Kopecký takes seventh Rally Zlín win in row

Czech Škoda competitor is in seventh heaven with victory on a chaotic and weather-affected home ERC rally

FIA European Rally Championship 2022 Stop 7 – Barum, Czech Republic

Jan Kopecký has scored a seventh consecutive Barum Rally Zlín victory, as unpredictable heavy rain showers contributed to multiple crashes.

Barum Rally’s most successful driver had assumed the lead on Saturday morning and was already over half a minute up on the chasing pack heading into Sunday.

That gap was very handy to have as unpredictable weather and a tire selection lottery caused the drivers headaches.

Luckily for Kopecký, it was Erik Cais who lost the most. The Ford Fiesta Rally2 driver had started Sunday as Kopecký’s nearest rival but finished the rally down in fifth.

FIA European Rally Championship 2022 Stop 7 - Barum, Czech Republic

Both Filip Mareš and Simon Wagner were faster than Kopecký over the course of the second day but had simply lost too much time on the opening day with mistakes to seriously challenge for the win.

Though Kopecký was unchallenged at the head of the field, brief moments of torrential rain caused plenty of problems, with several cars aquaplaning in a straight line at times.

Bunč, the first stage of the afternoon loop, was the worst of the lot.

Ken Torn had skated on into undergrowth at a tight right-hander – his third off of the rally – which damaged his Ford Fiesta Rally2 and forced him to stop later in the stage.

FIA European Rally Championship 2022 Stop 7 - Barum, Czech Republic

But Alberto Battistolli after him was the greatest concern – he aquaplaned at the end of a long straight, spinning around and sustaining a heavy impact that destroyed the front-end of his Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo.

Both Battistolli and co-driver Simone Scattolin were conscious and talking after their off but it was a heavy impact, with his compatriot Simone Campedelli first on the scene afterwards expressing shock at the size of the crash.

“I’m happy that Alberto and Simone are fine,” said Campedelli. “It was a nightmare. But it’s OK.”

It was the second high-speed crash in two days: Efrén Llarena, who has mathematically secured this year’s ERC title, suffered an injury to his vertebrae on Saturday after going head-first into a tree, only moments after clipping a roadside marker.


That incident triggered a red flag and canceled the stage, so a two-stage showdown was on for second place thereafter between four drivers: Mareš, Wagner, Cais and Dominik Stříteský.

Cais had already fallen from second to fourth on the morning pass of Majak, going 17.1s off the pace after his tire selection of slicks all round backfired.

Mareš, on the other hand, was running a crossed-over set of wets and slicks and vaulted himself from fourth to second, usurping Cais and then Stříteský on successive stages.

But come the afternoon it was Wagner that had struck gold with his tire choice, bolting on a set of full wets and going fastest on the second run of Maják.

Having moved from fifth to third with that stage win, Wagner set his sights on Mareš in second place. But he pushed a little too hard at one left-hander on the powerstage, dropping his Fabia into a ditch.

Wagner kept the throttle in after dropping into said ditch and was able to drive through it, popping back onto the road and missing a pile of logs by mere inches.

That time loss looked to have cost him third place but both Cais and Stříteský suffered worse fates.

Cais picked up a rear-left puncture midway through the final stage and was distraught at the finish line, knowing a podium on his home rally (he was born and raised in host city Zlín) had slipped through his fingers for a second successive year.

FIA European Rally Championship 2022 Stop 7 - Barum, Czech Republic

But he still retained fourth as Stříteský, who is ineligible for ERC points as a Hankook tire runner, made a mistake early on the powerstage and lost nearly 20s.

Norbert Herczig had started Sunday with both Campedelli and Battistolli right behind him in the overall order but gradually pulled away thereafter, finishing a lonely sixth by the finish.

Campedelli picked up seventh after his tooth-and-nail battle with Battistolli was ended by the latter’s crash on Bunč, finishing well clear of Martin László and Albert von Thurn und Taxis in eighth and ninth respectively.

FIA European Rally Championship 2022 Stop 7 - Barum, Czech Republic

Adam Březík had been in podium contention early on Saturday until a turbo pipe came lose and cost him six minutes. On the powerstage he showed what might have been, setting the fastest time on the way to 10th overall.

Laurent Pellier wrapped up the ERC4 Junior title with class victory, his fourth win in five rallies this season in the factory Opel Corsa Rally4.

It marks a resumption of Opel’s dominance in the two-wheel-drive category, having won four titles on the trot between 2015 and 2018 with the previous-generation Adam R2.