The 2013 European champion Kopecký is gunning for an 11th victory on his home round of the ERC.

Kopecký’s fellow Czechs Adam Březík, Erik Cais, Filip Mareš and Dominik Stříteský will also be rapid, as will ERC champions present (Efrén Llarena) and past (Chris Ingram and Alexey Lukyanuk).

Mads Østberg will also be a contender in his MRF Tyres-equipped Citroën C3 Rally2, as will Michelin-equipped Austrian champion Simon Wagner, French gravel champion Mathieu Franceschi and multiple Romanian title winner Simone Tempestini.

Support championship titles also up for grabs

While Jon Armstrong has already secured the FIA ERC3 title*, the FIA ERC4 and Hankook-supported FIA Junior ERC crowns are up for grabs with Roberto Daprà and Norbert Maior set to take the race for both titles down to the wire on the Rally Hungary finale following Ola Nore’s late withdrawal from Zlín due to funding shortages.

An asphalt rally like no other

Part of the ERC schedule since the championship’s streamlining in 2004, Barum Czech Rally Zlín is based in the South Moravian university city, 300 kilometres south of the Czech capital Prague.

It is a Tarmac test like no other due to the bumpy and sometimes broken nature of the road surface. To add to the challenge, several stages feature high-speed blasts through forests and intermittent showers are always possible. While the weather might be hard to predict, huge numbers of fans follow the action each year.

Featuring 13 all-asphalt stages over a competitive distance of 200.43 kilometres, only the legendary Slušovice and Semetín tests are unchanged for this season compared to the 51st running of the event in 2022, while the Kateřinice stage returns for the first time since 1994, albeit in a different layout than 29 years ago.

The action begins with a spectacular super special stage through the streets of Zlín from 21:00 CET on Friday.

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