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ŠKODA FABIA R5 secures one-two-three win in Finland as Kalle Rovanperä continues to impress with victory at the SM O.K. Auto-Ralli. Pedro Meireles win Rallye Vidreiro to consolidate Portuguese championship lead, while Norbert Herczig retains Hungarian championship lead after finishing second at the Székesfehérvár Rally. Fabiano Lo Fiego finishes second to get best career result to date in the French tarmac championship at the Rallye du Limousin.

Kalle Rovanperä impresses again at the SM O.K. Auto-Ralli in Finland

Kalle Rovanperä wrote another chapter in the fairytale of his rallying career at the SM O.K. Auto-Ralli (10th June), the fifth round of the Finnish Rally Championship. And there was a happy ending for ŠKODA too with FABIA R5 crews filling all three places on the podium.

Kalle Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, TGS Worldwide OU. O.K. Auto-Ralli 2017

Rovanperä had to receive special dispensation to compete in rallies in his native Finland owing to his young age. But despite this, the reigning Latvian Rally Champion claimed another dominant victory on home soil, his second in just two Finnish championship events.

Rovanperä and his co-driver Risto Pietiläinen won all but one stage that was driven (another was cancelled) in their TGS Worldwide OU FABIA R5 to end up 27.7 seconds clear of their closest rivals.

Kalle Rovanperä

Fellow FABIA R5 and TGS Worldwide OU driver Juuso Nordgren, who was ably supported by co-driver Mikael Korhonen, was driving just his second ever rally in a FABIA R5 and has finished runner-up on both occasions.

Juuso Nordgren / Mikael Korhonen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, TGS Worldwide OU. O.K. Auto-Ralli 2017

He claimed two stage victories here (finishing with the same time as Rovanperä on the final stage) and showed good pace to hang onto second spot by just 0.7 seconds after making a fairly conservative start to the rally. With Rovanperä not eligible for championship points, it means Nordgren scored maximum points from this result.

Juuso Nordgren

The car Nordgren edged out for second place was the Printsport Oy FABIA R5 of Marko Mänty / Joni Mäkelä. They too drove a consistent and fast rally as they pushed hard for second place throughout. In the end, they had to settle for third place, but as this was their third consecutive podium finish, after finishing second at the TerraWice Ralli and winning last time out at the Riihimäki-Ralli, Mänty has now moved up to third in the overall championship standings.

Marko Mänty / Joni Mäkelä, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Printsport Oy. O.K. Auto-Ralli 2017

It is Teemu Asunmaa (ŠKODA FABIA R5; Hannu’s Rally Team) who still retains the overall championship lead, despite crashing out of this event on the opening stage.

But there were two other FABIA R5s which finished with Mikko Lehessaari / Reeta Hämäläinen finishing in seventh place for Hannu’s Rally Team, while Jukka Kasi / Henri Ania finished twelfth for the Printsport Oy team.

Mikko Lehessaari / Reeta Hämäläinen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Hannu's Rally Team. O.K. Auto-Ralli 2017

The next round of the Finnish Rally Championship will be the Uusikaupunki Ralli, which does not take place until after the summer break, on the 8th and 9th September.

Pedro Meireles wins Rallye Vidreiro - Centro de Portugal to retain Championship lead

The Rallye Vidreiro - Centro de Portugal (9th to 10th June) was the sixth round of the Portuguese Rally Championship and saw more success for  ŠKODA as two FABIA R5s ended up on the podium.

It was Pedro Meireles / Mário Castro who took the victory in a car prepared and run by the ARVidal team. They came into this rally as championship leaders and led for the opening four stages, before briefly losing the lead. But two fastest times in the final three stages elevated them back to the top of the standings and after rival Carlos Viera was forced to retire, they closed out victory by a margin of 23.2 seconds.

Pedro Meireles / Mário Castro, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Pedro Meireles. Rali Vidreiro - Centro de Portugal 2017

Just 34.5 seconds down the road and in third place overall were the BP Ultimate Vodafone ŠKODA Team pairing of Miguel Barbosa / Miguel Ramalho. It was their first podium finish of the season and - after winning stage 2 and being sat in second place at the end of the first leg - it looked for a while like it could have been even better. But they lost some time on the opening stage of the second leg and in the end were happy with a podium finish.

Miguel Barbosa / Miguel Ramalho, ŠKODA FABIA R5, BP Ultimate Vodafone Škoda Team. Rali Vidreiro - Centro de Portugal 2017
Miguel Barbosa

The Portuguese Rally Championship will continue from the 3rd to 5th August with the Rali Vinho da Madeira.

Norbert Herczig retains Hungarian championship lead after finishing second in Székesfehérvár

There were some strong performances from the entered FABIA R5 drivers in the fourth round of the Hungarian Rally Championship at the Székesfehérvár Rallye (10th to 11th June).

Norbert Herczig / Igor Bacigál, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Rally Team Hungaria. Székesfehérvár Rallye 2017

In the ŠKODA Rally Team Hungaria FABIA R5, which was prepared and run by the Baumschlager Rallye & Racing team, Norbert Herczig / Igor Bacigál rallied after a disappointing first leg, when rain hampered their performance, to win four of the eight special stages in the second leg, and finish second in three more. Whilst it wasn’t quite enough to steal victory, they finished just 6.6 seconds adrift in second place, which was enough to retain the championship lead.

