*KODAs Czech star retakes ERC title lead with second victory of 2013
*Heroic performance earns Kubica Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy
*Success for Aigner, Antxustegi and Stratieva in support categories
Jan Kopecký has made it a hat-trick of wins on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés to move into the lead of the FIA European Rally Championship. His success, at wheel of his Michelin-shod KODA Fabia Super 2000, followed Robert Kubicas dramatic retirement from top spot when he damaged his Citroën DS3 RRC striking a barrier on Saturdays second stage.
In the ERC Production Car Cup there was success for Andreas Aigner, who powered his Yokohama-supported Subaru Impreza R4 STI to first place ahead of Renault Mégane N4 rookie Germain Bonnefis. Gorka Antxustegi took top honours for Suzuki in the ERC 2WD Championship with Ekaterina Stratieva becoming the first driver to win a round of the new ERC Ladies Trophy.
Kubica, who was making his ERC debut, had been leading by more than one minute after going fastest on all eight stages on Friday, when he hit trouble on a right-hand bend approximately five kilometres from the finish of stage 10. His heroic performance, however, earned him the prestigious Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy.
Its a great pleasure for me to win this award, said Kubica. Of course Colin was a great driver and I have been supporting him when I was young. Normally winners are only at the finish but this trophy gives us a bit of satisfaction after this hard end and Colin is always in our hearts. Yesterday was a very positive day for us with a lot of positive experience. Unfortunately today was a negative experience but its part of driving.
Of his accident, Kubica explained: We were in a high-speed downhill section. It was quite big braking into a third-gear corner. Unfortunately when I hit the brakes I lost the rear of the car and I had to reduce the pressure [on the brakes] otherwise I would spin and the road was very narrow. I tried to do the corner but I didnt reduce enough speed and I hit the barrier with the rear-left corner. Then with the front we dived into the barrier. Its a shame but unfortunately this can happen.
Kopecký, meanwhile, who moves back on top of the ERC drivers standings by 18 points following his success on the opening round in Austria, said: I have to say its good for us and KODA. We didnt expect rain and thats why we were losing so much on the first day. But the set-up of this car for the dry conditions is really perfect. And we had no problems. Robert was great but he made a mistake, which can happen in rallying.
Behind Kopecký and co-driver Pavel Dresler, Craig Breen continued his strong start to his career as a member of the Peugeot Rally Academy in an impressive second place alongside navigator Paul Nagle. But there was disappointment for team-mate Jérémi Ancian, who was forced to stop when he ran out of spare tyres after suffering punctures on successive stages this morning.
Local hero Luis Monzón completed the podium in his MINI after he fought back from a puncture on day one in style. Aigner took fourth, Bonnefis finished fifth with Antxustegi completing the top six. Elsewhere, János Puskádi scored his first ERC points of 2013 in seventh with Jean-Mathieu Leandri overcoming a late puncture to claim eighth overall in a 207 S2000.
Robert Consani ensured maximum points for Team Renault Sport Technologies in the FIA Production Car Cup for Teams in ninth overall despite two punctures slowing his progress on the final afternoon. Antonín Tlusťák extended GPD Mit Metal Racing Teams lead of the overall entrants classification in 10th place after a faulty clutch was changed at midday service. Zoltán Bessenyey moves to the top of the FIA ERC 2WD Championship standings after beating Suzuki privateer Hermann Neubauer to second following a close battle.
Watch the action on Eurosport and Eurosport Player
Saturday 23 March
Rally Review: 23:30hrs-00:00hrs (Eurosport)
Sunday 24 March
Rally Review replayed: 08:00hrs-08:30hrs (Eurosport)
Tuesday 26 March
Inside ERC: 00:00hrs-00:30hrs (Eurosport)
All timings are CET and subject to change. Check local listings for further details.
TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 14 stages, 246.34 kilometres)
1 Jan Kopecký (CZE)/Pavel Dresler (CZE) KODA Fabia S2000 2h24m30.9s
2 Craig Breen (IRL)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m52.4s
3 Luis Monzón (ESP)/Jose Carlos Deniz (ESP) MINI John Cooper Works RRC +3m18.9s
4 Andreas Aigner (AUT)/Jürgen Heigl (AUT) Subaru Impreza R4 STI +6m50.8s
5 Germain Bonnefis (FRA)/Olivier Fournier (FRA) Renault Mégane N4 +8m31.0s
6 Gorka Antxustegi (ESP)/Alberto Iglesias (ESP) Suzuki Swift Sport S1600 +9m21.6s
7 János Puskádi (HUN)/Barna Gódor (HUN) KODA Fabia S2000 +10m13.6s
8 Jean-Mathieu Leandri (FRA)/Renaud Jamoul (BEL) Peugeot 207 S2000 +11m05.8s
9 Robert Consani (FRA)/Tibo Gorczyca (FRA) Renault Mégane N4 +11m57.7s
10 Antonín Tlusťák (FRA)/Luká Vyoral (FRA) KODA Fabia S2000 +14m05.2s
ERC Production Car Cup:
Andreas Aigner (AUT)/Jürgen Heigl (AUT) Subaru Impreza R4 STI
ERC 2WD Championship:
Gorka Antxustegi (ESP)/Alberto Iglesias (ESP) Suzuki Swift Sport S1600
ERC Ladies Trophy:
Ekaterina Stratieva (BGR)/Veronica Boni (ITA) Citroën C2 R2
Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy:
Robert Kubica (POL)
Go to www.fiaerc.com for the championship positions following round three of 13.
SS1-9: Robert Kubica
SS10-14: Jan Kopecký
Day one (Friday 22 March, 144.82 kilometres):
SS1: Moya 1 (13.57kms): Overall: Kubica/PC: Aigner/2WD: Vinyes
SS2: Artenara 1 (21.18kms): Kubica/Aigner/Vinyes
SS3: Tejeda 1 (14.31kms): Kubica/Aigner/García Ojeda
SS4: Moya 2 (13.57kms): Kubica/Aigner/Vinyes
SS5: Artenara 2 (21.18kms): Kubica/Aigner/Vinyes
SS6: Tejeda 2 (14.31kms): Kubica/Aigner/García Ojeda
SS7: Agüimes (25.82kms): Kubica/Bonnefis/García Ojeda
SS8: Ingenio (20.88kms): Kubica/Aigner/García Ojeda/
Day two (Saturday 23 March, 101.52 kilometres):
SS9: Maspalomas 1 (13.28kms): Kopecký/Aigner/Antxustegi
SS10: San Bartolomé de Tirajana 1 (21.36kms): Kopecký/Consani/Antxustegi
SS11: Vallesco 1 (16.12kms): Monzón/Bonnefis/Antxustegi
SS12: Maspalomas 2 (13.28kms): Kopecký/Aigner/Antxustegi
SS13: San Bartolomé de Tirajana 2 (21.36kms): Kopecký/Aigner/Antxustegi
SS14: Vallesco 2 (16.12kms): Kopecký/Aigner/Antxustegi
ERC rally wins in 2013: Jan Kopecký 2; Jari Ketomaa 1
ERC stage wins in 2013: Jan Kopecký 12; Jari Ketomaa 8; Robert Kubica 8; Craig Breen 6; Bryan Bouffier 4; Raimund Baumschlager 3; Jan Černý 1; Beppo Harrach 1; Kajetan Kajetanowicz 1; Luis Monzón; Jaroslav Orsák 1; Václav Pech 1.
SATA Rallye Açores, 25-27 April 2013
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