› Competing for the first time with a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, Spanish duo Pepe López/David Vázquez finishes second in WRC2 at the FIA World Rally Championship’s opening round.
› Italians Mauro Miele and co-driver Luca Beltrame (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) win WRC Masters Cup classification.
› Not registered to score WRC2 points, Oliver Solberg and navigator Elliott Edmondson (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) are among the fastest crews in Rally2 class.
Monte-Carlo, 28 January 2024 – Pepe López/David Vázquez drove a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 to second place in WRC2 at Rallye Monte-Carlo (25-28 January 2024), first round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). The Spanish crew was fastest of the category on eight the event’s 17 stages during their very first WRC event with the Rally2 car from Mladá Boleslav.
Pepe López has won the Rally Superchampionship of his home country Spain already three times. Starting into his first full WRC2 season, the 28-year-old driver from Madrid changed car and co-driver. David Vázquez took over the hot seat in the Mapo Motorsport run Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. But the newly formed crew started into Rallye Monte-Carlo like they had been together already for years.
From the first stage on, López/Vázquez traded fastest WRC2 stage times with experienced duo Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov. Until Sunday morning, the lead changed an incredible eight times between both crews. The Spaniards were on top after the two night stages on Thursday. On Friday evening, Gryazin/Aleksandrov had the upper hand with not more than 1.3 seconds. After the next 24 hours of this gripping duel and additional 106 kilometres of competition, López/Vázquez had reduced the gap to 0.2 seconds.
And all of a sudden, a third crew entered the fight for WRC2 victory. Yohan Rossel/Arnaud Dunand from France had experienced a decent start into the rally, but significantly increased their speed over the course of Saturday. At the leg’s finish, Rossel/Dunand trailed the WRC2 leaders by 6.9 seconds.
The French duo started into the final leg with two fastest WRC2 stage times, taking 12.5 seconds out of Gryazin/Aleksandrov, who had dropped to third. With only the Powerstage to run, López/Vázquez were back in the WRC2 lead just 0.9 seconds ahead of Rossel/Dunand. But the season opener’s last 14.8 kilometres confirmed: Last year’s WRC2 winner at Rallye Monte-Carlo definitely had found his rhythm: Rossel/Dunand arrived on top of the famous Col de Turini 4.9 seconds faster than anybody else, snatching away the category victory from López/Vázquez on the very last stage.
"Satisfied? No,” Pepe López commented. “We fought a lot to win this rally. We did our best. Let's see what this year brings us.” Small consolidation: The convincing speed of the Spanish Škoda crew was rewarded with the “FORUM8 WRC2 Most Stage Wins Award”.
Not registered in WRC2 for Rallye Monte-Carlo, Oliver Solberg from Sweden and British co-driver Elliott Edmondson were fighting for a top position in Rally2 class during the Friday loop. But the crew of Škoda Motorsport supported team Toksport WRT was halted by two punctures after stage 10. “We chose to carry only one spare tyre. Sadly, this means we have to stop for the day,“ 22-year-old Solberg explained. He started again for the final leg. Despite being fastest Rally2 crew on four of the 17 stages, the Swedish-British duo finished way down the order.
The WRC Masters Cup, reserved for drivers of 50 years and older, was a walk in the park for Mauro Miele and co-driver Luca Beltrame. Sharing a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 of team Dream One, the Italians led from start to finish eventually winning with a margin of more than nine minutes.
Next round of the FIA World Rally Championship is Rally Sweden (15-18 February 2024). On the snowy and icy stages in the Umeå region, Toksport WRT’s Oliver Solberg and co-driver Elliott Edmondson start their bid for the WRC2 title.
Number of the rally: 8
At the finish of Rallye Monte-Carlo, Pepe López and co-driver David Vázquez received the inaugural “FORUM8 WRC2 Most Stage Wins Award”. The Mapo Motorsport run Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 was fastest of the category on eight of the event’s 17 stages.
Rallye Monte-Carlo, 25-28 January 2024, Result WRC2
1 Yohan Rossel/Arnaud Dunand (FRA/FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2, 3:20:00.7 hours
2 Pepe López/David Vázquez (ESP/ESP), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, +4.0 seconds
3 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (BGR/ANA), Citroën C3 Rally2, +15.4 seconds
4 Nicolas Ciamin/Yannick Roche (FRA/FRA), Hyundai i20 N Rally2, +4:14.3 minutes
5 Stéphane Lefebvre/Andy Malfoy (FRA/FRA), Toyota GR Yaris Rally2, +5:58.5 minutes
6 Jan Solans/Rodrigo Sanjuan de Eusebio (ESP/ESP), Toyota GR Yaris Rally2, +9:13.5 minutes