ERC Romania: Jan Kopecky leads as Francois Delecour fights back
Jan Kopecky continues to lead over Francois Delecour at the end of the opening leg of the Sibiu Rally in Romania
Having taken the top spot after recovering from a power steering issue and benefiting from Bryan Bouffier's earlier retirement, Kopecky entered the two night stages with a 23.7-second cushion over his nearest rival.
He initially gained a further 2.3s advantage after the Paltinis stage before Delecour clawed back his deficit with a brilliant performance during the gravel-only Santa stage.
Kopecky had made the decision to run first on all of Friday's events so as not to be impeded by hanging dust clouds from other competitors on the final stage, but a late decision meant drivers would tackle the course at three-minute intervals, thus nullifying any possible advantage.
Delecour, therefore, benefited from Kopecky sweeping the surface and produced a time 10.6s quicker than the factory Skoda driver. The gap between the top two therefore reduced to 15.4s overall.
Rounding off the top three at present is local driver Edwin Keleti, who is currently embroiled in a battle for the final podium position with fellow countryman Dan Girtofan.
Leading positions after SS7: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Jan Kopecky Skoda 1h08m50.6s 2. Francois Delecour Munaretto Peugeot +15.4s 3. Edwin Keleti Colina Mitsubishi +3m31.8s 4. Dan Girtofan Skoda Romania +3m37.8s 5. Toshihiro Arai Stohl Subuaru +3m48.8s 6. Marco Tempestini JM Skoda +4m10.3s 7. David Botka Botka Mitsubishi +5m16.1s 8. Janos Puskadi Eurosol Skoda +5m53.8s 9. Jaroslav Orsak GPD Mitsubishi +6m09.0s 10. Antonin Tlustak GPD Skoda +7m16.7s
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