Barum rally van Tsjechié

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Barum rally van Tsjechié

Berichtdoor Sportiva-Italia » Za Aug 22, 2009 14:57

Bron: Italiaspeed.com

Barum rally van Tsjechié
22-08-2009

Verslagen van de 39e Brum rally van Tsjechië
Giandomenico Basso en Luca Rossetti gaan met een goed humeur de openingsronde in, na een derde en vierde plaats tijdens de Super Special Stage afgelopen nacht, met helaas wel een seconde achterstand op het Skoda fabrieksteam:


Abarth factory drivers Giandomenico Basso and Luca Rossetti will start today's opening leg of the 39th Barum Czech Rally Zlín in positive mood after setting the third and fourth fastest times during last night's superspecial stage. In a feast of entertainment for fans, the centre of Zlín was turned into the opening competitive stage of the weekend, with crowds ten-deep in places all eager to catch a glimpse of the action as the cars each undertook three laps of the SSS which added up to 9.36 km. The Abarth drivers both posted good times although they were more than a second adrift of the factory Skoda drivers which are expected to dominate their home event.
Fastest of the quartet of private Abarth Grande Punto S2000s was Czech youngster Jaroslav Orsák in a JM Engineering run example, he set the fourteenth quickest time. Orsák's fellow countryman Jaromir Tarabus was seventeenth in his Abarth Grande Punto which benefits this weekend from the latest factory step, one place ahead of Italian Marco Cavigioli, while Pole Grzegorz Grzyb posted the thirty first quickest time.

In the 2WD category Czech driver Jan Šlehofer made a hugely impressive start in his Fiat Punto S1600 posting the twenty fifth quickest time overall through the superspecial stage to mix it in with the hordes of much more powerful four-wheel-drive Super 2000 and GpN cars. Šlehofer comes into the event having won the 2WD class on last year's rally in the Punto S1600 after pulling out a giant performance, finishing nineteenth overall and beating the semi-official Honda Italy run Civic of IRC 2WD Cup title-chasing Alessandro Bettega. Second place in the IRC 2WD Cup standings last night went to the Honda Civic Type R of Marcel Piepers, although he was more than TEN SECONDS in arrears. To the delight of Alfa Romeo fans a bit further back in eighty sixth place overall was the Alfa 147 of Martin Rada who has already impressed this year by successfully finishing the Rallye Monte Carlo in the same car.
The works Skoda Fabia S2000s of Finn Juho Hanninen and local hero Jan Kopecky claimed the top two positions on the opening superspecial stage last night at the start of the 2009 Barum Czech Rally Zlín. Having prepared thoroughly for the event in the last few weeks, the Skoda Motorsport squad reigned supreme on the opening night. Finnish driver Hanninen surprised many to set the overnight pace in his Fabia S2000. His time for the 9.36km stage was 7m 8.5s - a full second clear of his team mate and championship contender; local hero Kopecký.

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Maintaining the formation pattern at the end of the unique Zlín stage, defending IRC champion Nicolas Vouilloz and 2008 Barum Czech Rally Zlín winner Freddy Loix crossed the line in fifth and sixth places respectively in their Peugeot Benelux-entered 207 S2000s. They were followed by two of the celebrated local entries. Three-time Barum Czech Rally Zlín winner Roman Kresta holds seventh place in his Peugeot, ahead of Pavel Valousek's Skoda Fabia at the overnight halt.
For some of the IRC's high-fliers the first stage delivered only disappointment, among them newly-crowned Junior World Rally Champion, Martin Prokop. The Czech driver's BF Goodrich Drivers Team Peugeot clocked only the 13th fastest time of the evening, fully 17s off the pace of Hanninen's leading Skoda and 0.6s off his nearest rival, Citroen WRC driver Evegeny Novikov.
Novikov put his Skoda Fabia S2000 in 12th place overall; a solid start for the young Russian as he and his new co-driver Stephane Prevot get to grips with their relationship. Meanwhile the current IRC points leader Kris Meeke endured a torrid time to end up 33rd fastest through the first stage with more than half a minute already to make up on the leading Skoda of Hanninen.

