The Norwegian crew was the first to reach the final of the 13-stage rally with a time of 2:32:31.5. It was not until the 8th stage that Andreas Mikkelsen took the lead, after betting on safe driving without taking unnecessary risks. The persistence with the small differences paid off for the crew of the Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo.
Dani Sordo / C. Carrera Hyundai i20 R5 was left without a victory again in 14.8 seconds. Third place went to Spaniards Efren Llarena / Sara Fernandez with a Skoda Fabia Rally 2 Evo with a long gap of 1:06.5 and only 3.2 seconds ahead of the Portuguese crew Ricardo Moura / Antonio Costa Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo, who were even leaders and had a chance on the podium .
Alexey Lukyanuk / Alexey Arnautov The Citroën C3 Rally2 was the main threat to Mikkelsen, arguing for the championship title. But luck had left the Russians even in the first stage, where they burst a tire and lost a minute and 48 seconds. There was a strong ambition to return to the fight, where in CE2 Tronqueira 1 (21.89 km) Alexey Lukyanuk finished first with a lead of 14.5 seconds ahead of second Ricardo Moura despite the unexpected rain on the track.
After a minor accident in the third stage, Lukyanuk still continued to confidently climb to the 8th position.
From the rain on a dusty track at the end of the first day made it so that Lukyanuk slightly lost the rhythm, while Mikkelsen and Sordo, who led had no problems.
The start of Saturday started with two flat tires for Alexey Lukyanuk, which evaporated the ambitions for a good ranking.
The lack of spare tires stopped Lukyanuk from racing. Here is what he said:
“We had two slow punctures,” he said. “We felt one in the middle [but] I was thinking maybe to drive to the end [of the stage]. I understood we would lose 40-50 seconds [but] in the past we had problems after driving on a flat tyre so we decided to change it. At the moment we started to do that the mood was completely down because it was obvious that we cannot fight for any points today so we didn’t push too much to make it fast. We let [Miko] Marczyk go and then we started and in the end of the stage I had a suspicious feeling we had another slow puncture on the rear and in the last corner of the stage it was obvious that we had two. The plan was to go fast and try to be as fast as possible, that’s why we took only one spare.”
The choice of tires proved decisive for the fight in the forehead, Sordo had a fragile lead of only 1.6 seconds.
Mikkelsen and Sordo exchanged headlines during the day, fighting hard.
Three rallies remain until the end of the championship this year, the next being Rally-Serras-de-fafe-e-Felgueiras-2021 again in Portugal.
In the championship Andreas Mikkelsen is leading with 136 points, followed by Efren Llarena (ESP) with 102 points, Miko Marczyk (POL) with 95 points.
Jan Kopecký / Jan Hlousek (Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo) won the Barum Czech Rally Zlin 2021 for the 9th time. After an unexpected competition from the Czech driver Erik Cais / J. Zakova (Czech Republic) (Ford Fiesta R5 MKII), Kopecky finally won again in the biggest Czech rally.
The short sections did not make much difference, but when reaching CE12 Májová (25.43 km) Erik Cais / J. Zakova gained a lead of 13.0 seconds ahead of Kopecky for the stage and led convincingly with 20.4 seconds. Kopecky commented that he made a few mistakes while Andreas Mikkelsen / Jonas Andresson lost 21.0 seconds in the stage, but as Mikkelsen says, the local boys know the ways. However, the goal of Andreas Mikkelsen is the championship, where Kopecky or the other local drivers do not participate.
In the penultimate stage, Kopecky was 20.2 seconds behind Erik Cais. He himself was afraid of the coming rain due to the lack of suitable wet tires. At the same time, Mikkelsen returned the gas and the goal was to finish, not worrying about third place.
In the last final stage, however, in the 25 km long stage, Erik Cais / J. Zakova made a mistake and crashed. So really at the last minute they gave the victory to Kopecký / Jan Hlousek.
Kopecky is already thinking about Rally Zlin 2022, promising to take part.
The winners Kopecký / Jan Hlousek (Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo) have a time of 2: 00: 07.2. In second place are Mikkelsen / Jonas Andresson (Skoda Fabia Rally2), who tactically managed to carry out exactly their plan and topped the standings in the championship, a very decisive moment that puts them as the biggest favorites for the title in the European Rally Championship.
Third place is for Filip Mares / Radovan Bucha (Czech) (Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo) +1: 40.2. The first six places in the general classification are crews with Skoda Fabia cars.
Only 3.8 seconds were left for the Hungarians Norbert Herczig / Ramon Ferencz for a place on the podium.
The next rally in the championship is the Azores Rally on September 16-18.
The expected battle between Jan Kopecký / Jan Hlousek (Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo) and Andreas Mikkelsen / Jonas Andresson (Skoda Fabia Rally2) started from the first speed stage.
However, Vaclav Pech / Petr Uhel (Ford Focus WRC) came as a surprise, coming out on top after the second speed stage. Kopecky managed to gain an 8-second lead over Mikkelsen before the first service park of the day. A small mistake by Vaclav Pech in the fifth stage sent them to 3rd place, and the differences remained extremely small.
Before the second service park on Saturday, the crew of Erik Cais / J. Zakova (Czech Republic) (Ford Fiesta R5 MKII) managed to reach the second place only 0.8 seconds after Jan Kopecký / Jan Hlousek.
Andreas Mikkelsen / Jonas Andresson finished third in 6.9 seconds. The Austrian Simon Wagner / Geralnd Winter (Skoda Fabia Rally 2) are fourth but already with a serious difference of 39.9 seconds.
At the end of the day, however, Erik Cais / J. Zakova (Czech Republic) (Ford Fiesta R5 MKII) took the lead with a time of 1: 13: 41.0. Jan Kopecký / Jan Hlousek (Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo) are second in just 2.1 seconds. Third are Andreas Mikkelsen / Jonas Andresson (Skoda Fabia Rally2) in 16.6 seconds.
In some places along the routes there is mud thrown away and it is wet on some bends. The notes for today's sections are extremely important. As Kopecky requests you have to take risks for the best time.
Extremely happy was the driver after today Erik Cais, who thanked his father for his support.
Fortunately, today the weather was better than expected with mostly dry routes.
On Sunday Barum Czech Rally Zlin 2021 continues with 6 new sections.