Following the retirement of Belgian rallying legend Freddy Loix at the end of the 2016 season, Vincent Verschueren was one of many drivers who hoped to step up. Loix won the Belgian championship four seasons in a row from 2013 to 2016, the final three of which were in a FABIA S2000 or FABIA R5. Verschueren had finished third in the championship on no fewer than four occasions. But this season, driving a FABIA R5 in the Duindinstel colours but prepared and run by the GoDrive team, alongside co-driver Veronique Hostens, he took his chance to claim his maiden Belgian championship title and a fourth successive win for ŠKODA.
If 2016 was a breakthrough year for Filip Nivette and his co-driver Kamil Heller, this season was the one where their class really shone through. After switching to a ŠKODA FABIA R5 in early 2016, they went on to win two rounds of the Polish Rally Championship, including their first ever drive of a FABIA R5 at the Rajd Gdańsk, and end the season in third place. A year on and they led the way from start to finish to be crowned Polish rally champions for the very first time.
Finland is often called ‘the Home of Rallying’ so it is a great feat to succeed in their very competitive domestic rally championship. In 2017 season, the winner in the most prestigious SM1 class of the Finnish Rally Championship was ŠKODA FABIA R5 driver Teemu Asunmaa. Along with co-driver Jonne Halttunen, he also helped Hannu’s Rally Team to the title in the Teams’ Championship, after what was an exciting and closely fought season.
Dutch rally driver Hermen Kobus returned to drive regularly in his home country this year for the first time since 2012 and he was well rewarded after three wins and two more podium finishes saw him claim the title in the 2017 Open Dutch Rally Championship (ONRK) as well as win the Dutch R5 Rally Challenge.
Roger Feghali is a legend in Lebanese rallying. He came into this season as a twelve-time Lebanese rally champion and driving for the Motortune Racing team alongside co-driver Joseph Matar looking for title number thirteen. He clinched it in emphatic fashion, winning three of the four events driven. And in the two decisive rounds, he was driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5.
Kalle Rovanperä is one of the brightest young talents in rallying right now and seems all set for a stellar future. Even though he is just seventeen years old, he came into this season as the reigning Latvian Rally Champion and has gone on to defend his title in impressive fashion for the TGS Worldwide OU team of former ŠKODA works driver Toni Gardemeister.
The pairing of ŠKODA Motorsport driver Jan Kopecký and the ŠKODA FABIA R5 has been imperious in the Czech Rally Championship (MČR) and so it proved again in 2017. After winning the title in 2015 and 2016 with a remarkable unbeaten record in every rally he has driven, Kopecký was at it again in 2017, ably support once more by regular co-driver Pavel Dresler.
The young German driver Marijan Griebel cruised to victory in the first ever FIA ERC Junior U28 Championship this year. Driving alongside co-driver Stefan Kopczyk in a ŠKODA FABIA R5 prepared and run by the Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team, the reigning ERC Junior Champion had secured the title after the fourth of six rounds in the series, with three victories and another podium finish to his name.