ERC Romania: Jan Kopecky wraps up dominant victory
Jan Kopecky cruised to his fourth European Rally Championship win of the season by dominating the final day of the Sibiu Rally in Romania
The event had become a straight fight between Kopecky and Francois Delecour after Bryan Bouffier retired from the lead during the second pass of the treacherous Crint stage on Friday afternoon.
The 27-kilometre test broke both shock absorbers on the Frenchman's Delta Peugeot and it also threatened to curtail Delecour's rally when his engine overheated, causing a water leak and a loss of over half a minute.
Kopecky moved to the head of the field as a result of those incidents and finished the opening leg 15.4s in front.
The current championship leader kicked off the final seven stages on Saturday by extending his lead to 1m06.7s at the end of the opening loop after Delecour conceded that he would settle for second place.
The rally veteran held true to his word and lost 3.4s and a huge 1m36.6s to Kopecky through the second attempts of the Sadu and Gatu Berbercului stages respectively.
The 20-kilometre Santa Max test was not run competitively after Kopecky, Delecour and Toshi Arai raised their safety concerns with the rally organisers.
Kopecky concluded his commanding weekend by notching up his 10th stage victory on the 3.5-kilometre superspecial at the end of the day to win by 3m12.8s.
Who would finish third was less predictable as a local hero Edwin Keleti and Arai fought over the final podium position.
It was the Japanese driver who prevailed - on his first international outing of the season - after overcoming a stomach bug on Saturday morning and reeling off a succession of consistently quick stage times.
Keleti failed to finish the repeat of Gatu Berbercului and retired from fourth with a suspected suspension issue.
Leading finishers after SS14: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jan Kopecky Skoda 2h18m07.8s 2. Francois Delecour Munaretto Peugeot +3m12.8s 3. Toshihiro Arai Stohl Subuaru +6m03.6s 4. Marco Tempestini JM Skoda +7m33.1s 5. David Botka Botka Rally Mitsubishi +7m48.3s 6. Valentin Porcisteanu Colina Mitsubishi +8m39.8s 7. Jaroslav Orsak GPD Mitsubishi +9m15.6s 8. Janos Puskadi Eurosol Skoda +9m59.4s 9. Antonin Tlustak GPD Skoda +11m39.1s 10. Sebastian Barbu Citroen +18m33.0s
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