After the Saturday leg Juho Hänninen is in the lead, Škoda is ruling the rally
The crew of Juho Hänninen, Mikko Markkula from Finland with a Škoda Fabia S2000 has won the first leg of the 42nd Barum Czech Rally Zlín 2012. They were followed by their team mates Jan Kopecký, Pavel Dresler from the Czech Republic with a loss of 11.4 seconds and Andreas Mikkelsen, Ola Floene from Norway, all with Škoda Fabia S2000. The Škoda cars are ruling the rally as there are eight of them in top ten. Thanks to bonus points for standings in the leg Jan Kopecký has become the Czech champion in advance.
After the opening morning stage the total standings were led by Hänninen. After the fourth stage he was taken over by Mikkelsen who kept the lead until the seventh stage. After that Hänninen took the first place back.
The rally is influenced by the night rains. The choice of the right tyres for the first stages was a lottery. Some crews gained points, some lost seconds. “We didn’t choose the right tyres. We used the slicks but we may have had a better time with the dry tyres,“ said Jan Kopecký after the first passage through SS Pindula. When he got through the same stage for the second time, he had better experience. “We’ve chosen the dry tyres and it worked out but it seems Mikkelsen has better tyres.“
Mikkelsen profited from the correct choice of tyres and he has been praising the setup of his car. However, he submitted to the pressure by Juho Hänninen and after the seventh stage he as outrun by Jan Kopecký too.
Tomáš Kostka has been doing well since the Friday city stage. He is always among top five. He is losing nearly fifty seconds to the leader of the standings but Mikkelsen on the third place is only eighteen seconds ahead him. “I cut it a lot,“ said Kostka after the third stage. After the following stage he claimed he was enjoying the stage.
The only car disturbing the hegemony of Škoda is Mini John Cooper Works S2000 driven by Václav Pech. Pech is one of the two FIA priority drivers and is on the sixth place after Saturday. He could have done much better if it were not for the technical difficulties; he was slowed down by a differential failure in the morning but caught up after the repairs.
Jarkko Nikara with a Subaru Impreza STi R4 has managed to fight his way from a nearly fiftieth place to the fourteenth place. However, he had an accident at the secenth special stage and his car burst into flames. The best crew with a non-S2000 car is Andreas Aigner with a Subaru Impreza STi R4. Pavel Valoušek had to retire due to problems with the engine after the Friday stage.
Three drivers shared victories at eight Saturday stages. Andreas Mikkelsen and Juho Hänninen won three each. Jan Kopecký won two stages. The opening leg was 403 km long and contained 9 special stages in total length of 139 km. The Barum Rally will finish on Sunday, 2nd September. The crews will go through 185 km and 6 stages in total length of 112 km. The winner will arrive at the finish ramp in front of the Big Cinema in Zlín at 14:30.
Unofficial standings after leg 1 (9 special stages):
1. Hänninen, Markkula (FIN, Škoda Fabia S2000) 1:22:57.1 hour
2. Kopecký, Dresler (CZE, Škoda Fabia S2000) + 11.4 s
3. Mikkelsen, Floene (NOR, Škoda Fabia S2000) + 29.4 s
4. T. Kostka, Houšť (CZE, Škoda Fabia S2000) + 48.1 s
5. Kresta, Gross (CZE, Škoda Fabia S2000) + 56.7 s
6. Pech, Uhel (CZE, Mini John Cooper Works S2000) + 1:22.8 min
7. Barrable, Loudon (IRL/GBR, Škoda Fabia S2000) + 3:01.9 min
8. Kruuda, Järveoja (EST, Škoda Fabia S2000) + 3:05.1 min
9. Tarabus, Trunkát (CZE, Škoda Fabia S2000) + 3:26.2 min
10. Aigner, Minorová (AUT, Subaru Impreza STi R4) + 2:20.0 min
1. Consani, Klinger (UKR/FRA, Renault Megane RS) 1:30:08.2 hour