Jan Kopecký set the pace as the FIA European Rally Championship returned to the streets of Zlín tonight, two years after the last Barum Czech Rally Zlín took place.
Following its COVID-enforced cancellation in 2020, SSS Zlín marked the first competitive action of the 50th Barum Czech Rallly Zlín with thousands of fans watching the late-night action.

In ambient temperatures as low as 11 degrees centigrade, Kopecký went quickest in his Škoda Fabia Rally2 in a time of 6m33.4s.

“It was really nice to be back in the city full of fans,” said Kopecký, who is chasing a ninth outright win on his home round of the ERC. “The proper rally stats tomorrow but we tried to lose not so much time so we will see.”

Toksport WRT driver Andreas Mikkelsen was second fastest, 0.2s behind his Czech rival with Simon Wagner completing a Fabia top-three lockout. “I was trying to stay out of trouble, it was okay and a very nice atmosphere,” said Mikkelsen. “It’s good to see so many fans again.”

Miko Marczyk was fourth fastest followed by home hero Erik Cais, who reported losing precious seconds by running a too softer MICHELIN tyre compound on his Yacco ACCR Team Ford Fiesta Rally2.

“That was really nice to start here at midnight, maybe I was too aggressive braking in some corners but I am happy and I am doing my best,” said ORLEN Team’s Marczyk.

Norbert Herczig was sixth quickest despite reporting difficulties engaging stage mode in his Škoda Rally Team Hungaria entry. “It was a chaotic start,” he said.

Tomáš Kostka, Efrén Llarena and Adam Březik and Jari Huttunen rounded out the top 10.

Miroslav Jakeś completed the stage with a damaged left-rear tyre, while a deflated right-rear cover slowed Dominik Stříteskíy on the 9.18-kilometre run as Filip Mareš was handed a 10-second time penalty.

Tibor Érdi Jr set the pace in ERC2, Jean-Baptiste Franceschi was on top in ERC3 and ERC3 Junior, while Ken Torn head the ERC Junior order. Dariusz Poloński was the quickest of the Abarth Rally Cup contenders, while Andrea Mabellini was the driver to beat in the Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT.

The action continues with the 12.73-kilometre Březová stage from 09h31 local time on Saturday.
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The post It’s back! Kopecky fastest as SSS Zlin signals ERC Barum Czech Rally Zlin’s return appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.
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