An early victory for the Fabia R5 in Romania, more success in South America and a first-place finish in the forests of Ireland are highlights of a great weekend, as new drivers queue up for the new ŠKODA Fabia R5.

Sibiu Rally sees maiden ŠKODA Fabia R5 win on Romanian soil

Dan Gîrtofan and co-driver Tudor Mârza tasted victory for the first time this year in the second round of the Romanian Rally Championship at the Sibiu Rally. Their success also marked a first ever victory in Romania for ŠKODA Fabia R5.

Driving for the ŠKODA Romania Motorsport team, they improved on their second-place finish at the Brasov Rally, the opening round of the season, by dominating this rally from start to finish as they cruised to victory by a margin of 1 minute and 11 seconds.

“This is a success that we wanted very badly and even from the shakedown we were feeling good. After building a strong lead, it can be hard to compete without any pressure, and it is easy to make mistakes when you think that nobody is breathing down your neck,” said an elated Dan Gîrtofan at the finish. “But we managed to score some very good times without taking any unnecessary risks and in the end we are delighted with the win, and looking forward to continuing our momentum into the next rally.”

The next round of the Romanian Rally Championship is the Arad Rally, which will take place on the 13th and 14th May.

Fabian Kreim/Frank Christian, ŠKODA Fabia R5, ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland. Hessen Rallye Vogelsberg 2016
Fabian Kreim/Frank Christian, ŠKODA Fabia R5, ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland. Hessen Rallye Vogelsberg 2016

Great effort but bad luck for Fabian Kreim in the Vogelsberg mountains

This weekend saw the second round of the German Rally Championship, the Hessen Rallye Vogelsberg, which took place on the tarmac roads in and around the town of Schlitz in the Hessen region of Germany.

All eyes were on talented young German driver Fabian Kreim, who came into this event off the back of victory in the opening round of German Rally Championship, Saarland-Pfalz Rallye, and a superb second place in the Lavanttal Rallye in Austria last weekend.

Driving alongside experienced co-driver Frank Christain for the ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland team, Kreim was expected to set the pace, and he did, leading for the opening five stages before disaster struck in the sixth, and a mistake led to a damage of the car which forced his retirement.

“Sorry to all the team for the gaffe. We had the car and the speed to win here, which makes it all the more disappointing to have failed. We are now even more motivated for the next event,” said Fabian Kreim after the event.

It was not all bad news for ŠKODA at the event though as German driver Dominik Dinkel, alongside co-driver Christina Kohl, finished in a fantastic second place for the Brose Motorsport team, driving a Fabia S2000.

For Kreim, the next stop in his busy schedule is the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship and the Rally of Whangarei in New Zealand. Meanwhile the next round of the German Rally Championship is the Rund um die Sulinger Bärenklaue on the 6th and 7th May.

Desi Henry/Liam Moynihan, ŠKODA Fabia R5. Moonraker Forestry Rally 2016
Desi Henry/Liam Moynihan, ŠKODA Fabia R5. Moonraker Forestry Rally 2016

Desi Henry’s luck turns with win at Moonraker Forestry Rally

The Moonraker Forestry Rally was the second round of the Irish National Forest Rally Championship and took place around the small town of Ballyvourney, in south-west County Cork. It took place on 16th April and comprised of 8 special stages and around 60 competitive kilometers.
This year’s event saw 82 cars participating and was dominated by Desi Henry and co-driver Liam Moynihan in their ŠKODA Fabia R5 from start to finish. Desi has had some bad luck behind the wheel of the ŠKODA so far, but that ended in categorical fashion here as he drove a fast, composed rally and won all eight stages to finish 1 minute and 27 seconds ahead of the field.

“We got a new set up from ŠKODA for the gravel and it worked well from the offset. We developed it throughout the event, setting fastest stage times on every stage, to score an excellent victory and more importantly get a set up on gravel for the next round of the British championship,” said Desi Henry after his victory. “The car never missed a beat all day and the stages were smooth, fast and very enjoyable. Hopefully the Moonraker is the start of a change of fortune this year after a mixed start to the rally season.”

The next round of the Irish National Forest Rally Championship is the Tour of the Sperrins which takes place on 7th May, while the next outing for Desi Henry will be the Pirelli Carlisle Rally in the British Championship, which takes place from 29th April to 1st May.

Australian Scott Pedder to join four rounds of WRC2 in a ŠKODA Fabia R5

Australian rally driver Scott Pedder has announced plans to join the 2016 World Rally Championship in a ŠKODA Fabia R5. Pedder will be joined in the car by his regular co-driver Dale Moscatt. The pair, who won the Australian Rally Championship in 2014, have announced plans to take part in four rounds of the WRC, starting with the Rally Portugal which begins on 19th May. They will also participate in the Poland, Finland, and, of course, Australia.

