FIA European Rally Championship Round Two

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The 57th Šumava Klatovy Rallye, a round of the Czech Republic Rally Championship was also the 31st running of the Historic Vltava Rallye counting towards the FIA European and Czech Historic Rally Championships.  With nearly an equal number of competitors in each group, (69 historic cars and 78 modern), the two-day historic event run over 440 kilometres in the Pilzen region of the Czech Republic, offered 140kms of special stages, starting on Friday 21 April with three different leaders over the first five stages.

The first win went to the winners of the last two years, Italians ‘Zippo’ and Nicola Arena, but they were out at the finish of the second test when the engine of their Audi Quattro let go.  Next to top the leaderboard were Hungarians Tibor Érdi and István Kerék in a 4×4 Ford Sierra Cosworth RS, ahead of Lucky and Fabrizia Pons, and reigning European Category 4 champs Ville Silvasti and Risto Pietiläinen from Finland in a Lancia 037.  The fight at the front for  Category 4 was on.  

With a number of high-profile retirements, the race for the overall win came down to an Italo/Hungarian duel, with Luigi ‘Lucky’ Battistoli and Pons initially increasing their lead in the first couple of stages.  However, the demanding Mlázov stage proved to be extremely successful for the Hungarian pair on both passes.  The first time they took almost 14 seconds from the southerners to move to the front.  The second pass proved decisive, as Érdi upped the pace even further to increase his lead to almost half a minute.  In the end, the Ford Cosworth suffered some mechanical problems causing it to slow in the final stage, but such was its lead that it held on to first place to finish 25 seconds ahead of Lucky’s Integrale. 

Further back Austrians Wagner and Zauner easily defended their third place (and Category 3 win) in front of the German pair of Jürgen Geist and Nico Otterbach (Opel Manta 400) – who nonetheless finished third in Category 4.

Likewise, Jensen and Pedersen kept ahead of their pursuers to take the Category 2 victory, while Brits Ernie and Karen Grahame continued their Category 1 winning ways from last year, taking their Ford Escort Twin Cam to 11th place overall, well ahead of the Porsche 911 of second in the Category Antonio Parisi and Giuseppe d’Angelo and the BMW of Finns Sverre Norrgård and Anni Villikka.  All in all, it was a truly international podium ceremony.  For the full reports see out June 2023 issue…

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