Round 8 of the European Rally Championships, the 33rd Barum Rally in the Czech Republic, began at midday today, when Miguel Campos crossed the start podium in Zlin, some 360 km east of the capital Prague. He was the first of over 100 teams, of...
Round 8 of the European Rally Championships, the 33rd Barum Rally in the Czech Republic, began at midday today, when Miguel Campos crossed the start podium in Zlin, some 360 km east of the capital Prague. He was the first of over 100 teams, of which there were 19 World Rally Cars and 10 FIA `B' drivers.
It was the battle at the top of the Championship points table which really captured the imagination of the large crowd of spectators who lined the stages on this first day of the three day rally. Miguel Campos leads with 920 points, equal with Bruno Thiry but ahead because he has won one rally more than the Belgian.
However it was the local Czech hero Ronan Kresta who made the best start on the short 7.14 km opening stage. He set fastest time in 3.46.4 min with Bruno Thiry just behind in 3.47.1 min. Campos was third in 3.48.4min. and then Pech, Kuzaj and Kulig followed within 4 seconds.
Stage 2 was only marginally longer at 7.57 km, but this time it was Campos who took the honours in 3.53.6min, but as Thiry managed 3.54.4, he took the overall lead by half a second. Kulig, Pech and Kuzaj made up the top five.
The last stage before the first service of the day, Stage 3, was 16.69km and this time it was Thiry who set fastest time in 8.33.9 min. Campos was a second behind and Pech 0.9sec after him. So after 3 stages Thiry had an overall lead of 1.5 seconds over Campos, with Pech already 8.9 secs further behind in third place. Kulig, Kuzaj and Kresta filled the next three places.
Evgeny Vasin in the Itera backed Peugeot 206 WRC, wisely chose discretion after his recent poor performances and was in 10th place, 46.9 sec behind the leaders.
Drivers Comments at the first service of the day.
Miguel Campos - Peugeot 206 WRC
"I lost a little time on the first stage as my suspension was to hard, but I changed it and it`s better now. I think I will be able to go faster on the second circuit."
Bruno Thiry - Peugeot 206 WRC
"I had a big moment on Stage 2--.I misunderstood a note which was full in 6th, turned too early and ended up in the ditch. Both Campos and I are going flat out and as we are both new here--its like the blind leading the blind."
Evgeny Vasin -- Peugeot 206 WRC
"It is also the first time I have driven here, although I was here to watch last year. I have taken it easy so far, but tomorrow will be very difficult."
The drivers have now gone out to repeat the circuit of three stages and are expected back at 18.13hrs with Parc Ferme in Zlin at 19.33hrs.