Success for Freddy Loix at Sezoens Rally, Fabian Kreim claims DRM win at Sachsen Rally, Norbert Herczig triumphs in Szombathely, as ŠKODA Fabia R5 cars enjoy another weekend to remember.
Freddy Loix continues 100% record with fifth successive win at Sezoens Rally
Freddy Loix and his Dutch co-driver Johan Gitsels continued their dominance of the Belgian Rally Championship (BRC) last weekend, as they extended their 100% start to the season with another comfortable victory at the Sezoens Rally, the fifth round of the BRC season.
They dominated the event, held in Bocholt, north-east Belgium, from start to finish, winning nine of the fifteen special stages to claim victory in their ŠKODA Fabia R5 (title photo above) by a margin of more than 50 seconds. The result moved Loix closer to a fourth consecutive championship crown and Belgian rally legend was understandably elated at the performance.
“This victory was perhaps the easiest of the season, but we still had to work hard for the win,” said Freddy Loix afterwards. “I was able to push on early and then control the race again and the strategy worked well. Once again the team gave us a perfect car and in the end it was a nice rally to be a part of.”
The other ŠKODA Fabia R5 driven by Vincent Verschueren and co-driver Gert Broekaert was also performing well and sitting in second place after stage 11. But just when a one-two finish for ŠKODA looked to be on the cards, a disastrous stage 12 saw them forced to swerve to avoid a loose manhole cover and come off the track, losing more than a minute and subsequently dropping back. Despite winning the last two stages in a late push to make it on to the podium, they wound up just eleven seconds short in fourth place.
“In the last bend in stage 12, I had to avoid hitting a manhole cover which had come loose,” explained a frustrated Vincent Verschueren. “I lost my line and the car braked abruptly meaning we slid backwards off the track. I initially thought our rally was over, but after a minute we were able to move on. Without this incident I believe we would have been in contention for second place.”
We will see whether Freddy Loix can extend his winning run when the Belgian Rally Championship returns with the famous Ypres Rally from 23rd to 25th June.
Fabian Kreim claims his second German Rally Championship win at Sachsen Rallye
Fabian Kreim/Frank Christian continued their strong start to the season with victory in the German Rally Championship (DRM) at the Sachsen Rallye. The German duo, driving for the ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland team, were hugely consistent throughout the event to end up one minute and fifty-five seconds ahead of their nearest rival.
“This was a rally to enjoy – and not only because it was our second victory of the season,” said a satisfied Fabian Kreim at the finish. “On the fast sections especially, there were an incredible number of spectators who cheered us on, which was fantastic. At last, we have driven a rally without a significant error as well, which is a huge success for us, and the whole team.”
It was another ŠKODA which took second place in the German championship standings as well, but this was the ŠKODA Fabia S2000 of Belgian youngster Yannick Neuville and his Austrian co-driver Jürgen Heigl.
Dominik Dinkel/Christina Kohl (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) continued their impressive start to the season and were also pushing hard for a podium finish before being forced out of the rally on special stage 10. Elsewhere, the Russian pair of Dmitriy Biryukov/Evgeniy Kalachev (ŠKODA Fabia R5) finished in 11th place in the DRM standings.
The next round of the German Rally Championship is the Rallye Stemweder Berg which will take place on 24th and 25th June.
Norbert Herczig claims win in Szombathely Rallye to cement his lead in Hungarian Championship
The third round of the Hungarian Rally Championship took place last weekend with the Szombathely Rallye and it was another great few days behind the wheel for Norbert Herczig and Igor Bacigál.
They drove their ŠKODA Fabia R5 with speed and confidence, particularly on the second day, to claim their third win in Hungarian championship this season and secure an impressive lead at the top of the championship standings with five rallies remaining.
“It was a superb weekend which started off quite hard for us, but in the end we were able to claim the win,” said Norbert Herczig at the finish. “On the first day we lost quite a bit of time on loose gravel, but everything fell into place on day two when we won all eight stages. My thanks to Igor and the BRR Team who again gave us a perfect ŠKODA Fabia R5 car to work with. We are delighted with our third victory in the Hungarian Rally Championship and are now looking forward to the next gravel rally in Veszprém.”
As Herczig says, the next round of the Hungarian Rally Championship is the Veszprém Rallye, which will take place from 17th to 19th June.
