While Loix, the 2010 winner, won’t be in action this season, Kopecký will still face strong opposition from fellow ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 drivers Juho Hänninen and Andreas Mikkelsen. Neither driver has won the event before while Mikkelsen, who drives for ŠKODA’s UK importer, has yet to win an IRC round on asphalt. Kopecký, meanwhile, can claim his second Czech title with a strong result. The national championship is running on the back of the main IRC and European championship events.
Sepp Wiegand is a Zlín novice but will be a contender for more IRC points in his ŠKODA Auto Deutschland entry following his late retirement from a potential podium on the previous round in Romania. Roman Kresta, a three-time Zlín winner, will also be armed with a Fabia S2000 as will ŠKODA Ireland’s Robert Barrable, Estonian youngster Karl Kruuda and Czech veteran Emil Triner, a former factory driver for the Czech make.
Pavel Valoušek heads the Peugeot challenge in his 207 Super 2000 and the rapid Czech driver will be anxious to make amends for the huge accident that forced his retirement from the rally last season. Florian Gonon and Michał Sołowow will also be driving the French machines, while Swede Patrik Flodin will be capable of success in his Petter Solberg Engineering M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 on the back of his maiden IRC podium on last month’s Sibiu Rally.
IRC Production Cup
Subaru is sending its three big guns – Andreas Aigner, Toshi Arai and Jarkko Nikara – to Zlín where they will come up against a host of local drivers in their Impreza R4 STIs. Zlín resident Jan Jelínek, Jaroslav Orsák and Vojtěch Štajf are all expected to run at the front in the IRC Production Cup, while Marco Cavigioli returns to the series after coming close to claiming the title in 2011. After a switch to a Renault Clio R3 for the recent brace of gravel events ruled him out of contention for IRC Production Cup points, Frenchman Robert Consani is back in his Mégane RS bidding to narrow Aigner’s title lead.
IRC 2WD Cup
With IRC 2WD Cup leader Harry Hunt not including the trip to Czech Republic on his schedule for 2012, Renault’s Robert Consani and Honda’s Martin Kangur will be aiming to take full advantage as they target the coveted crown for the first time. However, Jan Černý is one of several leading Czech pilots capable of causing an upset following a spate of class wins in his domestic championship this year. Josef Peták could also spring a surprise on his return to two-wheel-drive competition while Italian Davide Medici won the IRC 2WD Cup on Rallye Sanremo last season and will be rapid in his Clio, as will fellow Renault drivers Petr Brynda and Lubomír Minařík.