ŠKODA-powered Jan Kopecký is preparing to win his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship for the fifth season running. This is what the 2013 ERC champion had to say ahead of this week’s Barum Czech Rally Zlín.
You have an incredible record on this rally and could make it five wins in a row this year. What would that mean to you?“I don’t care so much about statistics, but for sure I would like to win here again. But this year, the situation is different for me. Last year, I was already Czech champion and could nearly press on regardless, but this year, I need to secure my title by scoring points here. Barum Czech Rally Zlín counts with factor 1.5 for the national championship, so I need to finish with the best possible result avoiding unnecessary risks.”
What factors do you put your success in Zlín down to?“For sure it is my experience on these challenging special stages and especially last year, with the mixed weather conditions and occasional rain, I had a lucky hand with the tyre choice. On top of that, I can drive the ŠKODA Fabia R5 Evo, which is since its homologation in April this year, is so far undefeated.”
The Pindula stage is back this year. Why is this stage so special in your view?“Pindula is really a true iconic stage of Barum Czech Rally Zlín, I love to drive there. This stage features different kind of surfaces, is fast and runs over open areas, has tricky passages through villages and through the forests, the road is always dirty due to the cuts and can be muddy and very slippery in case of rain. At Pindula, you need to know exactly where to cut or not. And mistakes could be punished by the log piles [on the side of the road].”
You are the driver everyone wants to beat inZlín. What pressure does this bring and how do you plan to turn this into a positive?“This doesn’t give me additional pressure, only an extra motivation. In the past, I had really epic battles with Alexey Lukyanuk and I expect the same for this Barum Czech Rally Zlín. On top of that, I have to face the [other] top drivers of the FIA European Rally Championship.”
We are seeing the emergence of some young Czech drivers like Mareš, Cais and Talaš. What do you think of these drivers and their potential?“It’s good to see the next generation of young talented Czech drivers, all three have a great potential. Filip Mareš made this season a huge step forward, he proved to be quick on Tarmac and on gravel too and delivered excellent results in the European Rally Championship and the Czech Rally Championship where he’s proved to be my biggest rival.”