The ACCR Czech Rally Team's crew Filip Mareš and Jan Hloušek showed highly promising pace on trappy and very fast Rally Poland. After winning the Friday's qualifying stage, they held a very good third position from the start of the rally. The unfortunate time loss in the second leg moved them off the podium position to the final 4th place, though. Despite that, Filip and Jan claimed a surprising victory in the ERC1 Junior category.
Filip started well in qualifying which he finished in the fastest time and thanks to that he was the first to choose the starting position. The choice of the last possible one - the fifteenth place at the start soon paid off. After the second special stage Mareš - Hloušek crew moved up to third place in the overall classification and until the end of Leg 1 kept behind all fast "European contenders" with the exception of the defending champion Lukyanuk and Finn Huttunen. “The victory in qualifying stage has assured us that we have the pace to fight for the top positions and we entered the race with great determination. We were driving wonderfully from the first special stage and the fact that we were constantly achieving in the first and second passages the stage times among the best three cars was a great encouragement for us,“ commented the events in the first leg the driver from Mlada Boleslav.
The duo Mareš - Hloušek held the excellent third place up to SS 12, in which they lost almost a minute and dropped by one position. “The crew ahead changed the puncture in the special stage and then came back right in front of us. We had been driving in the dust behind them for more than twelve kilometers. A few times we almost had to stop because we could not see anything. The stone was thrown to our windscreen and damaged it. On top of that we made a puncture on something we didn't even have a chance to spot,” explained co-driver Jan Hloušek.
Although Filip and Jan placed one more time 3rd and even second in the last section, it was not enough to eliminate the time loss for a podium position. However, the fourth place in overall standings remains an excellent result thanks to the strong field of drivers and difficulty of the race. More importantly, the crew of ACCR Czech Team dominated the ERC1 Junior category. “I must admit that we were a bit disappointed at the beginning. During the race we proved our growing form, Fabia R5 was working fantastic, just like the Michelin tires. The first podium in the ERC was within reach,” said Filip Mareš and continued: “The disappointment, however, was soon replaced by the joy of the result in Junior category. The victory in both legs and the full points has moved us up to the third place in ERC 1 Junior standings, which is perfect. In addition we have strengthened the leading position of ACCR Czech Team in the ranking of national teams.”
“Qualifying stage was of the highest importance for the Rally Poland, therefore we prepared ourselves very precisely for this initial test. However, none of us expected Filip to win. This is a great progress in his performance. Everything worked hand in hand - a strategy, car setup and Filip's driving. During the entire rally he was achieving consistent stage times, and even though the puncture eventually put him in the fourth place, he finished well beyond expectations. It was obvious that Alexey Lukyanuk was of the main attention for the ERC media followed by Filip with Jan. This is a huge progress compared to last year start. Now we will work even harder for the best possible result in Rome,” Roman Kresta commented on the successful performance of Filip Mareš.
The crew Filip Mareš and Jan Hloušek will attend two more races In the European Championship - Rome and Barum Rally. But first of all, the leading duo of Czech Rally Championship will start at their home event - Rally Bohemia in less than two weeks time.