After two rounds which proved difficult for the entire team in Belgium (Ypres) and Estonia, the full Peugeot Rally Academy squad will be out for this weekend’s Barum Czech Rally Zlìn. Charles Martin returns in his Peugeot 208 T16 and Diogo Gago will be keen to round off his FIA ERC Junior programme in style, while the sole objective of the team’s spearhead Craig Breen is to notch up his fourth victory of the season.
The Barum Czech Rally Zlìn has been a leading fixture of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) for many years and stands out as an immensely popular sporting event in the Czech Republic. It visits narrow, bumpy stages though the numerous forests of the Zlìn region. After notching up three victories since the beginning of the year on as many different types of surface, the unique aim of Craig Breen and Scott Martin is to finish on top after the weekend’s 230 kilometres of competitive action. “This will be my third Barum Czech Rally Zlìn,” he notes. “It’s a tough event – very fast, but narrow and bumpy. In 2014, we were eliminated quite quickly after an off, so this time I don’t want to make any mistakes in order to make sure I score points after our last two disappointing outings. To achieve that, I know I will be able to count on everyone’s help in the team.”
Also sharing a 208 T16 will be the 2014 208 Rally Cup winners Charles Martin and Thierry Salva who are eager to taste competitive action once again. After his strong FIA ERC debut which bagged fifth place in Ireland, followed by a top-10 finish in the Azores (two events that were new to him), Charles will be counting on the proven competitiveness of the Peugeot 208 T16 on asphalt to target another fine result. “I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the 208 T16 for this famous event,” he says. “I think the experience of the Circuit of Ireland will help us to tackle the Barum Rally’s highly specific stages. I’ve worked hard to prepare for this rally, especially by watching videos. I’m looking for a top-five finish and I will use the pre-rally test organised by the Peugeot Rally Academy to work on the set-up of the 208 T16 which was fast on these roads last year.”
The 2014 208 Rally Cup’s Junior victor Diogo Gago will line up for the sixth and final round of the 2015 FIA ERC Junior in the colours of the Peugeot Rally Academy. After showcasing their speed on all the different types of terrain visited since the start of the season, Diogo Gago and his co-driver Jorge Carvalho will be able to count on the 208 R2 which has emerged as the benchmark car in the Junior ERC series. Indeed, the model accounts for no fewer than 10 of the class’s 14 entries. The Portuguese crew is currently sixth in the Junior standings and is still in the chase for runner-up honours. They will be able to count on the experience of the Peugeot Rally Academy which helped Stéphane Lefebvre to victory on the ‘Barum’ in 2014. “More than anything else, I want to end this magnificent programme in the colours of Peugeot Sport on a high note,” he smiles. “My sights are set on a top-five finish which would allow me to move up the championship order.”
Fellow 208 R2 runners include Latvia’s Ralfs Sirmaics, winner in Estonia and currently second in the provisional Junior classification. He leads two other 208 R2 drivers, namely Norway’s Steve Rokland and the Peugeot UK-backed Chris Ingram. Fellow Briton Jon Armstrong also figures on the list, along with Sweden’s Mattias Adielsson, Belgium’s Joachim Wagemans, Hungarian driver Kristof Klausz, Pole Lukasz Pieniazek and Romanian Florin Tincescu, a sign of the 208 R2’s popularity with young drivers across Europe.
2015 FIA European Rally Championship standings ahead of the Barum Czech Rally Zlìn (Round 8 of 10)
1, Kajetan KAJETANOWICZ (Ford Fiesta R5), 133. 2, CRAIG BREEN / SCOTT MARTIN (PEUGEOT 208 T16), 128. 3, Alexey LUKYANUK (Ford Fiesta R5), 82. 4, Robert CONSANI (Citroën DS3 R5), 55. 5, Siim PLANGI (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10), 43… 17, CHARLES MARTIN / THIERRY SALVA (PEUGEOT 208 T16), 17. Etc.
2015 FIA European Rally Championship Junior standings ahead of the Barum Czech Rally Zlìn (Round 6 of 6)
1, Emil BERGKVIST (Opel Adam R2), 128 points. 2, Ralfs SIRMACIS (PEUGEOT 208 R2), 87. 3, Steve ROKLAND (PEUGEOT 208 R2), 79. 4, Chris INGRAM (PEUGEOT 208 R2), 78. 5, Marijan GRIEBEL (Opel Adam R2), 75. 6, DIOGO GAGO / JORGE CARVALHO (PEUGEOT 208 R2), 60. Etc.
Wednesday and Thursday, August 26-27: Recce
Friday, August 28: Qualifying Stage
Saturday, August 29: Leg 1
Sunday, August 30: Leg 2