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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.

The championship began at the Rajd Świdnicki, where Nivette faced a stern challenge early on. But he soon found his groove and eight fastest times in the final nine special stages saw him ease to a comfortable victory by a margin of 38.9 seconds.

It was a perfect start, and he managed to carry the winning form into the second round at the Rajd Gdańsk too. This is the only gravel round of the Polish championship so offers a very different test, but Nivette dominated again. He led from start to finish, winning eight of the nine stages driven to finish a sizable 52.3 seconds ahead of the field. It was his second successive win at this event.

Filip Nivette / Kamil Heller, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Filip Nivette. Rajd Gdańsk Baltic Cup 2017

Next up was the Rajd Rzeszowski which - as well as being the third round of the Polish Rally Championship - was also on the FIA European Rally Championship calendar. In a fiercely competed rally, an early puncture cost them valuable time and while they kept pace with the leaders, they were not able to close that gap. They ended up eleventh overall, but sixth in the Polish standings and that was enough to retain their championship lead.

Round 4 was the Rajd Dolnoślaski, which saw Nivette quickly back to winning ways. It was another dominant display, especially after his main rival and fellow FABIA R5 driver Dominykas Butvilas was forced to retire. In the end, Nivette won eight of the nine stages to cruise to victory by a huge margin of 1 minute 21 seconds. It was a crucial win, as well as a repeat of his victory here in 2016, and left him with a 39 point lead at the top of the championship.

That meant he could clinch the title with a good performance at the penultimate round, the Rajd Nadwiślański. But he didn’t have everything his own way at this event. A stiff challenge from Bryan Bouffier pushed Nivette all the way, but after the Frenchman crashed out on stage 7, the path was left clear for Nivette. To his credit, he continued to push, winning all the remaining stages to win the rally by 1 minute and 29 seconds.

And that result meant that - regardless of the outcome of the Rajd Śląska, which Nivette didn’t drive - he would be crowned Polish rally champion for 2017.

Filip Nivette / Kamil Heller, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Rajd Nadwiślański 2017

Nivette ended the season with four wins from the five rounds of the Polish championship he drove. He impressed with the consistently high levels of performance he delivered throughout the season and looks to be well placed to dominate the Polish Rally scene for many years to come.

Filip Nivette (born 1982) first competed in rallying in 2003. Despite many years in and around the Polish rallying scene, he didn’t step up to driving a 4WD car until 2015, which was the year that also saw his first drive in a FABIA R5. After switching permanently to the ŠKODA in 2016, he claimed the first two overall wins of his career as he finished third in the Polish championship. 2017 was his first full season in a FABIA R5 and ended with him claiming the Polish Rally Championship in impressive fashion, winning four of the five rallies he drove in the national series.

Basic Facts

Birthdate: 8. 2. 1982
Birthplace: Warszawa
Nationality: Polish
The biggest successes: 2017 Polish Rally Champion
First rally: Samochodowy Rajd Ziemi Lubelskiej 2003

ŠKODA Champions 2017

Pontus Tidemand
WRC2

Gaurav Gill
APRC

Gustavo Saba
CODASUR & Paraguay

Manvir Baryan
Africa

Marijan Griebel
Europe (U28)

Jan Kopecký
Czech Republic

Kalle Rovanperä
Latvia

Roger Feghali
Lebanon

Hermen Kobus
Netherlands (ONRK)

Teemu Asunmaa
Finland

Filip Nivette
Poland

Vincent Verschueren
Belgium

Norbert Herczig
Hungary

Socratis Tsolakidis
Greece

Burak Çukurova
Turkey

Fabian Kreim
Germany

Simos Galatariotis
Cyprus