Ralliart Mitsubishi has almost 30 cars entered this weekend but to see one of its Evo IX machines in ninth place - in the hands of local expert Pech Vaclav - was cause for celebration. Meanwhile the first two-car Proton entry in the IRC has not taken place after Frenchman Bryan Bouffier's engine developed a terminal fault in Shakedown, leaving Englishman Guy Wilks to carry on Proton's rally on his own in 29th place.
Meanwhile although Zlín basked in 29 degrees and bright sunshine as the cars took to the ceremonial start yesterday, weather forecasters are predicting a deluge today. Although sunshine is due to return for tomorrow's final day, the bad weather closed in overnight, and is set to make the already challenging roads all the more treacherous for the competitors. "I'm quite used to wet roads on a rally, coming from Belgium," laughed Loix. "If rain comes then it really will make tyre choice crucial, but other than that it won't affect the way we tackle the rally." Local hero Kopecký was equally upbeat. "The roads are very difficult, especially in the forests," he said. "It is bumpy and slippery, so the rain will just be another factor. I'm just looking forward to a great competition."

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The action continues today with the completion of Leg 1. There will be two runs through each of the Pindula, Zadvefice and Halenkovice stages to take the rally to its halfway stage, with the action starting at 08:53 CET this morning.

39th Barum Czech Rally Zlín, provisional positions after SS1:

1 Hanninen (FIN) - Skoda - 7m 8.5s
2 Kopecky (CZ) - Skoda - +1.0s
3 Basso (I) - Abarth - +2.1s
4 Rossetti (I) - Abarth - +2.4s
5 Vouilloz (F) - Peugeot - +2.9s
6 Loix (B) - Peugeot - +3.2s
7 Kresta (CZ) - Peugeot - +7.4s
8 Valousek (CZ) - Skoda - +9.0s
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Berichtdoor Sportiva-Italia » Di Aug 25, 2009 18:17

Update:

Abarth's droom in duigen na dubbele pech:

Abarth's challenge for honours on the 39th Barum Czech Rally Zlín crumbled in treacherous conditions yesterday afternoon as Giandomenico Basso crashed out while in a podium position. Meanwhile a spin and a puncture as well as wrong tyre choices dropped his factory team mate Luca Rossetti down the order to eighth place, the best of the Abarth runners, going into today's final leg. Basso's crash deals a severe blow to his Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) title aspirations which only came back into the frame thanks to a hard fought win last time out in Madeira. Basso's demise also leaves the way clear for his closest rival in the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC), Michal Solowow, to collect maximum points and elbow the Italian off the top of the standings as the rally counts towards both championships.
Following Friday night's Superspecial (SS1) on the streets of Zlín, Leg One of the Barum Czech Rally Zlín started very early yesterday morning with the 19.1 km SS2 and neither Abarth factory driver was happy. "It’s very bumpy," reported Basso as he posted the fourth quickest time overall. "There are many jumps with various with hard landings. The grass along the roads also causes trouble," added the Italian who dropped down the classification one place to fourth, overhauled by a hard charging Nicolas Vouilloz (Peugeot 207 S2000). Rossetti only managed the ninth best time and he dropped from his overnight fourth, to sixth place. "The stage is difficult especially regarding the brakes," said the reigning ERC champion. The four private Abarth runners were also reporting mixed fortunes. Jaromír Tarabus, who is benefitting from a latest-specification FPT engine as well as factory service support on the event was cautious and looking to make it further than he did last year: "We didn’t finish this stage last year, this year we’re trying to get better time, we'll see what comes next," said the Czech who gained three places overall to climb to fourteenth. Countryman Jaroslav Orsák in a JM Engineering Zlín run Abarth Grande Punto was going the other way, sliding from fourteenth to seventeenth after losing time, "We’ve been enjoying it so far but the car is a bit damaged," the youngster reported.