Sylvain Michel claims podium place at Rallye d’Antibes and leads the French Tarmac Championship
The third round of the French Tarmac Championship took place over the weekend with the Rallye d’Antibes – Côte d’Azur. And there was a superb performance from Sylvain Michel, along with new co-driver Jérôme Degout, driving a ŠKODA Fabia R5 for Team 2C Yacco, who finished as the highest placed R5 car and on the podium overall with a third place finish. It was Michel’s third consecutive podium finish of the season and leaves him top of the championship standings after three events.
Elsewhere, there was also a decent performance from Pierre Roché/Martine Roché, driving for Team FJ Elf, who finished second in the R5 standings and fifth overall.
The French Tarmac Championship returns on 17th and 18th June with the Rallye du Limousin.
NEWS IN BRIEF
*** The fifth round of the World Rally Championship took place last weekend with the Rally de Portugal. There were no fewer than 9 ŠKODA customer teams taking part alongside the two ŠKODA Motorsport teams, and with five ŠKODA Fabia R5 cars in the top six of the WRC2 standings, it proved to be a fruitful event for many. You can read all the details in our Customer Teams Rally Review.*** There was an impressive drive by the Finnish duo of Kalle Rovanperä/Risto Pietiläinen at the Rally Talsi, where they finished second overall and first in the Latvian Rally Championship standings in a ŠKODA Fabia 2000 run by the TGS Worldwide OU team. *** Also at the Rally Talsi, Latvian pairing Raimonds Kisiels/Arnis Ronis took their Race Ring team ŠKODA Fabia R5 to a seventh place overall and fifth in the Latvian standings, while Martynas Samuitis/Ramūnas Šaučikovas finished seventh in the Lithuanian Championships standings on their first outing in a Martin Sport ŠKODA Fabia R5.
COMING UP THIS WEEKEND
Rally de La Madera
Rally Information: Caaguazú, central Paraguay, 180 km east of Asuncion. 27th to 29th May. 3rd round of the Paraguayan Rally Championship. 11 special stages, around 175 km of competitive distance, gravel.
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 Teams: Gustavo Saba/Leonardo Suaya; Didier Arias/Hector Nunes; Miguel Zaldivar Jr/TBC
Interesting Facts: Gustavo Saba won this event in 2013 driving a ŠKODA Fabia S2000.
Rally Information: Cingoli, east/central Italy. 27th to 29th May. 4th round of the Italian Rally Championship. 10 special stages, around 375 km of competitive distance, gravel.
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 Team: Umberto Scandola/Guido D’Amore (ŠKODA Italia Motorsport)
Interesting Facts: Umberto Scandola/Guido D’Amore have won the last three Rally Adriatico events in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000. This is their first attempt at it in a Fabia R5.
Rallye Terre du Dois
Rally Information: Dié, south-east France. 27th to 29th May. 2nd round of the French Gravel Championship. 12 special stages, around 125 km of competitive distance, gravel.
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 Teams: Julien Maurin/Olivier Ural; Mattieu Margaillan/Mathilde Margaillan
Interesting Facts: Margaillan pipped Maurin as the ŠKODA Fabia R5s finished first and second in the French Gravel Championship standings in the opening event of the season, the Rallye Terre des Causses.
Rally Information: Gdańsk, northern Poland; 27th to 29th May. 2nd round of the Polish Rally Championship. 11 special stages, around 125km of competitive distance, gravel.
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 Team: Filip Nivette/Kamil Heller
Interesting Facts: This is the first event in the 2016 Polish Rally Championship that a ŠKODA Fabia R5 has competed in, but there was a victory for the car in the 2015 championship, as Grzegorz Grzyb/Robert Hundla won the Rally Nadwiślański.
Rallye Český Krumlov
Rally Information: Český Krumlov, southern Czech Republic. 27th to 28th May. 2nd round of the Czech Rally Championship. 14 special stages, around 170km of competitive distance, asphalt.
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 Teams: Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (ŠKODA Motorsport); Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (ŠKODA Motorsport); Vojtěch Štajf/František Rajnoha (Klokočka ŠKODA Czech National Team); Věroslav Cvrček/TBC (Tlusťák Racing); Karel Trojan/Petr Chlup (Korno Motorsport)
Interesting Facts: Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler won this event last year in a ŠKODA Fabia R5 and also back in 2012 in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000. There will be a number of other ŠKODA cars taking part in this year’s event, including several ŠKODA Fabia S2000s and ŠKODA Fabia WRCs.