Thomas Preston/Jack Morton, ŠKODA Fabia R5, Hippo Rally Team. Somerset Stages 2016
Thomas Preston/Jack Morton, ŠKODA Fabia R5, Hippo Rally Team. Somerset Stages 2016

Hippo Rally Team’s new ŠKODA Fabia R5 impresses on debut outing

The 16th of April saw the latest running of the Somerset Stages, a British Trial Drivers Association (BTRDA) event, which is used by a number of British and Irish teams as preparation for events in the British Rally Championship. It is gravel event which takes place over 60 competitive kilometers and 13 special stages, around the town of Minehead and on the edges of Exmoor National Park.

This year’s event saw the Hippo Rally Team of Thomas Preston and co-driver Jack Morton taking part in their brand new ŠKODA Fabia R5 car. And the acquitted themselves admirably in what was their first outing in the car, securing top five times on six separate stages, as they finished seventh overall.

They will no doubt be hoping for more success as they become more acquainted with the vehicle, but confidence is clearly high, as they have also announced plans to run the vehicle in the remaining rounds of the British Rally Championship. They will be driving in the colors of the CA1 Team alongside current CA1 ŠKODA driver David Bogie.

“Our plans are to contest the rest of the British Rally Championship, and as many rounds of the BTRDA as we can,” said Tom Preston. “I need as much seat time in the ŠKODA Fabia R5 as I can get, because without the active differentials and things like that it’s a very different car to drive than my previous one. I really need to do more rallies so that I can be competitive in the BRC. This year is going to be a learning year in a new car, as we prepare for big push next year.”

Their first MSA BRC event will be the Pirelli Carlisle Rally which takes place on 29th April.

Gustavo Saba/Fernando Zuleta, ŠKODA Fabia R5, Saba Competicion. Súper Prime de Carapeguá 2016. Photo: Jorge Basualdo
Gustavo Saba/Fernando Zuleta, ŠKODA Fabia R5, Saba Competicion. Súper Prime de Carapeguá 2016. Photo: Jorge Basualdo

Saba strolls to another Super Prime victory in Paraguay

Gustavo Saba and his co-driver Fernando Zuleta continued their fine start to the Súper Prime Championship in Paraguay in the ŠKODA Fabia R5, by chalking up a third victory in three rallies at the Súper Prime de Carapeguá.

Saba, who has to date had less luck in the Paraguayan Rally Championship, completely dominated the 50km gravel event, which took place in the city of Carapeguá, about 100km from the Paraguayan capital Asuncion. He won all six special stages to win by 2 minutes and 13 seconds, and cement his place at the top of the championship with a maximum 105 points won so far.

“It’s always good to have these kinds of results. Our ŠKODA Fabia R5 has worked well and we have not had any drama. While our goal is still trying to compete at the top of our national championship and CODASUR, we will also continue to push hard to win in this championship as well,” said Gustavo Saba after his success.

Saba’s next event will be the Rally de Caaguazú, in the Paraguay Rally Championships on 27th May.

Miguel Barbosa/Miguel Ramalho, ŠKODA Fabia R5, BP Ultimate ŠKODA Team. Rali Serras de Fafe 2016
Miguel Barbosa/Miguel Ramalho, ŠKODA Fabia R5, BP Ultimate ŠKODA Team. Rali Serras de Fafe 2016

Three drivers entered with the ŠKODA Fabia R5 cars for Rali de Castelo Branco

The Rali de Castelo Branco, which takes place on 23rd and 24th April, will be the second round of the Portuguese Rally Championship. Taking place in and around the town of Castel Branco in the east of Portugal, this event is two-day rally, comprising of 9 special stages, and just under 120km of competitive rallying.

The first round of this championship, the Rali Serras de Fafe, proved to be highly successful for ŠKODA Fabia R5 drivers with Pedro Meireles and Mário Castro coming home in second place and Miguel Campos and Carlos Magalhães just behind them in third spot.  With Miguel Barbosa and Miguel Ramalho only a couple of places further down the field in fifth, the stage is set for an extremely interesting Portuguese championship for all the ŠKODA drivers.

French Tarmac Championship continues with Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières – Rhône

The French Tarmac Rally Championship continues on 22nd and 23rd April with the Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières – Rhône. This event, which consists of 14 special stages and just over 212 km of competitive rallying, takes place around city of Lyon in the east of France.

Well over 100 vehicles are registered to take part in the rally, including two ŠKODA Fabia R5 cars. For the 2C Competition team French driver Sylvain Michel, alongside his Belgian co-driver Lara Vanneste, will be pushing hard to improve on their third place finish in the opening round of the championship, Rallye Le Touquet – Pas-de-Calais.

Meanwhile, Pierre Roché, supported by co-driver Martine Roché, will be driving for Team FJ Elf. Roché finished just off the podium in 4th place in the previous round of the championship and will be hoping to go at least one better this time round.