Kopecký wins in Zlín after closest IRC finish
Loix 2nd, Hanninen 3rd
Jan Kopecký has claimed his first victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge for more than a year after triumphing on a thrilling Barum Czech Rally Zlín.
The ŠKODA Motorsport ace, roared on by thousands of his home fans, began the final stage two seconds in front of fellow Fabia driver Freddy Loix.
Despite Loix’s best efforts – the Belgian was quicker through the closing test – Kopecký was able to hold on to first place by a margin of 1.2s over his Belgian rival, the closest finish in the history of the IRC.
Juho Hänninen finished third in his Fabia to make it a ŠKODA podium lockout but his title lead over Kopecký has been trimmed to three points with four IRC rounds remaining.
“We were quicker than in the first pass and we tried our best without taking big risks because we wanted to come to the finish,” said the ŠKODA Motorsport driver. “It would have been stupid to make a mistake because we have a lot of fans here. It was an exciting finish and I would like to thank all my friends and family.”
Thierry Neuville was the leading Peugeot finisher in fourth following a close fight with ŠKODA UK’s Andreas Mikkelen who finished fifth. Toni Gardemeister took sixth ahead of Irishman Craig Breen.
Roman Kresta was eighth with PG Andersson claiming his first IRC points in ninth in his works PROTON Satria Neo S2000. Estonian teenager Karl Kruuda claimed the final point in 10th.
|1||Kopecký Jan / Starý Petr||Škoda Fabia S2000||2h15m51.7s|
|2||Loix Freddy / Miclotte F.||Škoda Fabia S2000||+1.2s|
|3||Hänninen Juho / Markkula Mikko||Škoda Fabia S2000||+37.4s|
|4||Neuville T. / Gilsoul Nicolas||Peugeot 207 S2000||+1m59.6s|
|5||Mikkelsen Andreas / Floene Ola||Škoda Fabia S2000||+2m05.7s|
|6||Gardemeister T. / Suominen Tapio||Škoda Fabia S2000||+3m43.2s|
|7||Breen Craig / Roberts Gareth||Ford Fiesta S2000||+3m47.4s|
|8||Kresta Roman / Gross Petr||Škoda Fabia S2000||+4m21.5s|
|9||Andersson P. / Axelsson Emil||Proton Satria Neo S2000||+4m41.1s|
|10||Kruuda Karl / Järveoja M.||Škoda Fabia S2000||+4m54.4s|
|11||Sołowow Michal / Baran Maciej||Ford Fiesta S2000||+5m00.7s|
|12||Sandell Patrik / Parmander S.||Škoda Fabia S2000||+5m29.1s|
|13||Barrable Robert / Connolly Damien||Škoda Fabia S2000||+5m51.8s|
|14||Basso G. / Dotta Mitia||Proton Satria Neo S2000||+5m52.8s|
|15||Odložilík R. / Tureček Martin||Škoda Fabia S2000||+7m01.6s|