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Into SS3 and another fifth fastest time for Basso kept him in fourth place while despite only being eleventh quickest Rossetti moved up a place to fifth thanks to a loss of 30 seconds for the factory-entered Skoda Fabia S2000 of Juho Hanninen. Basso's quest for advantage in the ERC points classification was also boosted when title chasing rival Corrado Fontana ripped a wheel off his Peugeot 207 S2000 on the tricky stage and retired. Tarabus remained in fourteenth place despite a flapping tailgate. "I was wondering why we had so much dust in the car, after we got to the finish I realised that the boot was open," he said. Polish driver Grzegorz Grzyb in another JM Engineering Zlín-run Abarth Grande Punto however lost nine places. "We had a puncture," he reported. Meanwhile Marco Cavigioli in his Italian Super 2000 machine was continuing to suffer problems and had an off on the stage. "We got out of the route but we managed to get back," said the reigning IRC 2WD champion who was now down in thirty fifth place.
Basso was fourth fastest again on SS4 but with Vouilloz exiting the rally after his car caught fire following a broken engine mounting which severed the fuel lines, the Italian was promoted up to third. Worryingly the slow starting IRC points leader Kris Meeke (Peugeot 207 S2000) was now on a big charge and he set the fastest time over the 22.47 km stage and was closing in on the Abarth star. "The set up of our car wasn’t good," reported Basso. "We must made some changes." Team mate Rossetti was twelfth quickest on the stage which saw him drop from fifth to sixth place, passed by the former three times winner of this rally Roman Kresta (Peugeot 207 S2000). Tarabus was starting to experience problems with his car though and despite posting fifteenth quickest on SS4 he reported that "before we got to the service park, the starting gear stopped working," and that the crew had be forced to push the car into the service park. Grzyb and Cavigioli both put recent problems behind them to each make up four positions on the overall leaderboard on SS4 which left them standing in twenty fourth and thirty first positions respectively at the halfway point of the opening leg.

SS5 saw the crews making a second pass of the 19.13 km Pindula stage which had kicked off proceedings in the morning as the rally began a second loop of the opening three stages and immediately Rossetti was in trouble, a spin costing him 43.2 seconds to the stage winning Jan Kopecký who was by this point running away with the rally lead in the factory Skoda Fabia. "We made a spin but the car seems to be ok. We don’t know yet. Unfortunately, we lost a lot," reported Rossetti who slid out of the top-ten as a result. Basso though had no problems to report and went second quickest, his fastest time of the rally, and this allowed him to increase the cushion he had over fourth placed Meeke to 23.9 seconds while also chipping half a second off second placed Loix. Despite being landed with a 20 second penalty Tarabus gained a position overall to climb into thirteenth place, but was also reporting increasing problems with his Abarth's engine. "We went through the stage ok but the engine stopped working in the service park and we couldn’t start it, so we got a penalty," said the Czech. "We’re trying not to turn the engine." Also reporting mechanical problems was fellow countryman Orsak. "This stage was ok," said the Czech driver. "We just had problems with the stabiliser, we believe everything will be good from now on." It still didn't stop him moving up a place to sixteenth overall, while also moving up the order were Grzyb and Cavigioli, the Pole breaking into the top twenty for the first time after climbing up five places with the fifteenth fastest time on the stage, while the Italian was up three places into twenty eighth.

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The Abarth crews suffered more problems as the rally went through SS6, running for the first time, which marked the three quarter point of the day's frenetic action and the conclusion of the second two-stage section of the day. And as the Abarth crews heading into service it was Rossetti who had suffered most on the stage. After losing time with a spin on the previous stage Rossetti lost even more time on this test (23.1 seconds to stage winner Kopecký) with a puncture, although with Skoda Fabia driver Pavel Valoušek losing 1 minute and 42 seconds with engine problems on the same stage it actually promoted the Italian one place up the order and squeezed him back into the top-ten. "It’s not good," reported a disappointed Rossetti, we had a puncture and we also made a spin, we needed the help from the spectators to come out of the ditch." Team mate Basso also struggled on the stage and was only sixth fastest, although this added up to a deficit of just 6.2 seconds to the factory Skoda driver making all the pace at the front. "We pushed hard on Pindula [SS5] and our time was ok," said Basso, who is the reigning Italian Rally Champion, "but then we lost our time in SS 6. We lost similar time as last year when this stage was held in the reverse direction," he added. The six Abarth entries on the rally became five as Tarabus' mechanical problems overcame his car and he was forced to retire on the 14.86 km test. None of the Abarth runners were really happy and Grzyb reported that: "after the puncture at Halenkovice we got out of the route twice, which cost us a minute; the car is ok." However he was still able to make up more positions and move up to sixteenth overall, one place behind Orsák who was worried about his car. "I have been working since morning," said the Czech youngster. "We mend something after each stage. At the moment the gear box leaks oil, so I am not really happy." Vladimír Barvík (Mitsubishi Evo IX) then crashed out and the stage was stopped before Cavigioli was able to make a pass; however his notional time was good enough to promote him two places to twenty sixth overall as he continued to chip away at the leaderboard.

