Pavel Valousek up with the front-runners!
Pavel Valousek completed the opening day of the 2008 Barum Rally Zlin in fifth position with his BFGoodrich Drivers Team Peugeot 207 S2000, just a handful of seconds behind the defending IRC Champion.
Pavel Valousek and his co-driver Zdenek Hruza produced an outstanding run on the first leg of the Barum Rally Zlin today. They succeeded in taking the fight to the leading Intercontinental Rally Challenge campaigners, as well as to the several national champions who have gathered in the Czech Republic for this weekend's IRC round .
Despite having had the opportunity to test the Kronos Racing-run Peugeot 207 S2000 and sample BFGoodrich'srange of tyres earlier this month in Belgium, Pavel Valousek had covered little more than 100 or so kilometres in the car prior to the start of Friday evening's s uper-special in Zlin which brought out thousands of spectators. Pavel managed to secure the sixth best time, just 1.4s adrift of fellow Czech, Roman Kresta, one of the main favourites before the start.
The BFGoodrich-back driver went on to do even better on this morning's awesomePindula stage (SS2) and emerged from the day's opening test in fourth position, just seconds behind Italy'sLuca Rossetti who has already won two IRC rounds this season. Pavel didn't let this early success go to his head, however, and managed to stay focused over the rest of the morning's loop to reach the lunchtime service halt in Otrokovice in sixth place.
A sequence of three sixth-fastest times enabled him to defend his position during the afternoon, before profiting from Luca Rossetti's off on the last stage to claim overnight fifth, approximately 20s behind the outgoing IRC Champion, Enrique Garcia. Pavel is the only Czech driver to figure in the provisional top-ten following the early demises of compatriots Roman Kresta and Vaclav Pech, a situation which also puts him in a more favourable position to challenge for his national title at the end of the season.
Competitors face two more loops of three stages tomorrow, Sunday, before the afternoon's finish ceremony in Zlin. Pavel knows the second leg tests particularly well since they practically pass by his doorstep, so he will be sure to have plenty of spectators out gunning for him on the side of the road.
Pavel Valousek (5th, Peugeot/BFGoodrich):
"I'm very pleased to be in fifth place tonight, but there's still a long way to go. To be honest, we are not really thinking in terms of our position. We just want to profit from each stage to make progress. Today's tests were long and very tricky, but we didn't make any big mistakes. I am looking forward to continuing the fight tomorrow. Apart from a small problem with our intercom every now and again, we had a trouble-free run. Our car and our BFGoodrich performed wonderfully."
Michel Ducher (BFGoodrich Technician):
"Pavel put in an intelligent, well paced run today and handled the tyre factor very well. The sky was a little bit threatening this morning, so he started the loop with two 're-cut' soft compound g-Force Profiler A03 tyres as spares. The weather stayed dry, though, so he didn't need them."
Marc van Dalen (Director, Kronos Racing):
"Pavel is fifth overall and the best-placed Czech driver, so it's been a perfect day for him. The BFGoodrich Drivers Team is a big success here in the Czech Republic."