Reigning four-time Barum Czech Rally Zlín winner Jan Kopecký (ŠKODA Motorsport) began his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship on top, going fastest on Friday’s Qualifying Stage.
2013 ERC champion Kopecký was made to work hard for fastest time by reigning ERC1 Junior champion Nikolay Gryazin (Sports Racing Technologies), who clocked in only 0.075s behind.
Overall ERC points leader Alexey Lukyanuk survived an off into a ditch during free practice to go third fastest on the Qualifying Stage, 1.118s off second-placed Gryazin.
Filip Mareš (ACCR Czech Rally Team) has taken the first scalp in his ERC1 Junior title battle with Toksport WRT’s Chris Ingram, going fourth quickest despite running wide at one corner that cost him “maybe one second”.
Ingram meanwhile only managed P13 and will be amongst the last drivers to choose their road order position later today. With mud often kicked up from frequent corner cutting, a higher road order is often of benefit in Zlín to avoid the most slippery conditions.
Czech drivers put their specialist knowledge to good use by populating most of the top 10, with Mareš followed by Tomáš Kostka (Kresta Racing) and Václav Pech (EuroOil - Invelt Team) in fifth and sixth, while Jan Černý (Mogul Auto Šidlo ŠKODA Team) and Miroslav Jakeš (Samohýl ŠKODA Team) went eighth and ninth fastest respectively.
Miko Marczyk (ŠKODA Polska Motorsport) once again displayed his prodigious talent, the ERC1 Junior driver going seventh quickest on his first ERC event outside Poland. He had also been third fastest in second free practice.
Gryazin’s ERC overall title-contending Sports Racing Technologies team-mate Łukasz Habaj completed the top 10 times on the Qualifying Stage.
The ceremonial start formally kicks off the rally in Zlín’s city square at 16h00 CET, followed by the opening Zlín Czech Republic superspecial at 21h15 CET.