Barrable’s four-month rally drought will come to an end
Robert Barrable will end a four-month rally drought when he contests the Barum Czech Rally Zlín (August 29-31) in his Tunnock’s World Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5.
The last event the 26-year old driver from Swords near Dublin contested was the Circuit of Ireland in April, where he finished a magnificent third overall. Since then Robert has been working hard on his fitness and announced his engagement to girlfriend Olivia Leavy – but now he is turning his attention to his return to the FIA European Rally Championship, and his third attempt at the fast and challenging Czech Republic asphalt event.
Robert contested the Barum Rally for the first time in 2011, but wasn’t classified as a finisher after his time card went missing at the final control. The following year he returned and, together with co-driver Stuart Loudon, finished fifth overall in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000.
Robert’s CA1 Sport-run Fiesta R5 has had a full gearbox rebuild and a meticulous overhaul in preparation for the Barum Rally. He also plans to test the car in the Czech Republic prior to the start of one of the country’s biggest motorsport event.
Competition on the Barum Rally will be extremely tough, with 121 crews from 25 countries on the entry list – including 25 R5 or S2000 cars. Along with Robert, the leading drivers include Ott Tänak (Fiesta R5), ERC leader Esapekka Lappi and Sepp Wiegand (ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia S2000s), Craig Breen, Kevin Abbring and Bruno Magalhães (Peugeot 208T16s) and Czech champion Václav Pech (Mini).
Robert: “It’s been four long months since our last rally, so I can’t wait to get back into the Tunnocks R5 and have a real crack at scoring a good result. I’ve done the Barum Rally twice before, so I’ve got a pretty good knowledge of the event. It’s certainly not easy, especially as the grip levels change dramatically depending on the weather. Both times I’ve done the rally, it’s been hot on the recce, very wet during the event, and dry again at the finish. That’s makes everything all the more challenging – and not too dissimilar to Ireland, which is perhaps why we’ve always gone well there. Our best result is fifth, and even though the competition from both the European Championship contenders and the very quick local drivers will be very tough, we’ll be aiming to try and better our best result.”
Stuart: “The Barum Rally is one of the toughest events I’ve ever done, because the stages are so demanding. The weather can play a huge part – in 2012 there was torrential rain on the Saturday and we aquaplaned off the road at one point. As a lot of the stages are done twice, Rob will tell me where the mud is during our first run through so we can adjust the pace notes before the second loop. Barum is definitely a rally where you have to drive to the conditions, and if you master that you’ll be in line for a good result. We haven’t been in a rally car together since April, so we’ll need to sharpen ourselves on the test before we hit a hundred miles an hour down those narrow bumpy country lanes!”
The 44th Barum Czech Rally Zlín contains 15 Tarmac stages covering 147.46 miles (237.33kms), with the centralised service park located at the Barum tyre factory in Otrokovice. Following a Qualifying Stage, which will determine the starting order, the action begins with the traditional opening night-time 5.9 mile (9.51km) stage in downtown Zlín on Friday 29 August, with cars doing three high-speed laps in reverse running order – with the top cars finishing at around 23.00.
Leg 1 continues the following day at 08.00, with eight stages including two runs on the Slušovice motor racing circuit and the Troják stage which, at 14.17 miles (22.82kms), is the longest of the rally. Leg 2 on Sunday 31 August gets underway at 07.00 and goes straight into three long stages. The loop of 40 miles (54.71kms) is then repeated after a late morning service, before the finish ceremony in Zlín at 16.00.
The event attracts a huge number of spectators, while 227 journalists from 18 countries attended the event last year. Daily highlights will be broadcast on Eurosport.