Not only racing schedule of a crew Filip Mareš/Jan Hloušek in season 2017, but also 2-year engagement in a project Autoklub Peugeot Rally Talent was brought to an end during final weekend of November on stages of French Rallye du Var. Fresh Czech 2WD champions and winners of Peugeot Total Rally Cup took part in last round of prestigious Peugeot 208 Rally Cup in the southern part of France. Their participation was possible thanks to an invitation of motorsport division of French car maker. It has to be said that Czech Peugeot 208 R2, supported by Czech importer, did not play second fiddle to French opponents on twisty tarmac roads!
Filip and Honza set off to the race consisting of 14 special stages and total distance of 184 km with the highest ambitions. There were another 14 crews taking part in Cup with the same spec of Peugeot 208 R2, while you could find in a starting list an impressive 34 cars of R2 category! On truly technical roads Czech internationals were keeping up with fastest crews of 208 Rally Cup standings. A major loss of time caused puncture in SS8. Nevertheless, young crew managed to regain 5th position overall. ‘Start at Rallye du Var was a great challenge for us in the season finale! Can I wish more as a driver than direct comparison with other drivers using exactly the same racing cars? Prior to the race we had to make some essential changes to our Peugeot in order to comply with French cup regulations, e.g. change of final drive. At the same time, I used Michelin tires for the first time. In my opinion we managed to deal with that well. It’s a pity we did not have any pre-event test. I am pretty sure our performance could have been even better’ Filip expresses his impressions and continues talking: ‘The race itself was magnificent and very demanding. We have not encountered such stages so far, therefore pacenotes making was kind of challenge for us. Moreover, the stages have not been changing much over the recent years so competing with local drivers is really difficult. We were doing quite well during the race, but I regret the puncture. On the other hand, we are pleased with our stage times among top 3, as well as stages when we were able to beat former Peugeot works driver Cédric Robert. We have received many positive reactions on our performance. Even though I hoped for better than 5th place, we finish the season with good feelings.’
Words of recognition for Czech talents have come also directly from representatives of Peugeot Sport, who visited Czech team several times during the event. Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin and Client competition manager Laurent Guyot were amazed about Filip’s pace during his maiden presence on twisty roads of southern France. They were also interested in Filip’s racing future. Coordinator of Peugeot 208 Rally Cup Jean-Marc Vinatier added to the comments of his colleagues: ‘Rallye du Var is the last round of our French Championship, many drivers are present with very good speed and good experience here. Actually, in the 208 Rally Cup classification, the first two drivers are from this area and they definitely know those asphalt roads. Third L. Pellier is the winner of this year 208 Rally cup, who is used to drive and compete for a victory in each rally of the 208 Rally Cup. So Filip was in the middle of expert tarmac drivers and I can mark his performance on the Rallye du Var as a high level. ’
Autoklub Peugeot Rally Talent crew left in France really positive impression. Obviously, such a good results could not miss out Director of Peugeot ČR Marco Venturini: ‘We went to France for lovely and well deserved end of the season, which Filip and Honza have earned for great results. Win at all costs was not our objective. It was, above all, a test of demanding conditions at Rallye du Var, but also to show off our skills to French colleagues and make their life little bit more difficult on their home turf. And we accomplished that successfully. Now, it is time to get some rest, let the engines cool down and to look forward to next season! ’
We would like to thank all sponsors and partners of Autoklub Peugeot Rally Talent, which are Peugeot Sport ČR, Gekon Racing s.r.o., AP Freight, Pirelli, Faster magazine, Garáž.cz, MK-Racing – Performance & Motorsport, eWRC.cz.