A great result for the Štajf - Ehlová crew against strong European competition
Additional valuable points for the Middle East Rally Championship
A tough competition for all crews with many defects and crashes
The crew of the Racing 21 team, Vojtěch Štajf and Marcela Ehlová, competing in a ŠKODA Fabia R5, are bringing home another quality result from the Cyprus Rally in the form of sixth place overall against very strong European competition. And the crew, competing this time under the team licence of Autoklub České republiky, have collected more valuable points for the series FIA Middle East Rally Championship. The Cyprus Rally has always been a very demanding competition.
The competition of both the European and Middle Eastern championship with thirteen speed trials over a total of 758 km, which combined gravel and to a lesser extent tarmac surfaces, was difficult mainly from the aspect of the choice of correct type of gravel tyres and the balanced set up of the car for both types of surface. The promenade of Larnaca, the Cypriot seaside town, was the venue for Friday's official start, but the 59 crews started the first speed trials on Saturday morning. Gaining experience in the handling of his Fabia R5 on gravel, Vojtěch Štajf started the competition with a cautious rhythm, and along with Marcela Ehlová he was around the bottom of the ten best drivers. The less suitable choice of tyres for this introductory part prevented a better placing in this introductory section.
In the second section of the first stage in the afternoon, the Czech crew suffered a puncture caused by a sharp stone, as had some other crews, and this cost Štajf and Ehlová valuable seconds. In spite of this, after six timed sections on the first day the Czech crew came in the top 10 by gaining the ninth place. Their participation in the Sunday part was noticeably better, in spite of the even more demanding nature of the route, and Štajf and Ehlová even managed the third best time overall on the fourteenth speed trial. Although the course of the second stage was influenced a little by the cancellation of the second drive on the longest trial of the competition "Yeri", there was no lack of drama overall. The final two speed trials of the competition (called the "Golden stages" because of the prize money offered to the winner) resulted in an overall regrouping of the first six drivers. Vojtěch Štajf and Marcela Ehlová took advantage of the opportunity, and thanks to the consistent performance without driving errors they managed to win a valuable sixth place overall in their ŠKODA Fabia R5, which also guaranteed further valuable points for second place in the classification of the Middle East Rally Championship series.
"It was a really tough event with strong European competition, and it was hard for several reasons, primarily the choice of tyres, which we didn't get quite right at the beginning. But then it was better. One big problem for all the drivers was the generally slippery route and dangerous large stones on the track, one of which punctured our tyre, as a result of which we drove the last 9 kilometres of speed trial number 4 with a flat rear tyre. We crossed the finishing line just on the rim, but the decision to change the wheel after the end of the time trial in order to save time was definitely the right one. We didn't damage the car, and we lost nearly a minute on our competitors. If we had changed the wheel on the time trial track, the loss could have been even three times greater. We just had to be careful on the corners and ease up as necessary, but I had learned my lesson from the bad crash at the Rally Šumava. The final part worked out for us, and we concentrated to the greatest extent on a clean drive without contact with the stone walls. Naturally I am really grateful to Marcela, who on her first event on gravel wasn't having an easy time either, and of course I would like to thank the lads in the servicing zone for the great preparation of our car. I am really pleased by the result. We were mainly interested in getting points for the MERC series, which we managed to do, and after two races we have strengthened the second ongoing position in the series, and we are really looking forward to the third part in Lebanon in the first half of July," said Vojtěch Štajf at the finish line in the Cypriot town of Larnaca.
Neither could the navigator Marcela Ehlová conceal her great joy at the ranking in the Cyprus Rally, which was just her third foreign participation in her career and the second this season. "We enjoyed the competition in Cyprus and everything involved in it, the drive with the defect, changing a wheel when it was thirty-five degrees between the individual trials, and we also had several minor "crises". When reading the pacenotes I tried to concentrate on the correct tempo of dictation, which I have to adapt constantly because of the frequently changing rhythm of the drive on the routes here. In any case, my first drive on gravel was a massive experience for me, and I am looking forward to further races together with Vojta at home and abroad," said the navigator at the finish line.
Unofficial results of Cyprus Rally 2018:
1. Galatariotis – Ioannou ŠKODA Fabia R5 1:55:40.2
2. Magalhaes – Magalhaes ŠKODA Fabia R5 + 0:00.6
3. Herczig – Ferencz ŠKODA Fabia R5 + 1:21.4
4. Al-Attiyah – Baumel FORD Fiesta R5 + 2:27.0
5. Avcioglu – Korkmaz ŠKODA Fabia R5 + 3:05.7
6. ŠTAJF – EHLOVÁ ŠKODA Fabia R5 + 3:25.1
The next event of the Racing 21 – Klokočka ŠKODA team will be the Rally Bohemia, which will be held in the Mladá Boleslav area on the dates 29. 6. – 1. 7. 2018.
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