The roll call of championship victories begins at the very pinnacle of rallying, the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), where Pontus Tidemand and co-driver Jonas Andersson clinched the WRC2 title in emphatic fashion, winning five rallies along the way. It was a second successive WRC2 Drivers’ title for ŠKODA Motorsport as well as completing a hat-trick of Teams’ titles too.
Asia - Pacific
In the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), Gaurav Gill, driving a FABIA R5 for the ŠKODA MRF team, which is supported by the ŠKODA factory, made it six Drivers’, Teams’ and Manufacturers’ titles in a row. He retained the APRC title he won last year and claimed his third title overall.
In South America, Gustavo Saba also retained the CODASUR South American Rally Championship title. It was his fifth CODASUR title, which makes him the most successful driver in the CODASUR championship history. The most recent three (2013, 2016 and 2017) have been in ŠKODA cars.
And in Africa, Manvir Baryan wrote a new chapter in ŠKODA motorsport history as he secured the first ever rally victory for a ŠKODA car on African soil at the Mombasa Rally in the Kenyan championship. He then went on to add a maiden win in the FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) at the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally, before completing a glorious treble in October by becoming the first ŠKODA driver to win the ARC title after his win at the Zambia International Rally.
Meanwhile, in Europe, the newly created FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship was won by 2016 ERC Junior Champion, Marijan Griebel. Griebel only drove the first four of six rallies in the championship, but three wins and a podium at the fourth ensured he would be the champion.
It was not just at international stage where ŠKODA FABIA R5 drivers enjoyed success. There were plenty of successes at national level too.
At ŠKODA’s home rally series in the Czech Republic, ŠKODA Motorsport works driver Jan Kopecký won his third successive national title and fifth overall. Once again Kopecký was totally dominant in his FABIA R5, winning every rally he drove in for the third year running.
For the second year running, Gustavo Saba added his national title, the Paraguayan Rally Championship to his CODASUR crown. It is the third year in a row he has been crowned Paraguayan champion and his sixth title overall – four of which have come in ŠKODA cars.
Kalle Rovanperä is one of the hottest young names in international rallying at the moment and he showed why as he retained his Latvian Rally Championship crown in a FABIA R5. Rovanperä had the 2017 title in the bag before the end of August which meant he was a confirmed two-time champion just over a month before his seventeenth birthday.
In Germany, it was Fabian Kreim who was the dominant driver. He won his second successive German Rally Championship title and in doing so ensured that ŠKODA would become the most successful manufacturer in German rallying history, with a total of seven German Rally Championship titles under their belts.
In neighbouring Belgium, Vincent Verschueren won his first major title as he was crowned Belgian rally champion. In doing so, he secured a fourth successive Belgian title for ŠKODA as he stepped into the shoes of Belgian rallying legend Freddy Loix who won three in a row between 2014 and 2016 before retiring.
In Hungary, Norbert Herczig has also been a dominant force in domestic rallying. This year he won his third successive Hungarian Rally Championship title - all of which have come in ŠKODA cars - and his fourth championship overall.
Meanwhile, in Finland, Teemu Asunmaa won his first title in the most prestigious category of the Finnish Rally Championship. His achievement was made all the more impressive as it was his first season not only driving a FABIA R5 but competing in the R5 class at all.
In Greece, Socratis Tsolakidis won his second Greek Rally Championship fourteen years after his first. He took a long break from rallying competing in almost no rallies between 2009 and 2016, but he returned in a FABIA R5 to take the championship by storm.
And last but by no means least Simos Galatariotis won the Cyprus Rally Championship for the first time in his career. He started the season in another car, but drove a FABIA R5 for last two rounds of the season, winning them both to ensure he would be crowned champion.
While there were no shortage of championship victories to celebrate, these were not the only successes enjoyed by ŠKODA FABIA R5 drivers this season.
Yağiz Avci was victorious at the FIA European Rally Trophy Final at the Rallye Casinos do Algarve in Portugal. Mathieu Arzeno also enjoyed victory in the finale of the French Cup in Marseille, while Luca Rossetti won International Rally Cup in Italy. Krisztián Hideg also drove a FABIA R5 in the final decisive round of his successful Mitropa Cup challenge and drove it in one round of his victorious Croatian Rally Championship campaign, the Rally Croatia, too.
Plenty of ŠKODA FABIA R5 drivers came close to winning championship titles too. Amongst those also fighting for the title until the very last round of the season but ending the season as runner-up in the end were Ole Christian Veiby in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship as well as in Norway, Marcos Ligato in the CODASUR South American Championship, Bruno Magalhães in the FIA European Rally Championship, Kris Princen in Belgium, Dominik Dinkel in Germany, Fredrik Åhlin in Great Britain, Dan Gîrtofan in Romania, Umberto Scandola in Italy, Martin Koči in Slovakia and Pedro Meireles in Portugal.
Meanwhile, also finishing as runners-up in their respective championships were Nikolay Gryazin in Latvia, Miguel Zaldivar in Paraguay, Uğur Soylu in Turkey, Pedro Burgo in Spain and Quentin Giordano in the French Tarmac Rally Championship.
It truly has been a staggering season of success for ŠKODA drivers all around the world. While many have credited the FABIA R5 for their achievements, huge congratulations must also go to each of them for their exemplary displays of driving in what have often been hugely challenging conditions, as well as to all ŠKODA Customer Teams.
ŠKODA Motorsport is now eagerly looking forward to 2018 when we hope that there will be more success to celebrate for the FABIA R5 and our customer teams from all over the globe.