Kopecky dominant on Barum Rally
|By David Evans||Saturday, August 22nd 2009, 13:43 GMT|
Skoda factory driver Jan Kopecky dominated the first morning of the Barum Rally - round eight of the IRC.
Kopecky fired his Fabia S2000 to four fastest times from five stages this morning to build a 21.4-second advantage on his home event.
Belgian Peugeot driver Freddy Loix is giving chase in his 207 S2000, while Giandomenico Basso is third for Abarth, 13s behind Loix, making it three manufacturers in the top three.
IRC series championship leader Kris Meeke is fourth and on fine form after suffering a puncture on last night's superspecial stage around the streets of Zlin.
Meeke dropped to 33rd position, but raced back through the field to run 11th after this morning's opening test. The British driver moved up another seven places in the next four stages. He is, however, 53s off the charging Kopecky.
Meeke's fellow Peugeot driver Nicolas Voiulloz has retired from the event, after his 207 caught fire.
It wasn't just the defending champion who was struggling - Proton has suffered a nightmare double retirement.
Bryan Bouffier's Satria failed to make the start after engine failure at shakedown, while reigning British Rally Champion Guy Wilks made it through the superspecial stage last night on three cylinders. But the MEM team was unable to rectify what is believed to be a software fault in time for the first Saturday stage.
Behind Meeke, in fifth position, was Juho Hanninen. The Finn was fastest on the superspecial, but has failed to recreate that stage-winning form on the rally proper.
Former Ford WRC driver Roman Kresta is sixth, one second off Hanninen with Russian Evgeny Novikov (Skoda) and recently crowned Junior World Rally Champion Martin Prokop (Peugeot) round out the top eight after SS6.