ŠKODA factory driver Jan Kopecký and navigator Pavel Dresler (CZE/CZE) began their chase for the sixth win in a row during the 2017 season on late Friday with a fastest time at the popular show stage in the streets of Zlín’s city centre. “I would not say I was happy with my driving, it can always be better,” concluded Kopecký although he brought his ŠKODA FABIA R5 an impressive 4.1 seconds faster to the stage finish than his closest rival, Alexey Lukyanuk from Russia. Straight out of the blocks on Saturday morning, Kopecký/Dresler were fully awake and scored another fastest time. The battle between the reigning Czech champions and their rivals from Russia continued throughout the Saturday leg, which was the longest of the rally.
After stage three Lukyanuk took the lead by 0.3 seconds only. But one special stage later Czech Champion Kopecký fought back and conquered the top position again. While the ŠKODA FABIA R5 of Kopecký/Dresler was running reliable like a clockwork, Alexey Lukyanuk got a problem with the power steering of his Ford and lost valuable time. With a fast and faultless drive Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler built up a more or less comfortable lead of 16.6 seconds at the end of the day. But Jan Kopecký emphasized at the overnight halt in Zlín: “Alexey will never give up. I know it from last year. I have to stay focused and concentrated to avoid any mistakes. The stages on Sunday are very tough and rough. Especially the 22 kilometres of Košíky have a lot of gravel and stones on the road. There you can easily get a puncture.”
On the final day of Barum Czech Rally Zlín, Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler achieved fastest times on five of the remaining six stages with their ŠKODA FABIA R5 and reached the finish with a margin of 55.5 seconds over Lukyanuk. “Barum Czech Rally Zlín is clearly the most demanding event of the Czech Rally Championship and one of the best European rallies. I am proud and happy that I managed to win it for the seventh time. Thanks to my co-driver Pavel and the whole ŠKODA team, all the engineers and mechanics for providing me with the quickest and most reliable car. My ŠKODA FABIA R5 was simply perfect”, emphasized Kopecký.
“In the Czech Rally Championship without no doubt Jan and Pavel remain the benchmark,” said ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek. Since Rally Šumava Klatovy 2015 the combination Kopecký/Dresler (CZE/CZE) and ŠKODA FABIA R5 is undefeated and achieved 16 victories in the national series. This year they won each of the up to now six rounds of the Czech Rally Championship (MČR).
Barum Czech Rally Zlín (MČR and ERC) final standings
1. Kopecký/Dresler (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 1:56:15.2 h.
2. Lukyanuk/Arnautov (RUS/RUS), Ford Fiesta R5, +55.5 sec.
3. Kresta/Starý (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +1:22.8 min.
4. Kostka/Kučera (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +1:25.8 min.
5. Kajetanovicz/Baran (POL/POL), Ford Fiesta R5, +2:06.4 min.
6. Griebel/Kopczyk (DEU/DEU), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +2:08.3 min.
Number of the day: 16
Since 2015, when they debuted the brand new ŠKODA FABIA R5 on Rally Šumava Klatovy, Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler have won every Czech Championship Rally they were participating in.
The 2017 calendar of the Czech Rally Championship (MČR)
Valašská Rally; 25/03/–26/03/2017
Rally Šumava Klatovy; 21/04/–22/04/2017
Rally Český Krumlov; 19/05/–20/05/2017
Rally Hustopeče; 16/06/–17/06/2017
Rally Bohemia; 01/07/–02/07/2017
Barum Czech Rally Zlín; 25/08/–27/08/2017
Rally Příbram; 06/10/–08/10/2017