“I’m happy to be back at the WRC rally in Germany. Our car worked perfectly, today was a lot of fun. However, there was a lot of dirt on the track, so you had to be extremely vigilant at all times while driving,” said Kopecký. The reigning Asia-Pacific champion and current front-runner in the Czech Rally Championship (MČR) was more than convincing on this sunny day. The Czech took the lead on the very first special stage and extended it bit by bit to build up a buffer of more than one minute.
Parts of the track on the first day of the Rally Germany wound through picturesque vineyards with tricky hairpin bends on slippery asphalt. And it was one of these slow bends that proved to be the demise of WRC 2 overall front-runner Esapekka Lappi (FIN). “It was a real blow. I was in second gear on a turn with dirt on the track and slipped off the road completely. I can only apologise to the entire ŠKODA Motorsport team,” said Lappi. The Finn and his co-driver Janne Ferm are eager to return to hunting best times in the ŠKODA Fabia R5 on the nine special stages on Saturday, when the drivers will take on the legendary Panzerplatte.
Lappi celebrated the first two WRC wins for the ŠKODA Fabia R5 on gravel at the two previous rallies in Poland and Finland. And it wasn’t only Jan Kopecký who showed that the new car is also fast on asphalt at the Rally Germany. A total of three customer racing teams were in action in the Fabia R5. Former European champion Armin Kremer (D) staged a duel with Kopecký for first place up until the fourth special stage, when he was unable to continue after suffering technical problems. Reigning WRC 2 champion and Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q) came off the track on the very first special stage and lost a lot of time.
The 22-year-old talented rally driver Fabian Kreim (D) of ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland was in fourth place after the sixth special stage, but then lost ground. More than 250 kilometres of tricky stages await Jan Kopecký and his rivals at the weekend.
Number of the day for the Rally Germany: 8
‘The ŠKODA Fabia R5 was the outstanding car in the WRC 2 field once again on the first day of the Rally Germany. Jan Kopecký won all eight special stages with the new rally car.
Rally Germany – WRC 2 standings
1. Kopecký/Dresler, ŠKODA Fabia R5; 1:23:20.7 hrs
2. Breen/Scott, Peugeot 208 T16 R5+ 1:22.6 min.
3. Camilli/Veillas, Ford Fiesta; + 1:36.9 min.
4. Giordano/Sarreaud, Citroën DS3 S2000; + 2:38.9 min.
5. Suninen/Markkula, Ford Fiesta R5; + 3:49,6 Min.