As usual, a legendary Barum Czech Rally Zlín offered a dramatic spectacle and close fights.
The final event of Czech rally championship and a pinnacle of the European Rally Championship took place last weekend. The crew Mareš - Hloušek travelled to Zlín with a clear goal. To defeat their most serious rivals in the European Rally Championship junior category - Ingram and Whitthock and win the title. Filip Mareš had not claimed the win until the final stage, where he managed to outrun the British driver and reached out to the most valuable trophy of his career with a marginal lead of 0.3 seconds!
ACCR Czech Rally Team crew with start number 5 begun the challenging race with 7th place but after the third special stage they moved up to the fifth position. After the penultimate test of Saturday’s leg they even held the second place overall. After all, Filip and Jan sit overnight on the third place in the overall classification. That was an excellent result indeed, however Chris Ingram was yet almost 4 seconds ahead of them. “The Saturday’s leg did not go according to our expectations. We made decent times in Semetín stage, but it was not always the case with the remaining stages. We literally fell asleep on the first passage of SS Březová . But we are still in close contact and we believe that the constitution of Sunday's stages will give us more chances to attack” a co-driver Jan Hloušek believed in the middle of the race.
The three stages of the final leg were Maják, Pindula and Kašava. Each of them were supposed to be passed twice. The thrilling battle between the Czech crew and the young Britons continued also on Sunday. Mareš was faster in SS Maják and Kašava, on the other hand Ingram was quicker in Pindula stage. In SS13 Filip and Jan moved ahead of Ingram and Whittock to change the ranking again in favor of the British duo in the penultimate stage. At the start of the final, 25 km long Kašava stage, both crews were only 0.6 seconds apart! Mareš and Hloušek passed a finish line photocell with 0.9 seconds faster time than their rivals and it was clear that the title of European Junior Champions can celebrate ACCR Czech Talent Team’s crew Filip Mareš - Jan Hloušek!
In addition to the valuable trophy, they also received a financial bonus from the championship promoter to contest the season-closing ERC events. The difference between happiness and sadness was only 0.3 seconds! “It was probably a race of the lifetime for both of us. There was a lot at stake and in the fight for the ERC1 Junior title we gave absolutely everything into it. During Barum Rally, the time gap between us was no more than 7.6 seconds and the difference between success and failure was minimal at the end of the day. We have won and we are really happy for it” Filip Mareš did not hide his enthusiasm and went on: “Chris and Ross showed a tremendous performance and forced us to do our best. Guys, thank you for this fight and wish you all the best in future races!”
“Honza Hloušek has led me through all the races flawlessly and he deserves my highest praise and thankfulness. None of this would be possible without our partners, lead by Autoklub of the Czech Republic and said driver from Semčice and he adds: silver position “ The second place of Mareš and Hloušek is not only about success in the European Championship, but also confirmation of the position of the vice-champions in Autoklub Czech Rally Championship 2019. “Before the season the podium placement in Czech championship was the team’s goal. Thus, I believe we met these expectations with strong background of Roman Kresta’s team. It is only because of this we can enjoy the hilarious result from Barum Rally with our great fans!”
“Barum Rally comments Roman Kresta about Filip's success.
truly notable achievement for Filip and Jan. We did not even expect such a result at the beginning of the season. This season was clearly focused on the results, but we aimed mainly to our local championship. Since Filip did not take part in the first two European events, the thoughts about successful campaign came to our minds later on. Filip and Jan managed to make good use of last year's experience. They followed the plan and managed to use all our advice to their advantage. I am very pleased they cope with demanding and complicated stages of Barum Rally. This also applies to Chris Ingram, though. Both drove great and extremely balanced, as evidenced by the final time gap at the finish. Congratulations guys and I sincerely thank the whole team and everybody involved for the hard work during the entire season” is
“This year's Barum Rally was extremely exciting to the very end. I think few people remember that the title of European Junior Champion should be decided by the tenths of a second in the last special stage. It has been a drama that all fans had to enjoy immensely. Filip and Jan won the title and I congratulate them on this great achievement” said the President of Autoklub of the Czech Republic - JUDr. Jan Šťovíček.
The demanding BARUM CZECH RALLY ZLÍN was won by Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler for the eighth time, Filip Mareš and Jan Hloušek finished second and Chris Ingram with Ross Whittock won the bronze.