ŠKODA Motorsport goes into the 2016 WRC2 Championship with great expectations of building on our success last year, when we won the WRC2 Team Championship with a maximum 175 points from the seven races we entered.

The ŠKODA Motorsport works team doesn’t get going until the second event of the season at the Rally of Sweden, but there will still be plenty of ŠKODA Fabia R5s taking on the challenges of the Rallye Monte Carlo.

Official ŠKODA driver, Esapekka Lappi, along with his co-driver Janne Ferm, will be on the start line in a Fabia R5 prepared by the Baumschlager Rallye & Racing (BRR) team. Esapekka is raring to go and keen to learn more about this rally and get some experience behind the wheel as he looks to improve on his third place in the WRC2 Drivers Championship last year.

BRRs regular drivers Armin Kremer and Pirmin Winklhofer will also be taking on the unique challenges of the opening round of the WRC season in a Fabia R5. Armin, co-driven by Klaus Wicha, finished third in the WRC2 classification here last year and will be hoping to use the knowledge gained from that success to improve his final position this time round.

As will Team Orecas’ Finnish pairing of Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula, who won the final round of last season’s WRC2 Championship, the Wales Rally GB, in a Fabia S2000 for the TGS Worldwide team. Team Oreca have moved over to the Fabia R5 this year as they look to improve on their fifth place finish in the Team standings last year, and they have calculated that the Fabia R5 gives them the best chance to achieve that.

Meanwhile WRC2 Championship debutants Hubert Ptaszek and co-driver Kamil Kozdroń, both from Poland, will also be running a Fabia R5 in their Team Ptock. They will be joining the Greek pairing of Lambros Athanassoulas and Nikos Zakheos who are running in WRC2 and Greek rally championships this year in a Fabia R5.

French driver Julien Maurin will also be behind the wheel of a ŠKODA Fabia R5 in Monte Carlo alongside his co-driver Benjamin Veillas. They will be also joined on the start-line by French compatriots Matthieu Margaillan and Jérôme Degout.

Of course the legendary Rallye Monte Carlo also draws plenty of independent drivers keen to pit themselves against the races’ unique challenges. We are delighted that a number of those drivers, including Gianluca Maria Cali, Maximilian Koch, Tiziano Gecchele, and Christophe Ganguet will also be running ŠKODA Fabias, albeit it will be the elder Fabia S2000 specification in their case.

Here at ŠKODA, we will of course be analyzing the results and the performance of all these drivers and their cars to inform the development and set-up of our own works team ahead of what promises to be a hugely exciting, and we believe, rewarding season for ŠKODA Fabia R5.