Sunshine Coast: Team MRF driver and European champion Jan Kopecky (co-driver Pavel Dresler) took a comfortable lead after Day 1 of the International Rally of Queensland, the third round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), while teammate Gaurav Gill (Glenn Macneall) retired after crashing his Skoda Fabia S2000 here Saturday.
The 2013 APRC champion Gill went off the road in the fourth stage when he was ahead by 27 seconds. Pushing hard, Gill won the opening three stages but 5 km in to the New Million stage, he felt a suspension link break before the car lurched right on a left hand corner, speared down a bank and stopped 30 metres down a slope after two roll-overs.
Gill and Macneall were not hurt but the badly damaged car was retired. It will be repaired or replaced for the fourth round in Malaysia.
Czech Kopecky won six of the day`s 10 competitive Special Stages, totalling 118.6 km on fast but challenging gravel roads in the Mary Valley forests around Imbil, clocking a total of one hour, 12 minutes, 39.4 seconds.
Kopecky said he expected to be at a disadvantage to Indian teammate Gill`s experience here and would have had to work hard for success but the threat disappeared when Gill crashed.
Going into the event, Kopecky and Gill were tied on 66 points after each took a win and a second place in the preceding rounds of the six round series. But Kopecky will take the lead if he finishes a further six stages on Sunday when 85.69 competitive kms will be run.
Kopecky said he and Dresler had a mostly uneventful day, although his crew had to replace the right rear suspension at a service break after he hit a stump or rock during the morning.
"We had a good day but we`ll keep up the pressure tomorrow and watch out for those behind us. If we slow down too much you can lose concentration and anything can happen," said Kopecky.