Jan Kopecky dominated WRC 2 at RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España on Saturday to replace team-mate Pontus Tidemand at the top of the leaderboard.
Kopecký won all but one of the eight asphalt speed tests in the hills above the Costa Daurada, only a puncture preventing the Czech from steam-rollering to a clean sweep of fastest times in his Skoda Fabia R5.
Swede Tidemand led after yesterday’s rain-soaked gravel stages but asphalt expert Kopecký was expected to come into his own when the four-day rally switched to asphalt – and so it proved.
The pair were tied after the opening test and Kopecky was almost half a minute clear before his advantage was slashed to just 5.0sec after he drove 7km on a slow puncture. He stretched his lead to 14.3sec with four stages remaining tomorrow.
The consistent Tidemand was second fastest in seven of the eight stages as the Skoda Motorsport duo proved untouchable. Third-placed Frigyes Turan was more than 12 minutes behind with Dutchman Jim Van Den Heuvel another nine minutes adrift in a Mitsubishi Lancer.
Teemu Suninen, the man with the best chance of depriving the absent Elfyn Evans of the title, recovered to fifth after retiring his Fabia R5 yesterday with a broken turbo. Engine issues hampered the Finn again, but he remains on course for valuable points. Ole Christian Veiby was sixth.
Julien Maurin plunged from third to 12th after stopping several times while Marius Aasen yielded third when he rolled his Ford Fiesta R5. An accident also accounted for Bernhard Ten Brinke, who had climbed to fourth.