What a first WRC round means to the Czech Republic

In this exclusive column, eWRC's Tomáš Wanka explains the feeling at home now the WRC is finally coming

Jan Kopecky

This week is a dream come true for me. Not just for me, for thousands and thousands of rally fans from the Czech Republic.

You won’t know me, but I am one of the people who is running eWRC-results.com. I live and work in Pilsen – one hour away from Prague – but I live for this sport. Like so many of the people in Czech Republic, rallying is in our blood. We have a long history for the sport and, of course, a long history for the Škoda Motorsport factory.

When we first understood we had the chance to see the World Rally Championship coming here, it was almost too much to believe. Many of us had always hoped and dreamed we could have our own round, maybe in a rally like Zlín, but this is the best solution.

I don’t think anybody from outside really understands how many fans will be out to watch this rally – there will be so many! I hope not too many…

Like you know, we have the ceremonial start in Prague Castle on Thursday; this is a smart plan because there is some space around this area. To try to do the start in the center of Prague would be too much.

And for the stages on Thursday and Friday, it’s going to be something special.

I know it’s been a big job for the organizers to make this event – but here in Czech Republic it has been a very big job to decide which roads to use. We have some great rallies here, events like Šumava Klatovy – which used to be a winter round of European Rally Championship. There are so many stages, everybody was wanting their stages to be used.

Believe me, you will not be disappointed in the stages in Czech Republic or in Austria or Germany.

This idea for a rally running through three countries is nothing new in this part of the world: the 3-Städte Rallye was using Germany, Austria and Hungary from the 1960s. This was a famous one, won one time by Walter Röhrl.

It’s a nice idea to bring it again, but the logistics are going to be complex.

For the Austrian roads, we are close in Jänner Rallye and everybody understands they are nice stages. That event is running in January and is almost always taking some snow. OK, for this week, we probably don’t have snow coming – although there could be some on the mountains in Austria. But I do remember sometimes having snow and ice on the Bohemia Rally in October and that’s not so far from here.

ERC Janner Rally, Freistadt, Austria 3-5 January 2014

The weather could still be the big part of the question here: the rain can come quickly and it’s hard to predict the weather when the route is so far apart.

As well as the fans, we have many Czech crews competing – the national championship is over, so everybody can enjoy themselves now. It will be a nice atmosphere around.

For me and my team, we will try to be as close to the action as we can. Normally, we go as a team to Sardinia for the rally every year. We take the motorhome and enjoy the sunshine. Like you can imagine, we want to be as close as we can to the action, but this time we will stay on a farm close to the border for all three countries. We are maybe 50 people, we will make a really nice stay for the rally.

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I will get to watch some stages, but not the whole route. We have our job to do and we know the website is going to be incredibly busy this week – the same with DirtFish Live Center, which you can access from our homepage.

Like I said, it’s my dream come true to see Kalle Rovanperä and all the other heroes of the WRC coming to Czech Republic and competing. I should say to see Kalle coming back, he was here some years ago and won Bohemia in a Fabia.

You know what I mean: I am proud and very much looking forward to welcoming everybody. And don’t forget, if you want to know who is winning the rally – have a look on eWRC-results.com.