Mixed feelings for Wagner after Czech podium
The Austrian driver fought an impressive battle against a field of experienced local drivers to finish third overall – a repeat of the result he achieved on gravel on the Azores Rallye earlier this year.
However, he left the penultimate round of the championship ruining what could have been after missing second place by just 1.7 seconds over Filip Mareš. Wagner foul betting on tire choice on a number of stages, while a Friday lap also cost valuable time.
“When we saw at the start of the rally that we could fight with the local guys, then of course I wished I could be in front of them,” Wagner said. “But it’s very, very difficult to go at the same time. Speed because they know all the stages quite well.
“If there is a new stage or new sections like the one we had on Sunday, we can win some stages, but on the others it is quite difficult to change the times. The conditions were absolutely unpredictable and even when we We were at the start of the stages, we didn’t know if it would rain or not.
“Overall it was a crazy rally, but we enjoyed every metre. Of course, I’m still very happy [with third place]but I think it could have been even better,” he added.
Wagner was lucky to survive a hair-raising moment on the final stage when his Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo slid into a ditch on the outside of a left-hander. He and his co-driver Gerald Winter escaped with inches to spare and narrowly missed a pile of logs that would likely have ended their rally.
The best of Barum Czech Rally Zlín
“It wasn’t that dramatic, it just took us a while to get through it,” smiled the 29-year-old. “I was always convinced that we could pull it off and in the end everything turned out fine.
“I was hoping the rain would come earlier on this stage, but in the end we didn’t have the perfect tire choice for the conditions and I had a small one in a ditch. The front of the car was full of grass and we lost some power which was a bigger issue.
“In the end, we are quite satisfied and I am very happy with the work we have done. Thanks to Škoda and Michelin – they were perfect.