Barum Czech Rally Zlin is one of the most famous and iconic rallies in Central Europe. For thirty-five years, this event has been immovable in the European Rally Championship calendar. At the same time, it is the Czech Championship round. It is special for its roads, located in the southeastern part of the Czech Republic, in the outskirts of city Zlin. Those roads are very narrow, twisted in hills, forests, and villages with very variable quality of tarmac, which often gots dirty when drivers cut the corners. Every turn there requires maximum accuracy, and for the co-drivers, it is not easy to read the pace notes under these conditions. Alongside these extremely challenging roads, thousands of rally fans gather to watch the spectacle and cheer their favorites.
Well, and the king of this rally is Czech Jan Kopecky. He won this rally for the ninth time this year, leaving others far behind. Few drivers such as Lukyanuk, Pech, or Loix were able to compete for the Jan. This year, Nikolay Gryazin, also tried to oppose him. In one, almost 12 kilometers long stage, named after the flowing river of Semetin, the Russian had no equal. Nikolay and this stage have one thing in common – the 15-year-old Richard Burns Rally simulator.
The Richard Burn Rally game, despite its age, is still heavily used by rally fans. Thousands of kilometers of real and fictional stages have been created, car physics have been perfected to date, and players have the opportunity to test a bunch of modern-era and historic rally cars. Lithuania even has an official rally e-championship, where the winner of the e-championship can be crowned among real Lithuania rally champions. More info – E-LARC. There is a particularly large community in the Czech Republic, so we can find quite a lot of rally stages from that region. One of them, the Barum Czech Rally Zlin stage – Semetin. And Nikolay Gryazin does not shy himself to drive a virtual car instead of real and probably made a lot of drives through Semetin stage, knowing, that this stretch is one of his favorites. It is a common thing in circuit racing, drivers tend to practice a lot and learn new tracks with simulator help. And here in the rally world, this is a relatively rare but growing thing.
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Photo – Ondra Beneda