Podiums in Brazil and Romania as ŠKODA drivers continue to compete well in CODASUR and Romanian championships.
Gustavo Saba surges to second in Erechim as bad weather prevents Marcos Ligato from participating
The second round of the CODASUR Rally Championships took place last weekend in Brazil with the Rally Internacional de Erechim. This gravel event took place over 3 days and consisted of around 160 km of competitive distance divided to 13 special stages around the Brazilian city of Erechim.
This year’s event saw a fierce battle at the top of the field between Paraguayan ŠKODA Fabia R5 driver Gustavo Saba (title photo above), along with his Argentinian co-driver Leonardo Suaya, and their close rival Diego Dominguez. Dominguez and Saba have both won this event three times previously, with Dominguez taking the win in each of the last two years.
Saba, driving for his own Saba Competicion team, held the lead for a good while at the start of the rally, helped by an early penalty for Dominguez. But despite driving a controlled, smart and extremely fast rally, he eventually had to settle for second place.
It was originally expected that there would be a second ŠKODA Fabia R5 starting this event, with Marcos Ligato due to compete as Saba’s team-mate. But he found himself stranded in Cordoba, Argentina, after bad weather prevented his flight from taking off, and so sadly wasn’t able to take part.
The next round of the CODASUR Championship, the Rally de Catamarca, will take place in Argentina from 10th to 12th June.
Podiums for Rashid Al-Ketbi and Dan Gîrtofan at Arad Rally
The Arad Rally, which took place in Romania this weekend, was both the third round of the Romanian Rally Championship and the opening round of the TER (Tour European Rally) Series. The gravel event, which consisted of 11 stages and 137 km of competitive distance, saw two ŠKODA Fabia R5 cars taking part and both performed exceptionally well.
UAE driver Rashid Al-Ketbi and his German co-driver Karina Hepperle particularly excelled. They were making their debut in a ŠKODA Fabia R5 and took it to a remarkable second place overall and second in the TER Series standings as well.
They edged the other ŠKODA Fabia R5 pairing of Romanians Dan Gîrtofan and co-driver Tudor Mârza into third overall and in the TER standings. But with Al-Ketbi not participating in the Romanian Rally Championship, they achieved second place in that competition.
Both had to cope with challenging conditions as rain made the gravel surface slippery and finding grip was a huge problem throughout the two-day event.
“It was one of the most difficult gravel rallies of my career because of the weather,” said Dan Gîrtofan afterwards. “In these conditions, our target was to keep close to our rival and we are very happy that we achieved this. We are glad that we finished second and we are still in the race to win the championship.”
The next round of the Romanian Rally Championship, the Rally Deltai Dunarii, takes place from 9th to 11th June, while the TER Series continues with the Rali Vinho de Madeira in Portugal from 4th to 6th August.
NEWS IN BRIEF
Efrem Bianco/Dino Lamonato took part in the Rally 1000 Miglia in Italy last weekend driving a DP Autosport-run ŠKODA Fabia R5 in the colors of Scuderia Palladio. In their first event in the car they drove well to finish 5th in the Group R category. *** Tomáš Kukučka/Peter Vejačka finished in a solid fifth place in a KL Racing Team’s ŠKODA Fabia R5 at the Rally Vyškov in Czech Republic. *** Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke has announced that he plans to return to regular rallying this season, driving a Wevers Sport-run ŠKODA Fabia R5 in six events, including the WRC rallies in Germany and Spain. *** Greek driver Diamantis Tzampazis will also participate in the German and Spanish WRC rounds in a ŠKODA Fabia R5, as well as two events in Italy. He will be driving for the TRT Racing Team.
COMING UP THIS WEEKEND
Rally Information: Zwickau, Saxony, East Germany. 20th-21st May. 4th round of the German Rally Championship. 12 special stages, around 135 km of competitive distance, asphalt.
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 Teams: Fabian Kreim/Frank Christian (ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland); Dmitriy Biryukov/Evgeniy Kalachev (TGS Worldwide OU)
Interesting Facts: This event has not been on the German Rally Championship calendar since 2012.
Rally Information: Szombathely, west Hungary. 20th-22nd May. 3rd round of the Hungarian Rally Championship. 12 special stages, around 141 km of competitive distance, gravel.
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 Teams: Norbert Herczig/Igor Bacigál (Herczig Autósport); Peter Ranga/Viktor Ban (Topp-Cars Rally Team)
Interesting Facts: Norbert Herczig won the 2015 edition in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000 by just 12 seconds.
Rallye d’Antibes – Côte d’Azur
Rally Information: Antibes, south-east France. 21st -22nd May. 3rd round of the French Tarmac Rally Championship. 12 special stages, around 206 km of competitive distance, asphalt.
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 Teams: Sylvain Michel/Jérôme Degout (Team 2C Yacco); Pierre Roché/Martine Roché (Team FJ Elf)
Interesting Facts: Both of this year’s ŠKODA drivers finished in the top 6 in this event last year, but both were driving cars of other brands.
Rally Information: Bocholt, north-east Belgium. 20th-21st May. 5th round of the Belgian Rally Championship. 15 special stages, around 145 km of competitive distance, mixed surface (asphalt/gravel).
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 Teams: Freddy Loix/Johan Gitsels; Vincent Verschueren/Gert Broekaert
Interesting Facts: Loix/Gitsels won this rally last year by more than a minute in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000. In second place were Vincent Verschueren and Gert Broekaert, although not in a ŠKODA car.
Anderup EL Rally
Rally Information: Ebberup, central Denmark. 21st May. 2nd round of the Danish Rally Championship. 6 special stages, around 60 km of competitive distance, tarmac.
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 Teams: Esben Hegelund/Karsten Isaksen
Interesting Facts: Esben Hegelund won the opening round of the Danish Rally Championship, the Cimbern Rallye National A, with another co-driver Ole R. Frederiksen beside him.
Title photo: Daniel Halac