› After multiple asphalt stage class wins at Rallye Monte-Carlo and WRC2 victory at full-snow Rally Sweden, new Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 faces world championship debut on yet another type of surface
› Driving a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 of team Toksport WRT, Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (SWE/GBR) target second WRC2 victory in a row
› Defending WRC2 champions Emil Lindholm and Reeta Hämäläinen (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) from Finland also among favourites for WRC2 victory at third round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
› First WRC event for Gus Greensmith (GBR) and new co-driver Jonas Andersson (SWE) with the Toksport WRT run Škoda Fabia RS Rally2
Mladá Boleslav, 15 March 2023 – On the back of the first WRC2 victory for the all-new Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 at Rally Sweden, Oliver Solberg and co-driver Elliott Edmondson target another top result at Guanajuato Rally México (16-19 March 2023). Following Rallye Monte-Carlo with asphalt roads in the French Alps and Rally Sweden in wintry Scandinavia, the third round of the 2023 season will be the first FIA World Rally Championship event on gravel for the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2.
Two events into the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 already has set his mark. Crews relying on the all-new Rally2 car from Mladá Boleslav scored fastest times of its class on 16 of the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo’s 18 stages. The following WRC event in Sweden, Oliver Solberg and co-driver Elliott Edmondson of team Toksport WRT scored the first WRC2 victory for the new car. At the upcoming Guanajuato Rally México, the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 has to face again a new challenge: gravel stages, some of them even climbing to an altitude way above the 2,000 metres mark.
In the past, Guanajuato Rally México often was a good hunting ground for the Škoda Fabia Rally2 and the successor model Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo. Pontus Tidemand from Sweden won the car’s category in 2017, 2018 and 2020. Local hero Benito Guerra jr. had the edge in 2019, while Teemu Suninen from Finland was victorious in 2016. After a two years break due to the pandemic, the only North American round of the FIA World Rally Championship is back. And now it’s the turn of the new Škoda Fabia RS Rally2.
Oliver Solberg travels to Léon, the rally’s hub some 400 kilometres northwest of México City, with the tailwind of a commanding WRC2 victory at Rally Sweden. It’s the second Mexican adventure for the 21 years old son of former world champion Petter Solberg, although he didn’t reach the finish in 2020. “Thus, I unfortunately know most of the special stages only from recce. But after extensive gravel testing with the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, I am very confident for another top result,” says Solberg Junior, who for the moment shares the WRC2 overall lead equal on points with Yohan Rossel from France.
Reigning WRC2 champion Emil Lindholm and co-driver Reeta Hämäläinen are entering new territory – the two Finns have never competed before in México. After a frustrating Rally Sweden, where a time-consuming detour into a snow wall led to only seventh position in WRC2, the mixed team targets to re-start its mission title defence. “I have put Rally Sweden behind me. Our goal is to score as many points as possible,” emphasises Lindholm. At Guanajuato Rally México, he is at the wheel of Toksport WRT’s trusted Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo.
In contrast to Solberg and Lindholm, Gus Greensmith is new to Toksport WRT and the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. At least, with already 71 WRC starts under his belt he knows the rally from two participations in the past. Actually, Greensmith has been on the WRC2 podium at Rally México 2018. He made himself familiar with the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 during a gravel test in Portugal. “It’s been clear for the last few years that Toksport WRT and Škoda have been the ones to beat in WRC2. With Škoda bringing out the new Fabia RS Rally2, it really wasn’t a difficult decision to make. I felt right at home in the car. It felt so easy to drive!” the Briton said. Of significant help at his first WRC event of 2023 should be his new co-driver Jonas Andersson: The Swedish veteran of 177 WRC starts was sitting next to Škoda driver Pontus Tidemand, when he won WRC2 at Guanajuato Rally México in 2017 and 2018.
Another driver, who has voluntarily skipped the first two WRC2 events of the year, is Kajetan Kajetanowicz. The 2022 WRC2 third overall and co-driver Maciej Szczepaniak compete in México for the second time. The Polish crew of ORLEN Rally Team will once again rely on the proven Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo model. In total, eleven of the 15 cars entered into the RC2 class are Škoda Fabia.
Guanajuato Rally México kicks off on Thursday (16 March, 7:55 pm local time) with a spectacular ceremonial start in the historic centre of Guanajuato, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The show is followed by a 1.12-kilometres stage run twice through the streets of the former silver rush town. Parts of the stage lead through the tunnels of a disused mine. The service park “Rally Campus” is located on the fair grounds of Léon, a city with roughly 1.6 million inhabitants. On Friday, eight special stages covering 128 kilometres of rough gravel await the teams. The longest stage of the rally, the 31.45 kilometres of “El Chocolate”, climbs to an altitude of more than 2,700 metres above sea level. On Saturday and Sunday, thirteen special stages over another 189.98 kilometres including the final Power Stage “El Brinco” are on the agenda. The winner is expected on the podium in Léon at around 2:30 pm.
Did you know, that...
...Rally México was held for the first time in 1979 before it was added to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar in 2004 as Guanajuato Rally México?
...Guanajuato Rally México in 2020 was the last WRC round to be held before a five-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
…at its highest point, the route reaches 2,737 metres above sea level? The lower air pressure and reduced oxygen level at this altitude results in a power loss of up to 20 per cent for the rally car’s engines.
...the winners of the rally usually receive original cowboy boots in addition to the trophies?
Top-3 WRC2/Drivers (before Guanajuato Rally México)
1. Yohan Rossel (FRA), (Citroën), 28 points
Oliver Solberg (SWE), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, 28 points
3. Nikolay Gryazin (ANA), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, 20 points
Top-3 WRC2/Teams (before Guanajuato Rally México)
1. Toksport WRT 2 (Škoda), 40 points
Toksport WRT (Škoda), 40 points
3. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, 30 points
2023 FIA World Rally Championship
|19 - 22 January
|9 - 12 February
|Guanajuato Rally México
|16 - 19 March
|20 - 23 April
|Rally de Portugal
|11 - 14 May
|Rally Italia Sardinia
|1 - 4 June
|Safari Rally Kenya
|22 - 25 June
|20 - 23 July
|3 - 6 August
|Acropolis Rally Greece
|7 - 10 September
|28 September-1 October
|Central Europe Rally(CZE/AUT/DEU)
|26 - 29 October
|16 - 19 November