Fabian and Frank did indeed face stiff competition, not least from the Brose Motorsport pairing of Dominik Dinkel / Christina Kohl, who were also driving a FABIA R5. But once again their quality shone through as they clinched the title at the final round of the season.
Kreim couldn’t have wished for a better start to the season. At the opening round, the Saarland-Pfalz Rallye, he won eight of the twelve special stages driven, but in a mark of the quality of the field in this year’s championship, his margin of victory was just 15.7 seconds. Nevertheless, he secured maximum points and claimed his third successive victory at this event.
Next up was the Hessen Rallye Vogelsberg, where again Kreim faced a tough contest. He made a slow start, but six successive stage wins in the middle of the rally saw him rise to the top. Later he lost the lead because of a puncture on SS9, but a fastest time in the penultimate stage helped him edge over the line just 5.1 ahead of Dinkel in second place.
At that stage, Kreim had won seven successive German Rally Championship events, but at the Rallye - Rund um die Sulinger Bärenklaue, his record came to an abrupt halt. He won two of the first three stages and was in the lead before being forced to retire after an accident on stage 4.
Fabian Kreim at the German Rally Championship 2017
That would have shaken some drivers’ confidence, but at the next round, the Sachsen-Rallye, Kreim was determined to make up for lost time. He won nine of the twelve special stages driven to take a dominant victory by a margin of 36.3 seconds. It was his first ever win at this event and a result which he described as an ‘important step towards the title defence’.
Nevertheless, he still sat in second place in the championship standings going into the fifth round of the season, the Rallye Stemweder Berg. It was an event he had won in each of the previous two seasons, but again he didn't have everything his own way. He won eight of the fifteen stages and ended up taking the win again, but his margin of victory was a wafer-thin 9.3 seconds.
Despite having won four of the five rallies so far, Kreim still found himself second in the championship with just three rounds remaining. Next up was the Thüringen Rallye where his fifth victory of the year finally saw him resume the championship lead. It was another assured performance too, as Kreim won each of the ten stages and lead from start to finish, eventually beating Dinkel by 56.6 seconds.
At the Rallye Niedersachsen, Kreim was expected by many to clinch the title, but things didn’t quite go to plan. Kreim set the pace early on, but in wet and slippery conditions found himself in a ditch on stage 9. He eventually managed to get out with the help of spectators but lost the lead and a great deal of time. In the end, he finished the rally in third place, which was impressive in the circumstances, but a first-ever German Rally Championship event victory for Dinkel ensured the championship would be decided at the final round.
Kreim went into the 3-Städte-Rallye knowing that a top 5 finish would be enough for him. As a result, he drove a measured rally, while title rival Dinkel went all out to get the victory he needed. He achieved that, but Kreim’s second place finish, 13.9 seconds back, was enough to earn the points he needed to be crowned German rally champion for a second successive year.
In doing so he also made ŠKODA the most successful manufacturer in German rally history, with a total of seven German Rally Championship titles under their belt.
[driver_medallion id="6" show_info="false"]
Fabian Kreim (born 1992) didn’t begin his rallying career until 2013. After just two seasons on the German rallying scene, he had shown sufficient promise to be signed up as an official driver by the ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland team. In 2015 he finished runner-up in the German Rally Championship, winning five rallies. The following season six wins were enough to ensure he took his maiden title as well as finishing runner-up in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship for the ŠKODA MRF team. German title number two was secured in 2017 and he has also made four WRC starts in his career so far, all at the Rallye Deutschland, with a best result of eighth in the WRC2 standings in his FABIA R5 in 2015.
[driver_profile id="6" label="Basic Facts"]