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ERC Newsletter #32/14
Posted by: newsla on Aug 07, 2014 - 05:45 PM
WRC Rally News 2010
ERC Newsletter #32/14

There will be night fever in the FIA European Rally Championship with the popular after dark superspecial stage through the streets of Barum Czech Rally Zlín’s host city on Friday 29 August.


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Measuring 9.51 kilometres in length, the stage is effectively three laps of a demanding city centre course in Zlín, which crews tackle in reverse order from 21:15hrs local time.

The stage includes sections on cobbled streets, a four-lane road, a flyover and a bus station. It even crosses a railway track at one point, while numerous chicanes add to the challenge. Despite its relatively short distance, several drivers have been caught out in the past meaning it’s a stage to be taken very seriously indeed.

SSS Zlín is the first of 15 stages included on the itinerary for round eight of the 2014 ERC season.

Zoltán Bessenyey will have “an edge” when he continues his bid to make it back-to-back FIA ERC 2WD Championship titles on Barum Czech Rally Zlín from 29-31 August.

The Honda Civic Type R ace moved to the top of the drivers’ standings with a strong third place on auto24 Rally Estonia last month and will take a four-point advantage to Czech Republic where he expects strong opposition from local hero Jan Černý, the ERC 2WD winner in Zlín last season.

“It won’t be easy but the points gained in Estonia certainly provides me with an edge for the next rally that I didn’t have before,” said the Eurosol Racing Team Hungary pilot. “It’s Černý’s home rally so there will be a lot of support and he knows the stages very well. But it’s nice to think that I’ll be going there as the driver to beat. We’re definitely going for the ERC 2WD title now."

Petter Kristiansen will be aiming to capitalise on this previous Barum Czech Rally Zlín knowledge when he returns to the asphalt showcase for round five of the FIA ERC Junior Championship.

Kristiansen tackled the event in 2012 – only his fourth rally outside of Scandinavia – and finished a fine third in class in a ŠKODA Fabia R2. And he’ll be relying on Czech power when he makes his comeback to South Moravia from 29-31 August.

“For sure the last round in Belgium was hard for us but we know Zlín and for sure we will push for a top-three finish,” said the 24-year-old Norwegian star, a double ERC Junior podium finisher. “It will be good for our championship so that’s what we’re aiming for although we know it’s going to be really difficult. The weather is changing a lot and you have this shiny surface, which can be quite tricky. But we had rain and dry weather the last time we were there so at least we are prepared.”

Kristiansen is currently sixth in the ERC Junior standings with 46 points.

Barum Czech Rally Zlín will host a Qualifying Stage for the first time when the FIA European Rally Championship comes calling from 29-31 August.

The Qualifying Stage concept was first trialled in the ERC in 2012 and became mandatory for the 2014 season.

Approximately 15 FIA and ERC Priority Drivers will tackle the 4.44-kilometre test from Pohořelice to Komárov from 09:00hrs-09:25hrs local time on Friday 29 August following two runs of Free Practice from 08:00hrs-08:55hrs. They will tackle the stage in two-minute intervals in a pre-determined order with the start selection ceremony scheduled for 11:00hrs at the Continental Barum s.r.o. building in Otrokovice.

Shakedown will be available for all other competitors from 09:30hrs until 13:00hrs using the same road from Pohořelice to Komárov.

Esapekka Lappi turned expert summariser when the world championship visited his native Finland recently. The FIA European Rally Championship leader joined the commentary team for the live coverage of the event’s final stage and enjoyed the opportunity.

Several drivers competing in Finland had recent ERC experience including auto24 Rally Estonia winner Ott Tänak and Karl Kruuda, who finished sixth in Estonia but took the WRC2 win in Finland. Former European champion Juho Hänninen was also in action and finished sixth overall.

Lappi, meanwhile, is a double winner in this year’s ERC and holds a 40-point lead over ŠKODA Motorsport team-mate Sepp Wiegand. The Finn’s next scheduled ERC appearance is Barum Czech Rally Zlín from 29-31 August.

While a full recovery from the back injury sustained in a heavy landing during Finland’s world championship round last week is his current priority, Craig Breen’s focus is very much on achieving more FIA European Rally Championship success on Barum Czech Rally Zlín later this month.

It’s an event you last tackled in 2011 but how tough is Barum Czech Rally Zlín?
“It’s a very tough event but it’s similar to what I know from back home in Ireland. The roads are bumpy and quite changeable if it rains. The problem is the shiny Tarmac, which can become very slippery and therefore a big challenge.”

What’s the target for the rally?
“To get my championship challenge back on track I need to win. In fact I need to win everything between now and the end of the season. That’s the only way it’s going to work. But it was a similar situation in the WRC Academy in 2011. We came through to win that so it would be a fairy tale ending if we could do it and me and me and my co-driver Scott Martin will certainly be pulling out all the stops.”

You experienced a few mechanical problems on your last ERC outing. Have they been solved?
“There have obviously been a few problems but Peugeot Sport has never stopped working hard trying to fix them. We had a very good test in France recently covering nearly 1000 kilometres between my team-mate Kevin Abbring and me. The test was on Tarmac and it was all good and positive. We used quite a bumpy road so some of what we learned will help us for Zlín. We’ve been unlucky on the last few events but hopefully we can move forward now.”

PaddockTalk Perspective

Also in WRC Rally News 2010:

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