SS15: Bouffier spins but takes lead as Kopecký hits trouble

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By Olivier Ferret

5 January 2013 - 12:51
SS15: Bouffier spins but takes lead (...)

Bryan Bouffier has shot into the lead of the International Jännerrallye as the battle for victory on the FIA European Rally Championship season-opener took a dramatic twist on stage 15.

Jan Kopecký, in a ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, had been leading by 20s but a front-left puncture approximately seven kilometres from the stage finish means the Czech champion slips to third behind Bouffier and Raimund Baumschlager. Bouffier feared his hopes of winning would be over when he spun his Peugeot 207 but Kopecký’s delay means the Frenchman moves into top spot in Austria for the first time.

With three stages remaining Bouffier’s lead over 10-time Austrian champion Baumschlager is 27.4s. Kopecký, who had led for all but one stage, is 2.3s further back having lost almost one minute as he limped to the end of the run.

“I have to say the drivers [in front] are crazy and cutting like hell everywhere,” said a dejected Kopecký, the winner in Austria 12 months ago. “In the line there was a stone and I hit the stone.”

Bouffier also lost time when he spun three kilometres from the finish of the 13.53 kilometres of Unterweisenbach but his time loss was far less significant than he originally feared thanks to Kopecký’s misfortune.

François Delecour’s bid to wrestle fourth place from Václav Pech suffered another blow after he picked up a front-left puncture. Driving a Kronos Racing Peugeot 207, the Visit Romania-backed star was attempting to take time out of his Czech rival, in a MINI John Cooper Works, when the tyre failed eight kilometres from the stage finish.

As a result, Delecour drops to seventh behind Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Beppo Harrach, who scored his first stage win to cut Kajetanowicz’s advantage in the Production Car Cup to 17.1s.

The action continues with the second pass of Arena Königswiesen, which is about to get underway.

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