Skoda at Rally Spain
The Rally Spain (22 to 25 October) will be the first WRC 2 rally to be contested by three ŠKODA works duos in the Fabia R5. A Finnish/Swedish/Czech driving crew will line up for ŠKODA at the penultimate WRC 2 event of the season: Alongside Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN), who are currently second in the standings, Asia-Pacific champions Pontus Tidemand/Emil Axelsson(S/S) and Czech rally champions Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ) will be in action in Spain. ŠKODA Motorsport has a commanding lead in the current WRC 2 team standings. The new Fabia R5 has finished on the podium at all six of its appearances in the WRC 2 this season.
"As a mixed rally held on asphalt and gravel, the Rally Spain is extremely challenging for drivers and cars alike. We want to be driving for the win," said ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek. Lappi/Ferm and Tidemand/Axelsson will be chasing points for ŠKODA Motorsport in the WRC 2 team standings. Kopecký/Dresler will line up in Spain as ŠKODA Motorsport II.
A lively battle awaits the three ŠKODA duos at the 51st edition of the Rally Spain. All eight winners of rallies in this WRC 2 season are fighting for the win. Victory will go to the best all-rounder: The 23 special stages and 331.25 timed kilometres will be driven on asphalt roads and gravel tracks.
Esapekka Lappi, currently second in the overall standings with two WRC 2 wins in Poland and Finland, is excited for the Rally Spain: "After finishing second on Corsica, we want to be back fighting for the win and hold on to our chance of getting the overall win in the drivers’ standings. The rally will be very demanding. We will have to completely change the way we drive between Friday and Saturday. Fortunately we have the perfect tool in the ŠKODA Fabia R5," said Lappi. Going into the final two rallies of the season, the "Flying Finn" trails front-runner Nasser Al-Attiyah (Q) by nine points. Al-Attiyah competes in a Fabia R5 from ŠKODA’s customer racing programme.
Pontus Tidemand is also ready to pounce. After his early exit at the Rally Corsica, the 2013 Junior World Rally Champion is looking to make amends. "Our aim is to finish on the podium. The competition is extremely strong so we can’t afford to make any mistakes this time around," said Tidemand. In September the Swede laid early claim to the title in this year’s Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
The third ŠKODA works driver Jan Kopecký will contest his third WRC event this year when he lines up in Spain. On his most recent WRC start in the ŠKODA Fabia R5, the experienced Czech won the Rally Germany in August of this year. "It's great that I can participate again and be among this top starting field. I have very fond memories of Spain," said Kopecký.
The new ŠKODA Fabia R5 has been a sure-fire success in its inaugural season. In all six WRC 2 races, at least one Fabia R5 has made it onto the podium; there have been a total of nine top-three finishes, including three wins. The new rally car also has four national championships to its name. In the Czech championship, Jan Kopecký’s five wins in a row saw him clinch the title before the end of the season. In Austria, seasoned rally driver Raimund Baumschlager (A) won the national championship in the Fabia R5. In Hungary, Norbert Herczig (H) was crowned rally champion in the Fabia R5. "Fast" Freddy Loix (B) was also victorious in the championship in his home country of Belgium.