Barum Czech Rally Zlin – an Integral Part of the European Rally Scene
The Barum Czech Rally Zlin is the biggest rally event in the Czech Republic and the regular fixture of the European Rally Championship since 1984.
The event was held for the first time in 1971 as the Barum Rallye and during the years, the names were changing (Barum Rally Zlin, Barum Czech Rally Zlin), but the event was always representing the pinnacle of the Czech rally sport and became one of the most popular rallies in Europe.
From the very first day, the main partner of the rally was the Czech biggest tyre manufacturer Barum, today part of the Continental group, so the event is bearing Barum’s name since the beginning. The Barum Rally was the tarmac rally from the start, never changing a surface on which the best European rally drivers are showing their skills.
The first Barum Rallye was held in 1971
It all started in 1971 when the 1st Barum Rallye took place in Gottwaldov, what was a name of the Moravian town Zlin until 1990. The first winner was Jan Halmazna in a Škoda 1100 MB. In the next two years, the winner was Vladimir Hubaček in an Alpine-Renault A110.
Although the rally was a round of the Czechoslovakian national championship, the big number of foreign drivers came in 1974 and the German driver Wolfgang Hauck became the first foreigner to win the Barum Rallye. He was a winner in a Porsche 911 Carrera SC.
Vladimir Hubaček, John Haugland as three-time winners
In 1975, Vladimir Hubaček scored his third victory, again in an Alpine-Renault A110. The Norwegian driver John Haugland finished in the second place that year and then scored his first win in 1976, driving a Škoda 130 RS. Haugland later scored two more wins in the same car, in 1979 and 1980, becoming the second three-time winner.
The other winners in that period were Vaclav Blahna (1977, Škoda 130 RS), Jiri Šedivy (1978, Škoda 130 RS), Antonio Zanussi (1981, Porsche 911 Carrera), Gerhard Kalnay (1982, Opel Ascona 400) and Ladislav Kreček (1983, Škoda 130 RS).
A part of the European Rally Championship from 1984
From 1977, the Barum Rally was a part of the Mitropa Cup, then a part of the Alpe Adria Rally Cup from 1981 to 1983, and finally the part of the European Rally Championship from 1984. The first winner of the Czech ERC round was the German driver Harald Demuth in an Audi 80 quattro. He repeated a victory in 1985, driving an Audi Quattro A2.
Two more wins went to Audi in 1986 and 1987 when the winners were Leo Pavlik in an Audi Quattro A2 and Attila Ferjancz in an Audi 90 quattro. The Austrian Franz Wittmann scored two wins in 1988 and 1989 in a Lancia Delta. Mikael Sundstrom was the first winner from Finland, winning the rally in 1990 in a Mazda 323 4WD.
The Belgian Patrick Snijers scored two wins in 1991 (Ford Sierra Cosworth 4×4) and 1994 (Ford Escort RS Cosworth). Between his two wins, Erwin Weber triumphed in 1992 in a Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 and Raimund Baumschlager was the winner in 1993 in a Ford Escort RS Cosworth.
Enrico Bertone, Roman Kresta as three-time winners
The Italian Enrico Bertone scored his first win at Barum Rallye in 1995, driving a Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD. He scored two more wins in a Toyota Celica in 1997 and 1998, becoming the third driver with three wins.
The Polish driver Janusz Kulig also won the rally in a Toyota Celica in 1999 and then, in 2000, Roman Kresta scored his first win in a Škoda Octavia WRC. Next year, Kresta was the winner in a new version of Škoda Octavia WRC. He scored his third victory in 2006, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.
Upgrade of rally name in 2002 and 2009
The name of the event has been changed to Barum Rally Zlin for the first time in 2002. Seven years later, in 2009, the new name Barum Czech Rally Zlin has been used for the first time.
From 2007 to 2012, the event was counted both for the European Rally Championship and Intercontinental Rally Challenge. When the IRC was dismissed in 2013, the Barum Czech Rally Zlin continued to be a round of the European Rally Championship.
Jan Kopecky is a record-holder with seven wins
Five years after his first win in 2004, the Czech rally star Jan Kopecky scored his second victory in 2009, driving a Škoda Fabia S2000. The third win followed in 2011 in the new evolution of the Fabia S2000. Kopecky became the record-holder in 2013 when he scored his fourth win, again in a Škoda Fabia S2000. From 2015 to 2017, he added three more wins in a Škoda Fabia R5, setting a new record of seven wins.
Some other drivers who climbed to the top podium spot in a period of Kopecky’s reign were Nicolas Vouilloz (2007, Peugeot 207 S2000), Freddy Loix (2008, Peugeot 207 S2000; 2010, Škoda Fabia S2000), Juho Hanninen (2012, Škoda Fabia S2000) and Vaclav Pech (2014, Mini JCW S2000).