- In reverse order: this time around, Jan Kopecký won ahead of Pontus Tidemand
- Recording 18 best times, the ŠKODA FABIA R5 is the outstanding car at one of the most challenging races in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2)
- Three ŠKODA drivers still in with a chance of claiming the WRC 2 title
- Michal Hrabánek: “Top performance from the whole team“
Celebrations in the sunshine on the Costa Daurada: ŠKODA Motorsport has repeated the one-two victory from 2015 at the Rally Spain. After a dramatic duel over 321.08 kilometres, it was the Czech champions Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler who triumphed this time, 15,3 seconds ahead of the second works duo Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (S/S). Last year, it was Tidemand who had claimed victory ahead of Kopecký at one of the most challenging stops on the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2) calendar.
“That was a top performance from the whole team! Regardless of whether they were on gravel or asphalt, in rain or sun – both our driving teams were totally concentrated at all times and neither of them took any unnecessary risks, despite battling one another for the win. The Rally Spain represents a unique challenge on the world championship calendar. This repeat of our one-two victory proves once again how much quality our FABIA R5 has,” commented ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek, before looking ahead to the two remaining races of the WRC 2 season and adding: “We have made sure that we still have every chance in the battle for the title.”
This battle for victory was a roller-coaster of emotions for the two ŠKODA works drivers and thrilled the tens of thousands of fans who lined the stages on the picturesque Costa Daurada for four days. Jan Kopecký had taken an early lead after winning Thursday’s opening stage on wet streets in the pulsating metropolis of Barcelona. Team-mate Pontus Tidemand moved ahead on the muddy gravel stages as the torrential rain continued on Friday. However, on Saturday his 3.0-second advantage had disappeared quickly on asphalt – Kopecký overcame tyre problems to reclaim the lead and went into the final day 14.3 seconds ahead. On Sunday, the 34-year-old Czech driver successfully held off Tidemand’s final attacks before throwing himself into delighted victory celebrations.
“This win at the Rally Spain is worth its weight in gold. After three second-place finishes in a row in the WRC 2, it was about time I got a win,” commented Kopecký. The experienced driver celebrated his second win with the FABIA R5 in the WRC 2, having triumphed at the Rally Germany in 2015. In eight of the last nine WRC 2 races, victory has gone to a driver in the high-tech four-wheel drive car from the Czech manufacturer.
Works driver Esapekka Lappi won his home rally in Finland and claimed victory in Germany. Victory in Mexico, on Sardinia and at the Rally Poland went to Teemu Suninen (FIN), while Nicolás Fuchs (PE) triumphed for ŠKODA at the Rally Argentina. Works driver Tidemand celebrated a win at the Rally Portugal.
However, he was unable to repeat his 2015 triumph in Spain. Tidemand: “It was a tough fight with Jan. I tried absolutely everything but he put on a great performance. Congratulations to Jan – the most important thing was to secure the one-two victory for ŠKODA.”
Three ŠKODA drivers are still in with a chance of winning the WRC 2 title with two races remaining this season, in Great Britain and Australia. Teemu Suninen finished in fifth place in Spain, driving a FABIA R5 for a privateer team, and is in second place in the overall standings with 103 points. He is followed by the works drivers Esapekka Lappi (82) and Jan Kopecký (80). The two ŠKODA Motorsport drivers have only competed in five races this season and still each have two chances to collect 25 points for a win. Suninen can only record points one more time. The Rally Great Britain (27 to 30 October) will host the big showdown between all three ŠKODA title challengers. WRC 2 leader Elfyn Evans (GB/120 points) has already completed all seven races in which he can collect points for the overall standings this season.
Final standings Rally Spain (WRC 2):
|1||Kopecký/Dresler (CZ/CZ)||ŠKODA FABIA R5||3:22:08.7 hrs|
|2||Tidemand/Andersson (S/S)||ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 0:15.3 min.|
|3||Turan/Zsiros (H/H)||Peugeot 208 R5||+ 14:54.1 min.|
|4||Van den Heuvel/Dockx (NL/NL)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X||+ 25:02.6 min.|
|5||Suninen/Markkula (FIN/FIN)||ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 29:09.0 min.|
The number of the rally: 18
What a demonstration: the ŠKODA FABIA R5 was the fastest car in the WRC 2 class in 18 out of 19 special stages at the Rally Spain. Works driver Jan Kopecký delivered a convincing performance, recording the fastest time on twelve occasions. On the 38.95 kilometres of the longest special stage, “Terra Alta 1”, he shared the fastest time with French driver Julien Maurin, who was competing in a FABIA R5 for a privateer team. Works drivers Pontus Tidemand (5) and Teemu Suninen (1), in a customer car, recorded the other best times for ŠKODA.