There are only few international rallies connected so closely with ŠKODA cars like Wales Rally GB. Over the last four decades they attended this event very regularly and scored great results not only in their classes, but also in overall classification.
Tradition of the British rally dates back to 1932 when the first annual competition known as the RAC rally took place. British event is a part of the World Rally Championship since its inaugural season in 1973 and traditionally it is the final event of the season. Therefore, it has been title decider many times.
The cars from Mladá Boleslav are firmly connected with this rally thanks to the support and interest of ŠKODA UK importer. ŠKODA cars have won British Rally in their classes since the 1970s.
John Haugland won his class three times in a row (1975 to 1977). In 1975, famed Norwegian triumphed with ŠKODA 130 S and in 1976 a 1977 he scored other two victories with legendary ŠKODA 130 RS. That car won also in 1978 in its class thanks to Czech crew Svatopluk Kvaizar/Jiří Kotek.
However, John Haugland does not belong only to the legends of the history of the ŠKODA motorsport activities, but he also indelibly influenced the history of the British rally. Besides the trophies, won in the 1970s, he earned few more over the following decade. He won his class with different cars like ŠKODA 120 LS (1981), ŠKODA 130 LR (1985) and ŠKODA 130 L (1988). He has 16 starts and 6 class wins on RAC Rally on his belt.
In 1980s, the ŠKODA brand image on the British Islands had been boosted also by other class victories of Austrian Gerhard Kalnay (1982) and Czech driver Ladislav Křeček (1983 and 1986).
ŠKODA Favorit 136L started to write a new chapter in the late 1980s and 1990s. Pavel Sibera/Petr Gross won the N1 class in 1989, but in following years Favorit predominated mainly the A5 class when it was not beaten four times in a row. Sibera/Gross scored another three wins (1991, 1992, 1994) and in 1993 the victory belonged to their teammates Emil Triner and Jiří Klíma.
The RAC Rally in 1996 ended with a great success for ŠKODA. Former World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist co-driven by Benny Melander won with ŠKODA Felicia Kit Car in W2L category of World Rally Championship and they also finished third in overall classification. This is the best result of ŠKODA cars in the British Rally up to this day.
Unforgettable is also the performance of the crew Bruno Thiry/Stéphane Prévot in Rally of Great Britain 1999. Although it was his first rally with ŠKODA Octavia WRC car, Belgian driver finished fourth overall and gained extremely valuable points for the team. It was the maiden season for ŠKODA Motorsport team in the prestigious WRC category and the result, gained by Thiry/Prévot on the final round of the season, was a great boost for the team and its fans.
But Stig Blomqvist was not the only world champion who drove one of the ŠKODA cars in the British rally. Scottish legend Colin McRae started in 2005 with Fabia WRC and triple world champion Sébastien Ogier took part in the Wales Rally GB 2012 with Fabia S2000.
Wales Rally GB 2015 starts on Thursday 12 November. In the entry list can be found three ŠKODA Fabia R5 cars entered by customer teams and two proven but still reliable and fast Fabia S2000 cars.