Alexey Lukyanuk (BLR)/Alexey Arnautov (BLR) Ford Fiesta R5 +1m10.8s
5. Pavel Valou?ek (CZE)/Veronika Havelkov? (CZE) ?koda Fabia S2000 +2m30.0s
6. Jan ern? (CZE)/ Petr Cernohorsky (CZE) ?koda Fabia S2000 +4m07.0s
7. Craig Breen (IRL)/Scott Martin (GBR) Peugeot 208 T16 +4m25.0s
8. Hermen Kobus (NLD)/Erik de Wild (NLD) ?koda Fabia R5 +4m31.1s
9. Miroslav Jake? (CZE)/Jaroslav Nov?k (CZE) Citro?n DS3 R5 +5m46.2s
10. Jan Jel?nek (CZE)/Petr Mach (CZE) ?koda Fabia S2000 +6m41.0s

FIA ERC2: D?vid Botka (HUN)/P?ter Szeles (HUN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IXFIA ERC3: Emil Bergkvist (SWE)/Joakim Sj?berg (SWE) Opel Adam R2FIA ERC Junior: Emil Bergkvist (SWE)/Joakim Sj?berg (SWE) Opel Adam R2Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy: Emil Bergkvist (SWE)

 

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