A second win for Vouilloz (Peugeot/BFGoodrich)
* Nicolas Vouilloz and Nicolas Klinger claim their second IRC win of the season after their previous success in Turkey
* Spain's Enrique Garcia Ojeda (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) takes command in the Drivers' points table
* Peugeot/BFGoodrich tops the Manufacturers' standings with a 14-point cushion over Abarth/BFGoodrich
Frenchman Nicolas Vouilloz secured his second victory of the year this weekend by winning the drama- filled Barum Rally in the Czech Republic. His Peugeot Spain team-mate Enrique Garcia Ojeda led for much of the event before handing control to Belgium's Freddy Loix (Abarth/BFGoodrich) at the end of Leg 1. The overnight top-two both hit trouble this morning, however, allowing Vouilloz to steal victory. The result sees Enrique Garcia Ojeda take the lead in the Drivers' standings ahead of Andrea Navarra, while Peugeot/BFGoodrich has passed in front of Abarth/BFGoodrich in the Manufacturers' classification. The next round takes competitors to Italy next month for the celebrated Sanremo Rally.
Nicolas Vouilloz probably hadn't been expecting to collect his second success of 2007 this afternoon in the Czech Republic town of Zlin. True, the weekend had got off to the best of starts for the Frenchman who posted the fastest time on Friday evening's super-special through the streets of Zlin in front of a huge crowd. His soft compound BFGoodrich g-Force Profilers then helped him claim his second stage win of the weekend on Saturday morning, but the rest of the event turned out to be much tougher for the Peugeot driver, especially his two attempts at the bumpy Pindula stage (SS3/8). He nonetheless managed to complete the opening leg in third place, but practically half a minute behind the provisional leader Freddy Loix (Abarth/BFGoodrich).
The latter had taken command at the end of the Saturday afternoon thanks to a quick time on SS8 (Halenkovice, 24km). The same stage saw Enrique Garcia Ojeda (Peugeot/BFGoodrich), who had led since the morning, drop around 15 seconds after picking up a slow puncture and the Spaniard was consequently forced to take it easy over the day's final test because he didn't have any more spares. The end of Leg 1 saw Belgium's Freddy Loix top the provisional leaderboard with his privately-entered Abarth Grande Punto, 4.1 seconds ahead of Garcia Ojeda who was nonetheless looking strong in terms of his Drivers' title bid since the series leader Andrea Navarra (Abarth/BFGoodrich) was a lowly 8th overall.
The order of the 2007 Intercontinental Rally Challenge's sixth round changed dramatically soon after action resumed on Sunday morning. The Trojak stage (SS12, 27km), the longest of the event, saw Loix collect a puncture close to the finish. The former WRC driver chose to continue but ended up losing control of his Abarth Grande Punto S2000 in a tight corner and ripping off his front left wheel. Meanwhile, the Peugeot 207 S2000 of Garcia Ojeda suffered a drive-shaft failure on the same test, allowing Nicolas Vouilloz to take the lead which he succeeded in holding until the flag.
In terms of the Drivers' championship, it was an excellent weekend for the Peugeot Spain pair since Garcia Ojeda (2nd this weekend) has moved ahead in the provisional standings, toppling Italy's Andrea Navarra who has led the series since last March. Nicolas Vouilloz follows in third place. In the Manufacturers' standings, Peugeot's one-two in the Czech Republic has taken the team into the lead, 14 points clear of Abarth/BFGoodrich whose best-placed finisher today was Navarra (7th) ahead of fellow Italian Renato Travaglia (8th). Finland's Anton Alen (Abarth BFGoodrich) crashed out of his second asphalt rally on Saturday.
All this drama enabled local star Vaclav Pech (Mitsubishi Lancer) to finish on the podium after warding off the charge of Roman Kresta (Mitsubishi Lancer/BFGoodrich). The former Ford WRC works driver dropped more than two minutes following a puncture on the first morning but fought back from 73rd to 4th place, missing out on a top- three result by 32.5 seconds. Belgium's Bernd Casier (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) overcame an early accident to finish fifth.
Former Barum Rally winner Simon Jean-Joseph (Citroen/BFGoodrich) came second in the two-wheel drive category behind Poland's Grzegorz Grzyb (Suzuki Swift/BFGoodrich) after being delayed by a brake problem on Saturday afternoon, but Dani Sola (Honda Civic R3) failed to finish once again (engine).
Tyres used: g-Force Profiler (customer competition specification)
Dry weather tyres: A01 (soft compound), A10 (hard)
Size: 225/40x18 (S2000, GpN), 200/50x17 (S1600)
The pattern of all these tyres can be 're-cut' as a function of the prevailing weather or surface conditions.
Quotes from the Czech Republic:
Enrique Garcia Ojeda (Peugeot 207 S2000)
"At the beginning of the first leg, I chose hard compound A10 g-Force Profiler tyres which were consistent all the way to the end of SS3 which is when I took the lead. Unfortunately, I then picked up a slow puncture towards the end of the Saturday's penultimate stage and I was forced to drive carefully over the next test because I was only carrying one spare."
Jacques Morelli, BFGoodrich Customer Competition Manager
"Our drivers chiefly chose the hard compound A10 g-Force Profiler, except on Saturday morning when certain drivers opted for the soft compound A01 g-force Profiler. Our tyres performed well - both in terms of grip and consistency - over these very fast stages which were covered by the top drivers at an average of more than 110kph. Like our rivals, we recorded a few punctures resulting from corner-cutting, but that's the risk the drivers run when they do that because the regulations do not permit run-flat systems. The end of the year promises to be very close between Peugeot and Abarth who this weekend lost the advantage they had enjoyed after contesting the Safari Rally at the start of the year."
1, Vouilloz/Klinger (Peugeot 207 S2000), 2h 28m 10.8s. 2, Garcia Ojeda/Barrabes Costa (Peugeot 207 S2000), +16.3s. 3, Pech/Uhel (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), +1m 56.3s. 4, Kresta/Gross (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), +2m 28.8s. 5, Casier/Miclotte (Peugeot 207 S2000), +4m 10.8s. 6, Arazim/Gal (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), +4m 16.9s. 7, Navarra/d'Esposito (Abarth Grande Punto S2000), +4m 47.7s. 8, Travaglia/Granai (Abarth Grande Punto S2000), +5m 44.0s. 9, Grzyb/Hundla (Suzuki Swift S1600), +6m 32.9s. 10, Jean-Joseph/Boy