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ERC NEWS 

ERC Rally Zlin: Pech leads after Abbring, Lappi and Breen's dramas

Mini driver Vaclav Pech found himself in the Rally Zlin lead after all the usual European Rally Championship frontrunners had near-simultaneous disasters on day one in the Czech Republic.

Works Peugeot man Kevin Abbring led from factory Skoda driver Esapekka Lappi and the second 208 T16 of Craig Breen at the end of the opening loop, but all three then hit trouble on the Trojak stage that followed lunchtime service.

Abbring's car ground to a halt with a wiring loom problem affecting the water pump, while Lappi and Breen both crashed. Although Breen made it to the finish, his impact with a tree had caused terminal damage.

That put Roman Kresta into a brief lead, only for an exhaust manifold problem to stop his Skoda one stage later.

Even after Pech assumed first place, the attrition continued. His main rival Jaromir Tarabus was closing in until sliding off the road on SS7, losing nearly two minutes as spectators helped him rejoin.

Sepp Wiegand picked up second in the remaining factory Skoda, but sustained a puncture on the day's final stage.

That would have cost him second to Tomas Kostka, had the Czech driver not lost his power steering on the same stage, meaning they remained second and third, only now a minute off leader Pech, and just ahead of Kajetan Kajetanowicz.

That puts Wiegand on course to inherit the ERC championship lead, despite not winning a rally all year.

WRC2 championship contender Ott Tanak, who won the previous ERC round in Estonia, is running only ninth. In addition to running DMACK's still-developing asphalt tyres, he has also been hamstrung by a persistent misfire.

VIDEO: BREEN CRASHES OUT OF ZLIN

Leading positions after SS9:                            
                                                        
Pos  Driver                Team/Car             Time/Gap
 1.  Vaclav Pech           Invelt Mini        1h16m35.0s
 2.  Sepp Wiegand          Skoda                  +54.1s
 3.  Tomas Kostka          Rufa Ford            +1m12.7s
 4.  Kajetan Kajetanowicz  M-Sport Poland Ford  +1m25.9s
 5.  Roman Odlozilik       TRT Ford             +1m37.0s
 6.  Robert Consani        Delta Peugeot        +1m43.1s
 7.  Jaroslav Orsak        Orsak Skoda          +1m54.7s
 8.  Jaromir Tarabus       Kresta Skoda         +1m57.7s
 9.  Ott Tanak             CA1 Ford             +2m21.2s
10.  Martin Vicek          Svarmetal Skoda      +2m51.8s
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