Michal Zd’arsky wins FIA ecoRally Cup Championship by one point

Michal Zd’arsky wins FIA ecoRally Cup Championship by one point

Michal Zd’arsky and co-driver Jakub Neblek have been crowned as the champions of the all-electric 2023 Bridgestone FIA ecoRally Cup after a nail-biting final day of action in the EcoDolomitesGT regularity rally in Italy.

Throughout the opening day, the top three positions on the regularity had been traded by the three championship contenders, who were separated by just four points at the start of the event in Fiera di Primiero. The Bridgestone FIA ecoRally Cup is a series of regularity rallies, meaning that the route must be navigated to precise timings within regular traffic and obeying local traffic laws and speed 

Zd’arsky and Nablek in their Hyundai Kona, defending champions Eneko Conde and Lukas Sergnese in their Kia E-Niro and local hero Guido Guerrini, alongside Polish co-driver Artur Prusak in their Kia E-Niro, left nothing on the table throughout the day. Their battle raged on throughout the morning tests as the field drove out from the Dolomites to the Sudtirol and Italy’s border with Austria

Adding to the intrigue were a number of highly competitive crews also out to try and win the picturesque Dolomites event. Among them were Slovenian pairing Franko Spacapan and co-driver Sebastjan Kobal, winners of their home event in September, who were seldom out of the mix throughout the event.

Also well within sight of the podium places throughout were perennial contenders Didier Malga and Anne-Valerie Bonnel from France, Romanian pairing Mircea Mester and Socariciu Cornel and top female circuit racer Beitske Visser, teamed with German sim racer Arthur Kammerer as co-driver. The latter pair endured a nervous start to the final day after their Polestar 2 had failed to charge at the overnight halt, requiring them to drive to a fast charging point before the start in order to boost their car’s battery.

When the crews returned from the mountains to Fiera di Primiero, Guerrini celebrated claiming the regularity victory from Spacapan with Conde in third place. Holding fourth behind his two title rivals meant a nervous wait for Zd’arsky while the FIA assessed the data from the all-important equipment which calculates the energy usage.

The long wait saw further drama as one or two competitors at the back of the field elected to protest the results. While the event stewards under chairperson Ruth Lapieza resolved these issues, the nervous wait for all of the crews went on until the complete results were finally announced.

Zd’arsky had won the energy consumption element of the event by the slenderest of margins from Visser, with Guerrini third and Conde fourth. This meant that the overall event result put Guerrini as the winner of the EcoDolomites GT, with Zd’arsky second and Conde third, which was enough for the Czech crew to claim the season-long title by just one point.

“It was a very long season,” said Zd’arsky. “I think we travelled about 4,000 kilometres across Europe in all eight rallies. We’ve had some victories, it was very tough with Eneko and Lukas and with Guido and Artur. He was the home hero here, he’s very good in Italy and it was an incredible final.” Depite losing the title race by the smallest possible margin, rally winner Guerrini was fulsome in his praise of his rivals.

“This championship this year was very, very interesting to the finish and I want to say special thank-yous to Michal and Jakub and also to Eneko and Lukas and we are here together on the podium as the top three in the championship with not so many points between us,” he said.

The crews can now look forward to a well-earned break over the short winter close season before they start to prepare for the start of the 2024 Bridgestone FIA ecoRally Cup with its traditional snowy start on Sweden’s Östersund Winter Eco Rally on January 25-27.

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