Into SS7 and the weather started to turn for the worse, making the unique dirty asphalt of this rally even more tricky. Both Abarth factory drivers struggled through the 17.39 km long test, the second running of the Halenkovic stage, which was made more difficult as the surface had been chewed up when the field had passed through for the first time earlier in the day. Basso and Rossetti posted the ninth and eleventh fastest times respectively which however kept the in third and tenth place overall on the leaderboard. "It started raining and we chose wrong tyres," admitted Rossetti while Basso was more upbeat: "It's very slippery but everything else is ok," said the winner of the last round of the IRC and ERC in Madeira earlier this month. Of the three surviving private Abarths, Orsák was upset with his car: "We have big problems with the gearbox," he reported, although with IRC regular Franz Wittmann (Mitsubishi Evo IX) losing a massive four-and-a-half minutes with a puncture it moved Orsák up one place overall to fourteenth, while Grzyb right behind also cracked the top-fifteen for the first time. Further back Cavigioli made up another two places to twenty fourth.
The penultimate stage of the day, SS8, saw it all go horribly wrong for Basso. With the weather conditions deteriorating and the crews suffering from the wet and dry sections on the stage, the Italian crashed out and in doing so it dealt a huge blow to his IRC title hopes. Only eight cars went through as the stage was cancelled following Basso's crash due to co-driver Mitia Dotta accidentally pressing the GPS emergency switch. Rossetti also struggled and posted the slowest of the eight runners' times that were recorded before his team mate's crash. "The changing conditions cause us trouble," complained Rossetti, echoing the comments of most of the drivers, "the dry and wet roads between the forests."

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Rossetti, now the sole surviving factory Abarth runner, posted a decent sixth fastest time through the last stage of the day (SS9), and with Basso's departure and problems for Václav Pech (Mitsubishi Evo IX) it left the Italian in eighth place at the end of the first leg, albeit 2 minutes 50.9 seconds adrift of the rally leader. Only the Skoda Fabia of Evgeny Novikov one place ahead is in striking distance of the Italian (the gap is 8.9 seconds) so Rossetti will have to drive carefully and hope for misfortune from the faster runners if he is to make his way up the leaderboard on today's final leg. Best placed of the surviving private Abarth trio overnight was Gryzb, the experienced Pole continued to improve all day, and he posted the ninth fastest time on final stage to overhaul JM Engineering Zlín team mate Orsák and grab thirteenth spot overall. "We had big problems with the car, first the stabilisers and then the gearbox," said fourteenth placed Orsák at the end of SS9. "I hope we will start competing tomorrow, but we did our best, we'll see tomorrow," he added. Cavigioli had an unpromising run on the final test of the leg and he lost two places. The Italian will thus start this morning from twenty fifth place overall.
At the front of the rally it was all about Kopecký who took six stage wins from the eight yesterday in a towering performance. The extremely fast and often very rough stages were described by the Skoda Motorsport driver as ‘brutal’ with no quarter being given among the leading contenders. Nevertheless he was able to build his lead through the day despite losing stage victories to Meeke and his team mate Hanninen. Second place at the overnight halt was held by Loix, the Belgian Peugeot driver having run consistently in the top group throughout the day. Loix nevertheless goes into today's day fighting a rearguard action against the Peugeot UK entry of championship leader Meeke.

