Friday demanded a lot of skill and a cool head from the teams at the Central European Rally: rain, mud, poor visibility made the drive on the demanding routes in the Czech Republic a hot ride. Accordingly, every participant had a lot to tell at the regrouping in Prachatice at noon.
#20 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) / Torstein Eriksen (NOR), Skoda Fabia RS
"We were a bit aggressive on the road. I then lost grip and we slid off the road. In addition, it was a bit muddy there. We got back on the road. But we damaged the rear left damper and the toe arm. We had to repair that after the stage. We lost about ten minutes because of the mistake. The fans who helped us seemed to be experienced in that. They were pretty well organised."
#22 Gus Greensmith (GBR) / Jonas Andersson (SWE), Skoda Fabia RS
"The morning didn't go so well. We had a puncture on the first special stage. In these conditions we can't handle the car so well."
#23 Sami Pajari (FIN) / Enni Mälkönen (FIN), Skoda Fabia RS
"The tracks in the morning were very difficult for us. It seemed like every driver in front of me went through the ditches. It seems to be difficult for everyone. It's not fluid to drive and so it's not easy to build confidence. We're trying to improve step by step now."
#24 Adrien Fourmaux (FRA) / Alexandre Coria (FRA), Ford Fiesta Mk II
"The first stages were difficult. Everyone was shovelling dirt onto the track in the cuts. We don't look bad though. Unfortunately we had a puncture on today's first stage. The afternoon could be even worse. When the mud dries, it sticks to the gravel and it can get even more slippery."
#25 Nikolay Gryazin (*) / Konstantin Aleksandrov (*), Skoda Fabia RS
"It was not a good morning. We had a puncture on the first stage, like many other drivers. But I don't understand where it happened. After that we were going fast. Still, there is a lot of disappointment because of the first stage. I don't know what to expect from the afternoon. It's nice if it stays dry. But if there is still a lot of mud on the track, you might still have to go for rain tyres."
#26 Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL) / Maciej Szczepaniak (POL), Skoda Fabia RS
"A muddy morning with very slippery stages. I don't think I've ever seen such muddy tracks. I tried to find a good feeling and setup. It's very important to feel the car. In addition, we were able to make up time."
#27 Emil Lindholm (FIN) / Reeta Hämäläinen (FIN), Hyundai i20 N
"The morning was very interesting and challenging. After the first two stages I was surprised that our pace was quite good. On the last stage we lost some time because we had problems with the brakes. Now I'm looking forward to the afternoon. It should be a bit easier."
#28 Miko Marczyk (POL) / Daniel Dymurski (POL), Skoda Fabia RS
"The tarmac on the third stage was very slippery. Unfortunately, the tyre didn't work. On the next stage we had problems with the intercom and it was very difficult for me to understand my co-driver. At the finish we changed the batteries. On the fifth stage the conditions were different because it started to dry out. Still, it doesn't look bad for us."
#31 Erik Cais (CZE) / Daniel Trunkát (CZE), Skoda Fabia RS
"It was not an easy morning. I had problems shifting up without the clutch. But I am happy that we are here now and the speed was okay. I am looking forward to the afternoon. It will be a big challenge. In the woods and everywhere where there are cuts, it will be difficult. We have to be patient in our approach."
#36 Nicolas Ciamin (FRA) / Yannick Roche (FRA), Skoda Fabia RS
"The morning loop was really not easy - I think that was the case for pretty much everyone. The tracks are very very demanding, with a lot of dirt or sometimes standing water on the track. That's why we spun on the second stage today and lost more than 10 seconds."
#39 Simon Wagner (AUT) / Gerald Winter (AUT), Skoda Fabia RS
"The morning was really modest. On SS3 we had a flat tyre and lost a minute. Because we only had a spare wheel with us, we had to roll through the next two stages so as not to risk anything - another puncture would have ended the day. Now we'll see how the afternoon goes. Hopefully it will be a little better."
#44 Štěpán Vojtěch (CZE) / Michal Ernst (CZE), Skoda Fabia
"Unfortunately we started the day with a flat tyre. We lost a lot of time there. The following two stages were okay, but extremely slippery. It's hard when you don't have much experience with the car and then you slide in fifth gear. We want to get to know the car better. The tyre choice for the afternoon will certainly not be easy. There's so much mud, we'll be going for safety."
#45 Albert von Thurn und Taxis (GER) / Jara Hain (GER), Skoda Fabia RS
"Unfortunately I had a modest morning. On the last stage, two kilometres before the end, after a crest, we landed a bit hard and the rim broke. As a result, the brake also broke, or rather the brake disc no longer exists. So unfortunately our day is over."
#46 Martin Roßgatterer (AUT) / Jürgen Heigl (AUT), Skoda Fabia Evo
"I was really overwhelmed by the impressions on the first special stage. I let myself get carried away a bit too much by the deep cuts. I then didn't drive a good stage and lost a lot of time. I was very anxious on the brakes and the gas. On the following stages I took courage and they were much better. We drove great times. I was very satisfied. I hope that I can keep up the speed now.”
#48 Armin Kremer (GER) / Ella Kremer (GER), Skoda Fabia RS
"It was an exciting morning in which we fortunately didn't have any big aha moments. We are now leading in the Masters class, we have good speed. It was to be expected that the tracks are so tricky when it rains. It's a challenge, but we're having fun. For the afternoon we are still thinking about our strategy. It will be drier but remain slippery."
#49 Johannes Keferböck (AUT) / Ilka Mimor (AUT), Skoda Fabia RS
"As with everyone, it was also very slippery for me. It was very surprising when you come around the corner in fifth gear and suddenly the road is gone because there is so much mud. We took it a bit slower - in "survival mode". I haven't been in the car for seven months now and it shows. But I think after today the cards will be reshuffled."
#55 Filip Kohn (CZE) / Tom Woodburn (GBR), Ford Fiesta Rally3
"We took it slowly to get a feeling first. Now we lead by 20 seconds - it's been a pretty good morning for us. We are pushing but staying on the safe side. In the afternoon we expect more mud and definitely not easier conditions. It's a case of keeping a cool head."
#56 Fabio Schwarz (GER) / Bernhard Ettel (AUT), Ford Fiesta Rally3
"It was very mixed. It was often difficult to read the grip. The first two special stages were quite okay. We struggled a bit with the last one. But the rhythm is right. I don't think it will be better this afternoon. It will certainly be more slippery in some areas."
#61 Timo Schulz (GER) / Michael Wenzel (GER), Opel Corsa Rally4
"The morning was really difficult. It was my first time driving with the car and the tyres in such difficult conditions. That's why I started cautiously. On the last stage we picked up the pace a bit and also set the fastest time in our class. We are managing our lead from last night and want to finish the day safely. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow and the long Mühltal special stage in Austria."