WRC 2: ŠKODA showdown at the Rally Spain heralds crucial phase of title race

Rally Spain 6395

  • Last year’s winner Pontus Tidemand and Czech champion Jan Kopecký at the wheel for the ŠKODA works team
  • Teemu Suninen another title contender in the ŠKODA FABIA R5 – ten ŠKODA FABIA R5s in the starting field
  • Seven wins already for ŠKODA in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2)
  • Michal Hrabánek: “The most experienced driver tends to win the Rally Spain”

Ten ŠKODA FABIA R5s on the starting list, three of which are still in with a chance of winning the championship – the Rally Spain heralds the crucial phase of the FIA World Championship (WRC 2) with a genuine showdown between the ŠKODA drivers. Representing the ŠKODA Motorsport works team are last year’s winner Pontus Tidemand (S) and his co-driver Jonas Andersson (S), and Czech champions Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ). From Thursday to Sunday they can expect an exciting battle with the man currently second in the championship, Teemu Suninen (FIN), at the wheel of a ŠKODA FABIA R5 run by a private team.

“We are at the business end of the season, and we have a high-class field,” said ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek. “Anyone wanting to win here must be on the very top of their game.” He sees the Rally Spain as one of the highlights of the world championship season, as it is the only “hybrid rally”, with one day predominantly on gravel and two on asphalt. “The most experienced driver, who copes best with all the different surfaces, tends to win the Rally Spain. It goes without saying that the driver also needs a perfect car to cope with these specific challenges. The fact that the field in Spain includes so many ŠKODA FABIA R5s speaks volumes for our rally car,” said Hrabánek.


Although the first 3.20 of the 340 kilometres of special stage will take place on the asphalt roads of Barcelona on Thursday, the ŠKODA FABIA R5s will start with a gravel set-up. The reason: roughly 89 per cent of Friday’s special stages will be contested on gravel roads. The ŠKODA Motorsport team then faces a big challenge on Friday evening: the mechanics have just 75 minutes to ensure the high-tech cars are ready for a return to asphalt roads, as the majority of Saturday and Sunday’s special stages will be held on this surface.

Last year, the ŠKODA Motorsport drivers passed this test with flying colours: Pontus Tidemand and Jan Kopecký finished first and second – a success the two works drivers would love to repeat this year. “I obviously have fantastic memories of the Rally Spain. I definitely want to get back on the top step of the podium, although the opposition will be tough – particularly the ŠKODA’s of Jan Kopecký and Teemu Suninen,” said Tidemand. Recent victory at the Rally Uppsala in his native Sweden has given Tidemand a boost of confidence. On the same weekend, Kopecký finished runner-up at the Rally France. This represented the 20th podium for ŠKODA Motorsport with the FABIA R5 in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2).

“I am looking forward to the Rally Spain. It will all come down to who adapts quickest to the different surfaces,” said Kopecký. “If I can manage that, I have a good chance of winning. After three runner-up finishes in a row in WRC 2, it is about time I won one.” Like team-mate Tidemand, he needs a win to keep his chances of winning the WRC 2 title alive. The man best placed in the title race is Teemu Suninen, who is currently second behind Elfyn Evans (120 points/seven races) with 93 points from five races. The third ŠKODA works driver Esapekka Lappi (82 points/five races) is also still in contention. He will not be in action in Spain, but could still pick up points in the remaining two races in Great Britain and Australia.

Seven of the last eight WRC 2 races have seen a ŠKODA FABIA R5 driver winning. Works driver Lappi won his home rally in Finland and triumphed again in Germany, while team-mate Pontus Tidemand (S) celebrated a win at the Rally Portugal. Victory in Mexico, on Sardinia and at the Rally Poland went to Suninen, while Nicolás Fuchs (PE) triumphed for ŠKODA at the Rally Argentina.