by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : 01-Sep-2009
It is hard for foreigners to understand the meaning and excitement of the Barum Rally, but anyone who was among those being deafened watching the podium celebrations at the end of the 2009 event had an inkling. This year it wasn't only that this event was the most exciting event of the year in the town; it was far more than that. Here was a Czech driver in a Czech car in the middle of the podium. The winner in question was Jan Kopecky (pronounced 'Kopesky') who told us some of the story. GPWEEK: An unbelievable weekend for you? JAN KOPECKY: For sure this has been the most important victory of my career. It wasn't just the excitement of the occasion, it was the fact that there were so many top drivers on the event as well, with more Super 2000 cars than have ever been seen together before. And of course, a Skoda beat them all! You must have had an idea that you might win? I have been involved with the Fabia S2000 project right from the start. I was the person who drove the rst kilometres in the prototype and have been involved in the testing of the car right up to when it was homologated at the start of the year. I do not think there is any magical reason why the Fabia S2000 is so good; it is the result of the work of everyone in the team. Skoda has been involved in motor sport for so many years, but it is like they really make sure that the experiences of the past are put to good use on this car. And we did a good test with the car before last year's rally, when it was used as a zero car on the actual event, which meant that the car worked well on the rather bumpy roads abound Zlin. But you have little comparative experience of other cars? I have been rallying Skoda cars car nearly all my career since I started in 2001. In 2002 I drove a Corolla, and I have more recently also rallied a Group N Mitsubishi but otherwise it has been Skodas all the way. I have a lot of confidence with these cars, especially after I had a big crash in Slovakia in 2003, when the front right tyre exploded on a flat out left bend and the Octavia WRC was totally destroyed. I still do not really understand what happened! Of course I have a lot of support from my father, who used to be a circuit racing driver and who was European Hill Climb champion as well. What is your programme for the rest of the year? I am currently lying second behind Kris Meeke in the IRC drivers' series but I expect the only other rally we will enter will be Sanremo. I would love the chance to drive on the next IRC event, the Principe de Asturias in Spain, but that won't be possible without outside funding, and we are not expected to go to China or the Rally of Scotland. And nothing at all has been said about plans beyond the end of the year, about WRC or anything else. But I was really happy to see a lot of the top executives of Skoda who came down to watch the Barum Rally. I think they never really realised just what an impact their cars have on the fans. And they took on board that the quarter million spectators who came to Zlin were more that the number who watched the recent Moto GP races in nearby Brno! Any bad moments on the event? There was one scary moment on the rst day when I thought a bend was at out over a crest, and it wasn't. We had a really long slide but happily we got away with it. The most scary thing for me about the whole event was the drive back from the final service park to the podium. It was a very strange feeling. The police had been active all weekend with their radar guns and we had been so careful, but now they giving us an escort back to Zlin. They went mad. They egged us on, over red lights, down the wrong side of the road, past all the traffic. I couldn't keep up with their motorcyclists! They were expecting me to do 170kph in a built up area -- and I was on the rev limiter in top gear! I don't think I will ever forget that weekend ... A Czech driver in a Czech car winning in Czechslovakia -- it made for great excitement, as MARTIN HOLMES found out when he spoke to the Barum Rally winner 5 MINUTES WITH ... Jan Kopecky 18