ŠKODA Motorsport looks back on a successful 2021 season. Customer teams and their drivers not only won titles in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC); they also took national championships in many different countries such as Argentina, Australia and Russia at the wheel of the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo and its predecessor, the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2.
Andreas Mikkelsen took the drivers’ title in the WRC2 category and also became European Rally Champion. In both series, the Norwegian drove a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo of ŠKODA Motorsport supported team Toksport WRT, which won the ERC Teams’ Championship. Because Mikkelsen shared the cockpit with different co-drivers, the ERC’s co-driver title went to Sara Fernández. Partnering with Efrén Llarena in a Rally Team Spain’s ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, she became the first-ever woman to take the title.
At the national level, ŠKODA Motorsport customer teams won championships in Europe, South America, the Middle East, and Australia. The rally car from Mladá Boleslav proved its versatility by dominating pure asphalt series, such as the Swiss Championship, as well as winning championships on snow, ice and smooth gravel, for instance, in Finland. They also won extremely tough special stages on gravel, for example in Argentina. ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 or ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo drivers delivered particularly strong performances in Italy this year, where they not only won the main title but also the two separate championships on asphalt and gravel. Another outstanding achievement was the eighth title in the Czech Republic for ŠKODA Motorsport test driver Jan Kopecký, competing for the dealer team Agrotec ŠKODA Rally Team.
ŠKODA Motorsport continued its tradition of supporting young drivers in the 2021 season. As Andreas Mikkelsen’s teammate in Toksport WRT, 21-year-old Bolivian Marco Bulacia, gained experience in the WRC and ERC. He finished fourth overall in the WRC2 drivers’ standings and was also named the best young driver of the 2021 season. Dominik Stříteský, also 21, caused a stir in his first year at the wheel of a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, finishing fifth overall in the Czech championship. With the support of ŠKODA Motorsport, he also got the chance to gain his first WRC-level experience at Rally Spain in the Toksport WRT team.
Over the past seven years, drivers with ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 and ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo have achieved more than 1,500 rally victories and over 3,700 podium positions since 2015. In the 2021 season alone, the car with all-wheel drive and a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine won more than 20 championship titles. It is therefore by far the most successful car of its group, as evidenced by the number of cars sold, which stands at more than 440.
And how does the head of ŠKODA Motorsport Michal Hrabánek see the 2021 season? Find out in the following interview.
Mr Hrabánek, ŠKODA Motorsport rolled out a new strategy in the 2021 season. You directly supported the private team Toksport WRT. Are you happy with the result?
Absolutely. With our new strategy, we decided to focus even more on our customer teams. We chose Toksport WRT because the team started with a good combination of an experienced driver, the Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen, and a talented up-and-comer, Marco Bulacia from Bolivia. Mikkelsen won the WRC2 drivers’ classification of the FIA World Rally Championship at the wheel of the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo. Bulacia made considerable progress and delivered some strong results. Even Movisport, who won the WRC2 Teams’ Championship, put their faith in the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, especially during the second half of the season. So, we had a hand in two titles in the WRC2 category – another great season for ŠKODA Motorsport.
What did your support of the Toksport WRT team involve exactly?
ŠKODA Motorsport was present at each WRC2 round with two engineers and mechanics dedicated to Toksport WRT. And of course, we shared our data from previous years with the team’s technicians.
But you supported the other customer teams, as well?
Of course. We sent a specially equipped ŠKODA Motorsport parts truck to selected rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship. So, our customer teams had the chance to get all the essential parts to keep the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo running, for example, after an accident. By the way, this truck was on duty during selected rounds of the FIA European Rally Championship, as well.
That’s a good keyword. ŠKODA Motorsport was also involved in European title.
Andreas Mikkelsen won the drivers’ title of the FIA European Rally Championship, again at the wheel of a ŠKODA FABIA Rally 2 evo entered by Toksport WRT. In this series, Toksport WRT also managed to win the teams’ title.
Could you give us an overview of where ŠKODA Motorsport customer teams have won national championships?
The season has come to a close all over the world, so the outcomes of the various championships have been decided. ŠKODA drivers won titles in countries as far afield as Argentina, Australia and Russia. In total, our customer teams won more than 20 titles.
ŠKODA Motorsport’s support for the development of a fully electric variant of the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo is an entirely new project. What is the strategy behind it?
Various levels of electrification play an increasing role not only in road cars but also in motorsport, as well. At ŠKODA Motorsport, we have to prepare for these changes. When we were offered the chance to develop a fully electric rally car in partnership with Kreisel Electric and Baumschlager Rallye Racing, we jumped at it. We adapted the body, chassis and suspension of a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo to the requirements of the electric drive system. The prototype, called ŠKODA RE-X1 Kreisel, can be configured for both rallies and rallycross competitions with an output of 260 to over 500 kW. The car was very impressive in its first races.
What are your plans for the 2022 season?
We have another very busy year ahead. In the FIA World Rally Championship, we will continue to support Toksport WRT directly and all customer teams with the dedicated spare parts service on location. We will also be sending our support truck to selected rounds of the FIA European Rally Championship.
2021 was the seventh season for the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2. How is business with this car evolving?
To date, we have sold more than 440 units of the various ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 versions. The car is by far the bestseller in its group.
Videos of the new generation ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 are all over the internet. Can you reveal some details about the new car?
Obviously, the new generation ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 is based on the new generation production model. So, we are in the process of designing a completely new rally car, which is always a big challenge. For example, the new generation of the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 features a completely new chassis and drivetrain.
When will the new generation ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 be ready for action?
We haven’t fixed a date yet. But we are aiming for summer 2022.
Championships won by ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 and ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo in 2021
FIA World Rally Championship
WRC2 Drivers: Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway)
FIA European Rally Championship
Drivers: Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway)
Co-Drivers: Sara Fernández (Spain)
Teams: Toksport WRT (Germany)
Argentina: Alejandro Cancio
Australia: John O’Dowd
Austria: Simon Wagner
Barbados: Stuart Maloney
Belgium: Adrian Fernémont
Bolivia: Roberto Saba
Bulgaria: Miroslav Angelov
Chile: Jorge Martinez Fontena
Czech Republic: Jan Kopecký
Finland: Emil Lindholm
Italy: Giandomenico Basso
Lebanon: Roger Feghali
Luxembourg: Steve Fernandes
Poland: Mikolaj Marczyk
Portugal: Riccardo Teodósio
Romania: Simone Tempestini
Russia: Igor Bulantsev
Slovakia: Grzegorz Grzyb
Spain: José Antonio Suárez
Switzerland: Mike Coppens
Turkey: Burak Cukurova