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Having started the day in thirty third place, Meeke charged up into fourth place over the first three stages of the day. Thereafter he found it difficult to close in on the top three runners despite winning SS4, but as conditions worsened his pace improved and, with Basso's dramatic departure from the event on SS8, he holds third place and is just 8.4 seconds behind Loix. Fourth place went to the second works Skoda of Hanninen, who won Friday night's city centre stage in Zlín and SS6, but struggled to maintain his pace in between these two victories. He nevertheless recovered and today will have to battle to hold off the Peugeot of three-time Kresta. Having initially struggled to acclimatise to his new Peugeot 207 S2000, BF Goodrich Drivers Team entry of Prokop has got up to speed and has climbed up to sixth place at the overnight halt, ahead of fellow WRC regular Novikov. Behind Rossetti in ninth place is the leading Ralliart contender, local man Pech.
In the IRC 2WD Cup local driver Egon Smekal holds the advantage for Honda after fellow Honda competitors, Dutchman Marcel Piepers and Norwegian Martin Knudsen both crashed out. Smekal leads fellow Czech driver Jiri Skoupil by the narrowest of margins in his Fiat Punto S1600, with another Honda belonging to Hungary's Laszlo Vizin third. Czech driver Jan Šlehofer, who won the 2WD class last year, made a hugely impressive start in his Fiat Punto S1600 and was the early category leader, but he dropped out yesterday morning with driveshaft problems between SS2 and SS3. Also of note is a real battling performance from the Alfa 147 of Martin Rada, he chipped his way up the leaderboad all day and was an impressive fifty second overall overnight. Just 72 crews survived the treacherous opening leg.
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Berichtdoor Sportiva-Italia » Di Aug 25, 2009 18:43

Update 24-08-2009

Niet alles Punto's deden het slecht in Tsjechië; in de 2WD klasse behaalde de Tsjech iří Skoupil een overwinning, waarmee hij met zijn Punto S1600 negentiende overall werd en zelfs de fabrieks Honda's achter zich liet:

There was better news yesterday for Fiat in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) 2WD Cup on the 39th Barum Rally Zlín as rapid Czech Jiří Skoupil swatted away a horde of more fancied and bigger 2.0-litre engined Hondas to record a memorable victory for the venerable Fiat Punto S1600. "It’s fantastic to see ten points in the IRC against my name," he said at the finish. "The car was great, we have worked hard on it in the Czech championship and the rally suited both the car and us."
This was the little car's second consecutive 2WD Cup victory of the rally, and its second consecutive in the IRC as title-chasing Manuel Villa won the category last time out in Madeira. "It’s a very hard, very fast rally – like all Czech rallies!" said Skoupil. "To be honest we weren’t so sure how competitive our car would be against the bigger-engined Hondas but we have worked hard on preparing the car for just this type of rally."
With Tomáš Singer alongside, Skoupil unseated overnight leader Egon Smékal's Honda Civic Type R on the first stage of the final morning yesterday (Sunday) and by the end of Leg Two's six stage itinerary he had built up a healthy cushion of 1 minute and 41 seconds over the second placed JAS Engineering-built Honda Civic Type R3 of Hungarian László Vizin. Smékal took the final podium slot in the category and was the second local driver home in the 2WD Cup.

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The Fiat Punto S1600 has embedded itself into rallying folk law following a series of giant-killing performances in the middle of this decade by the blue-and-yellow semi-factory cars piloted by Giandomenico Basso and Paulo Andreucci. Despite its age the Punto S1600, built to the then popular Super 1600 regulations, refuses to go quietly and in the Czech Republic, up against more modern and more developed cars it simply muscled them aside with distain. While Skoupil took the flag as IRC 2WD Cup winner the rally had started on Friday night with another quick Czech driver making the running in one of the Italian machines. Jan Šlehofer had made a hugely impressive start to the 39th Barum Czech Rally Zlín in his Punto S1600 posting the twenty fifth quickest time overall through the superspecial stage to mix it in with the hordes of much more powerful four-wheel-drive Super 2000 and GpN cars. Šlehofer came into the event with a tough reputation having won the 2WD class on last year's rally in the same Punto S1600 after pulling out a titanic performance, finishing nineteenth overall and beating the semi-official Honda Italy run Civic of IRC 2WD Cup title-chasing Alessandro Bettega. However this year his challenge for honours was quickly over when he suffered driveshaft failure between SS2 and SS3 on Saturday morning.

