ERC Rally Zlin: Mini driver Vaclav Pech wins amid high attrition
Local man Vaclav Pech took a comfortable Rally Zlin in his Mini, taking advantage of numerous issues for the usual European Rally Championship frontrunners
Pech assumed the lead of the rally at the end of SS5 after Kevin Abbring, Craig Breen and ERC points leader Esapekka Lappi all hit trouble on the previous stage, the Czech also benefiting from an exhaust issue that put compatriot Roman Kresta out of contention.
A combination of those problems, as well as Jaromir Tarabus losing two minutes on SS7 after going off the road, gave Pech a lead of 25 seconds - which would grow to 54s by the end of the day after title contender Sepp Wiegand lost time because of a puncture on SS9.
Pech was never threatened thereafter, steadily extending his lead to just over a minute from Wiegand during the Sunday morning loop before easing off on the last few stages to take the win by a final margin of 51.5s.
It was Pech's second Rally Zlin win, the Mini driver having first won it back in 2003, and his first in the ERC.
Wiegand briefly lost second place to Tomas Kostka on SS13, but was able to wrest the position back on the very last stage by just 0.2s, helping the German to further close the points deficit to fellow Skoda driver Lappi from 40 to 19.
Behind Kostka, Jaroslav Orsak and a recovering Tarabus both overhauled Poland's Kajetan Kajetanowicz on the very last stage to make it four Czech drivers in the top five overall.
Roman Odlozilik had been on course for fifth place before suffering an off on the penultimate stage of the rally - costing Lappi the chance to take maximum day two bonus points as the stage had been neutralised when the Finn came through.
WRC2 regular Ott Tanak was a distant seventh, with his developmental DMACK tyres proving a major hindrance to the Estonian's ambitions of mixing it with the pacesetters.
Leading finishers after SS15:Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Vaclav Pech Invelt Mini 2h16m28.7s 2. Sepp Wiegand Skoda +51.5s 3. Tomas Kostka Rufa Ford +51.7s 4. Jaroslav Orsak Orsak Skoda +1m12.8s 5. Jaromir Tarabus Kresta Skoda +1m13.6s 6. Katejan Kajetanowicz M-Sport Poland Ford +1m14.4s 7. Ott Tanak CA1 Ford +2m41.5s 8. Martin Vicek Svarmetal Skoda +5m30.2s 9. Antonin Tlustak GPD Skoda +6m05.8s 10. Bruno Magalhaes Delta Peugeot +7m07.3s
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