The sixth round of the FIA European Rally Championship – theBarum Czech Rally – finished today in the town of Zlin.
Jan Kopecky won the race for the ninth time – the Skoda Motorsport team factory driver hones his car driving skills on asphalt roads before his start at the FIA WRC round in Germany next weekend.
Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov after a tyre puncture and the subsequent retirement on Saturday night decided to continue the race on Sunday, albeit without a chance to win. Their main rival in the fight for the European Championship 2019, Pole Lukasz Habaj, crushed his car seriously, when he ran off the track at a high speed. After this incident, the technical delegates did not allow the Polish driver’s car to participate further due to the safety cage damage.
On Sunday Lukyanuk won three special stages and finished the day well. For the Russians, struggling to confirm their European Champion titles, the race situation was not very good – Chris Ingram was able to climb to third place according to the rallyresults and earn 26 points, after the retirement of Nikolay Gryazin. It allowed him to become the leader in the series overall standings and to beat Alexey Lukyanuk by one point.
Alexey Lukyanuk, “The day is generally cool – we drove well. Today was a day of experimentation, trial and error: we made radical bold changes in the car settings; I tried to slow down even later than “late braking” that led to certain difficulties, but, nevertheless, it was very useful. So we’ve found some very good settings, but, unfortunately, there are few asphalt races left in the season. If we came out with such settings at the beginning of the season in the Canaries, then, probably, the balance of forces would be a little bit different, I think. Evolution is on and it’s great! Today we set the best times at the three special stages, I think that we could have won at the fourth, but I caught the curbstone corner – we got a puncture, but carefully finished with no drama. It’s a pity that we missed Chris Ingram forward and today he has scored one point more. But we enjoyed the speed, drive and car; it was a very positive day, it’s good that we decided to go”.
The Czech rally has turned out to be quite challenging this year, although this race was never easy to anyone – 49 crews retiredof 127 that started. The main causes of the accidents were escapes from the track and technical problems with the suspensions that also indirectly drew attention to how courageously drivers went along asphalt roads, “cutting out” all possible corners along the ditches.
Two more rounds are planned before the end of the season – in Cyprus and Hungary – and most likely at the Cyprus event the rally fans will be pleased by the severe struggle of the favorites for the coveted points, since three crews can claim the title mathematically.
The seventh round of the FIA European Rally Championship –Rally Cyprus will be held in a month – from 27 to 29September.