At the flag yesterday IRC 2WD Cup title chasing Denis Millet kept his pace behind the local stars to take fourth place in his unique Peugeot 207 RC, the only contemporary 1.6 turbo rally car in the world today, and move into the lead in the points standings for the first time this year. The title fight this year has come down to a straight fight between Millet and the Punto S1600 of Manuel Villa who skipped this round. The Italian has led the 2WD Cup points standings all year following an impressive victory on the Rallye Monte Carlo in January, his advantage cemented by second place on the SATA Rally Açores. He added a further 10 points to his tally win a win on the Rali Vinho Madeira earlier this month to leave him on 28 points. Five points this weekend for Millet this weekend, who has one won to his name this year, sees the Frenchman taking a narrow advantage in the neck-and-neck title fight as he moves onto 31 points. Three rounds of the 2WD Cup remain to be contested, and Villa, after missing this event, has confirmed his entry for the next two rounds, the Rally Principe de Asturias and the Rallye Sanremo. Neither driver will have to drop any scores this year.
In the 2WD Cup manufacturers' championship Abarth (the Fiat Punto S1600 has been rebranded under the Scorpion brand for the championship) chipped five points off Peugeot's comfortable lead and the Scorpion now has 46 points compared to the 69 points of the French carmaker which has been able to count on strength of numbers all year. However with three rounds remaining Abarth still has a mathematical shot at the title as Peugeot has scored in the maximum number of seven rounds allowed and will now have to drop scores if it is to collect anymore points, while the Italian firm still has two more scoring opportunities available before it too has to select its best results.
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Berichtdoor Sportiva-Italia » Di Aug 25, 2009 18:48

Update:

24-08-2009

Lekke band van Rossetti doet Tsjechische droom voor Abarth vervliegen:

Abarth's quest for a respectable result in the Czech Republic faded on the fourth stage of the second leg of the 39th Barum rally Zlín yesterday after the surviving factory entry of Luca Rossetti lost three minutes with another puncture and the Italian slid back down the leaderboard. The rally was the eighth round of the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC). Following team leader Giandomenico Basso's departure from the rally the day before (although he re-entered the final leg under the SupeRally rule) it was left to Rossetti, who was in the line-up to support his team mate's title aspirations, to salvage pride and although he started the morning in eighth place and climbed as high as sixth, his misfortune saw him slid down the order to finish in tenth.
Basso's retirement deals a severe blow to his IRC title hopes which had loomed back into view with a hard-fought win last time out in Madeira. Second place at the weekend for Kris Meeke keeps him in command of the classification with 42 points while a first win of the year for Jan Kopecký leaves the Czech driver just five points adrift of the Briton. Freddy Loix and Basso, who both retired, remain tied in third place on 27 points, but with just three rounds remaining the Abarth driver's chances of winning the title are become somewhat mathematical. Basso's hopes of winning the FIA European Rally Championship (the rally also counted towards the premier European series) were also dealt a blow and he surrendered the eight point cushion at the top of the standings over Michal Solowow that he enjoyed going into the rally, although his title chances still remain very strong, particularly as the Pole will have to start dropping scores.

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Rossetti had started the second and final leg of the Barum Czech Rally Zlín yesterday in eighth place while the best of the trio of surviving private entries over the start ramp for the last day had been Grzegorz Grzyb, in thirteenth spot overnight. Both of the Abarth drivers who retired on Leg One, factory star Giandomenico Basso and the private pilot Jaromir Tarabus, were back with hastily repaired cars, re-entering under the SupeRally rule. The final day started well for Rossetti and despite a spin on the opening stage (SS10) and setting only the ninth fastest time he jumped two places overall to sixth as Freddy Loix (Peugeot 207 S2000) retired and Evgeny Novikov (Skoda Fabia S2000) lost time after making an off road excursion. Back in the rally again Basso and Tarabus were both looking quick, the factory driver posting the fifth fastest time on the stage while the Czech (who had a latest FPT specification engine under the bonnet for the weekend) was twelfth quickest. In the bitter battle to be the top Abarth privateer Jaroslav Orsák overhauled Grzyb on the stage as he jumped two places from his overnight slot move into twelfth spot overall.
Tenth fastest on SS11, the second stage of the day, kept Rossetti in sixth place overall but the Italian was finding the rally hard-going. "It was a very difficult stage," reported the reigning ERC champion. SS12 was just 8.47 km and Rossetti was thirteenth fastest while Basso, who has posted a poor time on the previous stage, went second quickest. Amongst the privateer Abarths Orsák and Grzyb, both in JM Engineering Zlín-run entries were still locked in battle. The Pole was the quicker of the pair through the stage but the Czech still held the advantage. "Two stages were still wet, the route was slippery and it was hard to stay on the road," said Grzyb. "We had wrong tyres and made a spin. Fortunately, there is no mud on the road, just water. But I’m satisfied with today's leg," he added. Orsák was happy with the progress he was making on the final day: "Today we missed one turn and had to reverse," said the Czech youngster, who was making his debut in one of the Italian Super 2000 machines on the rally. "We chose hard tyres so we’re not ideally stuck to the road but everything is ok," he said. Tarabus was also going quickly, setting the eleventh fastest time on SS12. "Yesterday we had problems with the electronics. Unfortunately, it was difficult to find the defect and it took too long. We decided to go on in terms of SupeRally. In the previous years we retired at the first stages, so we need to get some more kilometres on the track also due to the car," said Tarabus who as well as a new engine step was benefiting from Abarth factory servicing assistance on the rally.

