› On its first gravel event in the FIA World Rally Championship, new Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 wins WRC2
› Sharing a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 of team Toksport WRT, Briton Gus Greensmith and co-driver Jonas Andersson from Sweden start WRC2 campaign with convincing category victory
› Defending WRC2 Champions Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) finish second of the category at Mexican debut
› After losing nearly two minutes due to a puncture, Oliver Solberg and co-driver Elliott Edmondson (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) fight back to third position in WRC2
Léon (MEX), 20 March 2023 – Five weeks after its maiden WRC2 victory at Rally Sweden, the new Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 also won the category at the first gravel event of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Briton Gus Greensmith and co-driver Jonas Andersson from Sweden celebrated from the top spot of the Guanajuato Rally México podium. Especially remarkable: The third round of the 2023 season was the first ever WRC event for Gus Greensmith both at the wheel of a Škoda and also with Swedish co-driver Jonas Andersson.
Guanajuato Rally México was the third WRC round for the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. Reaching altitudes of 2,700 metres and consisting of stages covered with rough gravel and even rocks, the event presented again a new challenge for the latest Rally2 car from the Czech manufacturer. Team Toksport WRT brought two Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 for Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (GBR/SWE) and Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (SWE/GBR) to Léon. Of the 19 stages actually contested by the WRC2 competitors, these two crews were fastest on 13 of them. The six remaining stage wins – including the power stage rewarded with three extra points – went to defending WRC2 champions Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen. Due to the complex logistics of shipping the rally cars to North America, the two Finns relied on a predecessor model Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo also run by team Toksport WRT.
Not only was the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 relatively new to Gus Greensmith. He knew the car only from a test session and a local rally in Portugal. The 26-year-old Londoner, who last year drove one of the much more powerful Rally1 cars, also had to get accustomed to Swedish co-driver Jonas Andersson. It didn’t take too long for newly formed crew. Greensmith/Andersson took the lead after stage 6 and stayed there for the rest of the 23 speed tests. "The whole rally was under control for me. When we needed to go faster, we could gap everyone. After that it was just about controlling it and not making any mistakes. It's the perfect way to start the year,“ Greensmith commented, who voluntarily had skipped the first two WRC rounds. The British-Swedish duo even finished sixth overall – another remarkable achievement for a WRC2 competitor.
Despite being new to the Mexican WRC event, Emil Lindholm and co-driver Reeta Hämäläinen took the early lead. On Thursday, they won both the spectacular flood-lid asphalt stages through – and in parts under – the historic city centre of Guanajuato. Lindholm managed to defend the lead during the first gravel stages on Friday morning. But after the service break, he somehow lost his momentum while team mate Gus Greensmith seemed to shift up a gear.
At this point, Oliver Solberg fought with Ford driver Adrien Fourmaux for second place in WRC2. In stage 8, Solberg damaged a tyre of his Toksport WRT run Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 and lost nearly two minutes. With a string of fastest stage times of the category, Solberg and British co-driver Elliott Edmondson climbed back to fourth position during the Saturday leg. Meanwhile, Lindholm/Hämäläinen were comfortably third.
But the duel for second and third spot on the podium was not yet settled. When Adrien Fourmaux, running in second for most of the rally, was delayed by a technical issue in stage 21, the full Škoda podium was perfect.
Lindholm/Hämäläinen reached the finish 32.9 seconds shy of Greensmith/Andersson. “We did what we wanted. But we have to be honest: It was more or less because the other drivers had problems. At least good points for the championship and many lessons learnt,“ Lindholm said. In the end, the danger of being overtaken by Solberg faded away. “Unfortunately, we encountered an engine issue after running over a big rock in the middle of the road. Thus, we couldn’t fight for second position anymore,” Solberg explained at the finish of the penultimate stage. “But P3 is great for the championship anyway,” he added at the finish. And right he was: Third position was enough for the 21-year-old son of former FIA World Rally Champion Petter Solberg to advance to the overall lead in the WRC2 Drivers’ championship.
Actually, the final WRC2 results even displayed a Škoda 1-2-3-4. Fourth place went to Kajetan Kajetanowicz and co-driver Maciej Szczepaniak from Poland in ORLEN Rally Team’s Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo.
Next stop for the WRC2 competitors is the first pure asphalt event of the season, Rally Croatia (20-24 April 2023) taking place on the roads close to the country’s capital Zagreb.
Guanajuato Rally México, 16-19 March 2023, Result WRC2
|1||Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (GBR/SWE)||Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||3:28:40.9 hours|
|2||Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen (FIN/FIN)||Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||+32.9 seconds|
|3||Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (SWE/GBR)||Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||+1:06.2 minutes|
|4||Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak (POL/POL)||Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||+3:25.1 minutes|
|5||Martin Prokop/Michal Ernst (CZE/CZE)||Ford Fiesta MkII Rally2||+6:24.4 minutes|
|6||Jorge Fontena Martinez/Alberto Alvarez Nicholson (CHL/ARG)||Škoda Fabia Rally2||+15:35.4 minutes|
Number of the rally: 19
Three Škoda crews dominated WRC2: Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson, Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen and Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson won all of the 19 stages actually competed by the WRC2 field.