Freddy Loix claimed his third win in as many Intercontinental Rally Challenge appearances as both Jan Kopecky and Bryan Bouffier went off when leading in the final stages of Rally Zlin.
Kopecky had dominated his home event in the Czech Republic from the outset, only to crash his Skoda out of the rally on the first stage out of service this afternoon.
That turned Peugeot driver Bouffier and Skoda man Loix's battle for second into a fight for the rally victory. Bouffier started well by winning SS15 and stretching his lead over Loix to 7.2sec, but then early on SS16 he made a mistake and damaged a wheel, handing the lead to Loix.
The Frenchman was able to fix the damage on the next road section and went into the final stage still within 3.8sec of Loix - only for a water pipe to come loose and force him to stop. By the time Bouffier finally made it to the end of the stage, he had lost six minutes, and Loix had already reached the finish and started celebrating his victory.
Skoda claimed its home 1-2-3 after all, with Juho Hanninen stretching his points lead in second and local driver Pavel Valousek emerging with third as first a sticking throttle then a differential problem cost Kris Meeke (Peugeot UK) another position on the last stage of a very tough rally for the reigning champion.
The late attrition also helped Andreas Mikkelsen, whose Ford was elevated to fifth. Guy Wilks (Skoda UK) took seventh on his comeback after a back injury, hampered by a brush with a deer on Saturday morning and then repeated differential issues.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Freddy Loix Skoda 2h31m31.0s
2. Juho Hanninen Skoda + 25.0s
3. Pavel Valousek Skoda + 1m20.2s
4. Kris Meeke Peugeot + 1m57.6s
5. Andreas Mikkelsen Ford + 2m33.9s
6. Vaclav Pech Mitsubishi + 3m07.4s
7. Guy Wilks Skoda + 3m41.1s
8. Jaromir Tarabus Ford + 5m18.0s
9. Tomas Kostka Skoda + 6m13.1s
10. Bryan Bouffier Peugeot + 6m52.2s