Jan Kopecky’s disappointment at losing out on victory on Barum Czech Rally Zlin on Sunday (29 August) has been eased slightly after he was chosen as the winner of the third Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy, which is presented to the most spectacular driver who best embodies the spirit of the rallying legend on rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Kopecky, who follows in the footsteps of previous winners Bruno Magalhaes and Freddy Loix, was handed the prestigious award by a panel of judges consisting of the IRC’s Motorsport Development Manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Gilbert Roy, the Director of Editorial and Programme Development for Eurosport Events, and Colin’s father Jim McRae, who was in Zlin to make the presentation to Skoda Motorsport driver Kopecky.
Chasing his second win in a row on the demanding asphalt event, Kopecky had led from the start and was 26 seconds clear in front when he crashed into retirement with three stages remaining. Nevertheless his performance, which included setting the fastest time on five of the rain-hit stages, was enough to earn him the prestigious accolade on round nine of the 2010 IRC season.
An emotional Kopecky said: "I have to say it’s a big honour. Colin was an official Skoda driver and [on Rally GB in 2005] I did the whole recce with him. He was a very good guy and it’s really sad what happened to him."
The judges also considered Keith Cronin, who set several top 10 stage times in the emerging PROTON Satria Neo S2000, and Vaclav Pech, who was battling for a top five finish in his showroom-specification Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX before an off dented his hopes. However, Jim McRae said that Kopecky was most deserving of the award because of the pace he displayed in the changeable conditions at the wheel of his Fabia Super 2000.
"I went to a few stages on Saturday and Sunday," said McRae, a five-time winner of the British Rally Championship and a trustee of the Colin McRae Vision charity. "The conditions were very difficult but Jan drove very well and was unlucky not to win. It’s for this reason that he was chosen."
The Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy will be presented on all remaining rounds of the IRC with an end of season trophy, the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Driver of the Year, also being handed over at the IRC’s end of season awards ceremony.
It was conceived following the formation of an official partnership in June between Eurosport Events, the promoter of the IRC, and Colin McRae Vision, a charity established following the death of the 1995 world rally champion, his young son Johnny and two family friends in a helicopter accident in 2007, which aims to improve health and education for children around the world.
Eurosport Events and Colin McRae Vision will work with organisers of selected rounds of the IRC to identify suitable projects and initiatives that help young people*.
The 2010 IRC season continues with Rallye Sanremo, round ten of the series, from 23-25 September when the next Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy will be presented.
*Prior to the start of Barum Czech Rally Zlin, reigning IRC champion Kris Meeke, an ambassador of Colin McRae Vision, presented a cheque for 90,000 CZK (about 3700 Euros) to a local Zlin-based charity, the Children’s Traffic Foundation.

Jan Kopecky (left) receives the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy


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