ENCOURAGING BARUM RALLY ZLIN FOR HONDA
The JAS Motorsport Honda Civic Type R team has taken away a class win and many useful lessons from the Barum Rally Zlin, which is characterised by rough and bumpy asphalt roads, many of which were in very bad condition. Former Junior World Rally Champion Dani Sola was forced to stop on the first day with an engine problem, but Luca Betti continued to the finish where he was classified 22nd overall and third of the two-wheel drive runners.
Car n.11 Dani Sola (E) Oscar Sanchez (E)
Dani and Oscar got off to a good start on Saturday, although they struggled to adapt the set-up of their car to the very bumpy asphalt which was not at all typical of the sealed-surface rallies that the all-new Civic Type R has contested before. They had no major problems through the opening loop of stages on Saturday morning, and they were looking forward to putting the car through its paces in the afternoon after making some adjustments to the suspension settings in service. Unfortunately, they were forced to retire at the end of SS5 because of a rare engine problem.
Car n.20 Luca Betti (I) Giovanni Bernacchini (I)
Following a cautious start to the rally, Luca and Giovanni were affected by some steering issues during the second loop of stages on Saturday, following an earlier impact against the wheel. They were also held back by punctures twice on this rough and rocky rally: at the end of SS3 and also at the end of SS7. On both occasions they were able to continue to the finish of the stage without changing the wheel. During the second day the Italians had a trouble-free run and improved well in order to preserve their class lead and continue the development work on the Honda Civic.
Dani Sola: "This wasn't an easy rally for us, but we were still confident that we could achieve something until we were suddenly hit by the engine problem which is very strange as this is something that has never happened before. It was vital to find a good suspension set-up on the event, as the roads are so complex and narrow that there is no extra space for manoeuvre and so you need a very precise-handling car. We made some good progress and I am sure that this experience will be useful for the future."
Luca Betti: "I am happy for the JAS Motorsport Team to be able to take a class win here in Zlin. It was a difficult rally for us and the punctures on the first day made me lose some time. Today we had no trouble at all and we could move up the classification a bit. We learned a lot here and we are all looking forward to the coming rallies."
Alessandro Mariani, team principal: "We're satisfied to have a podium finish amongst the two-wheel drive runners on a rally that was even more difficult than we expected, with the number of bumps and loose gravel. It's a very good achievement by everybody under demanding circumstances. We are also encouraged by the very real progress that we made from Saturday to Sunday in adapting the car for these types of conditions. This rally has been a very useful chapter in the development process."
Next event: Sanremo Rally (I) round 7/9 IRC September 27-29