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On SS13, the halfway point of the final day, the final nail was hammered in the Abarth factory's coffin on the rally as Rossetti suffered another puncture and as a result lost 3 minutes and 18 seconds to tip him back down the order into tenth place. The private Abarth contingent went down one member too on the same stage as the hard-charging Grzyb had an accident and retired. Almost unnoticed in amongst all this drama was a strong fifth fastest on the stage for Basso and an impressive ninth quickest for Tarabus. There was no change during the final two stages for Rossetti and he remained in tenth place at the flag. "The result is not very satisfactory but the rally was nice," said the Italian. Orsák crept up the order in the closing stages to finish in a strong eleventh place and he was happy with his first outing in an Abarth Grande Punto S2000. "Apart from the problems we had on Saturday, everything was ok," said the Czech youngster. "Today everything was much better and I believe that next time we’ll do better." Reigning IRC 2WD Cup champion Marco Cavigioli chipped away at the leaderboard all through the final day in his Trico Motor Sport-run Abarth Grande Punto and he climbed up to seventeen spot by the time the rally returned to Zlín for the final time yesterday. Elsewhere Jiří Skoupil won the IRC 2WD Cup in a Fiat Punto S1600, and Alfa Romeo enthusiasts' were hugely cheered by a storming drive into forty second overall by Martin Rada in his Alfa 147.

Meanwhile as the Abarth bid faded Kopecký became the first Czech driver to win the Barum Czech Rally Zlín in a Czech car for eight years, after a masterful performance on round 8 of the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge. The 27-year-old Skoda Motorsport driver delivered the result that tens of thousands of Czech fans have been cheering for with a masterful display, taking the lead from team mate Juho Hanninen on SS2. He held his advantage to the finish by almost exactly one minute, crossing the line ahead of his nearest rival, Peugeot UK driver Meeke, who fought back brilliantly from thirty third place at the end of SS1 to defend his championship lead.
Completing the podium finishers was the second Skoda Motorsport entry of Finland’s Juho Hanninen. The gravel expert claimed victory on the opening night’s spectator stage in Zlín but then had to fight back after dropping time when the rally moved out into the rolling Czech hills. His success denied a podium finish to Czech hero Roman Kresta, a three-time winner of the Barum Czech Rally Zlín, who took fourth place in his privately-entered Peugeot 207 S2000.

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Fifth place fell to 2009 J-WRC champion Martin Prokop, who was awarded the coveted BF Goodrich Drivers Team guest car for the event – the only opportunity that the Czech Republic’s first rally world champion has had to perform in front of his home fans at the top level. Prokop took some time to find the limits of his car on the opening leg, but settled quickly into the front-running pace to take a well-deserved finish. Another potential star of the future from the Czech Republic finished sixth in the form of Pavel Valousek, at the wheel of a privately-entered Skoda. Valousek, last year’s BF Goodrich driver, was another who lost valuable time on the opening stages with a mechanical problem but battled back into the points in a flourishing drive. Hungary’s Janos Toth claimed seventh place in his privately-entered Peugeot, ahead of the Ralliart Evo IX of Vaclav Pech.

As was expected on the rough and slippery asphalt stages, there was heavy attrition among the 107 cars that took the start. As well as Basso crashing out on Sturday, both of the all-new Proton Satria Neo S2000s were eliminated before the start of SS2 with engine problems believed to be the result of a software fault in the engine management system and defending IRC champion Nicolas Vouilloz went out on SS4 when his Peugeot caught fire. Belgian ace Freddy Loix saw his championship chances take a big hit this morning on SS10 when a puncture caused unrepairable damage to his Peugeot.
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