Norbert Herczig

Ferenc Vincze Jr also managed to secure a podium place as he finished in third place in his S-Motorsport SE FABIA R5 alongside co-driver Attila Bazsó.

Ferenc Vincze jun. / Attila Bazsó, ŠKODA FABIA R5, S-Motorsport SE. Székesfehérvár Rallye 2017

There were also three more FABIA R5s inside the top 10 as Péter Ranga / Tamás Szöke finished sixth for the Ranga Rally Team, teammates László Ranga jr. / Imre Tóth were just behind them in seventh place, while József Trencsényi / Gábor Verba came home in tenth place for the Extrém Sport Team.

The next round of the Hungarian Rally Championship will be the Veszprém Rallye from 7th to 9th July.

Fabiano Lo Fiego runner-up at Rallye du Limousin in just second FABIA R5 drive

The Rallye du Limousin (9th to 10th June) was the fourth round of the French Tarmac Rally Championship and saw an impressive performance, in what was only his second drive in a FABIA R5 from Fabiano Lo Fiego.

Lo Fiego, who won the Rallye National du Pays Viganais in the French Cup on his debut in the car just a week ago, made a fairly reserved start and sat in fourth place after the six special stages of the first leg. But he really found his pace on the second leg winning four of the seven stages, and finishing second in two more, as he climbed up to second place in the overall classification and then held off the challenge from Charles Martin to retain the position.

Fabiano Lo Fiego / Romain Roche, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Fabiano Lo Fiego. Rallye du Limousin 2017

The result also meant Lo Fiego finished first in the Trophée Michelin standings, the competition for amateur drivers in non-WRC specification cars. It also meant he substantially increased his record of stage wins in the French championship having previously won only one stage in his career.

Fabiano Lo Fiego

Quentin Giordano / Valentin Salmon, who were in a FABIA R5 for the Sébastien Loeb Racing team, came home in fifth place overall, but second in the Trophée Michelin. They sat second after the opening stage, but a heavy crash on stage 7 saw them limp to the finish in a badly damaged car that the team mechanics did well to keep going at all. They put in some consistent times after that and will have been satisfied with fifth place in the circumstances.

Quentin Giordano / Valentin Salmon, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Sébastien Loeb Racing. Rallye du Limousin 2017

Two places further behind them, in seventh overall and fourth in the Trophée Michelin, were the Team FJ pairing of Pierre Roché / Martine Roché, while there was also an impressive drive in the early stages from Jean-Sébastien Vigion / Kévin Parent for RTTC – Yacco. They were sat in thir place after stage 3 but were forced to retire on stage 4 after suffering a double puncture and only having one spare wheel.

Pierre Roché / Martine Roché, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Team FJ. Rallye du Limousin 2017

The next round of the French Tarmac Rally Championship will be the Rallye du Rouergue - Aveyron from 7th to 9th July.

NEWS IN BRIEF

Ole Christian Veiby secured his best ever WRC2 result at the Rally Italia Sardegna (8th to 11th June), the seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Alongside co-driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen, he brought his Printsport Oy FABIA R5 home in second place in the WRC2 category, just behind the ŠKODA Motorsport FABIA R5 of Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler.

There was a remarkable victory for Niklas Hägg / Christer Carlsson at the Rally Bilmetro (9th to 10th June), the fourth round of the Swedish Rally Championship. They were driving a FABIA S2000 for the L.Häggsbildemontering AB team but nevertheless managed to take the overall victory, edging out their closest rivals by just 0.6 seconds

At the Rallye de Ourense (9th to 10th June), the fourth round of the Spanish Rally Championship, there was a podium finish for Pedro Burgo / Marcos Burgo. Driving for the ACSM Rallye Team, they finished in third place. It was Burgo’s best result so far in what was just his fourth ever drive in a FABIA R5

Fabrizio Margaroli / Andrea Dresti secured a second place finish at the Rally Valli Ossolane (9th to 11th June) in the Italian regional championship (Zone 1). They were just 20 seconds behind the overall winners. The six-time Swiss rally champion Grégoire Hotz, who was competing for Team Race Art Technology / ŠKODA Swiss Motorsport alongside co-driver Pietro Ravasi, finished in fourth place. After a two-year hiatus from rallying, Hotz was starting his first rally in a FABIA R5 as he contemplates a return to the Swiss championship. Their next drive will be at the Rally Ronde del Ticino (23rd to 24th June).

In the French Cup, at the Rallye Régional du Lochois (9th to 10th June), Jean-Luc Roché / Alexandra Robin-Roché claimed victory in their Team FJ FABIA R5 by the narrowest of margins after finishing with the same time as the runners-up. Another FABIA R5, driven by Paul Gauthier / Annie Gauthier finished in fourth place. In another French Cup event, the Rallye Régional du Val d'Orain (9th to 10th June), Cédric Rabasse / Sabrina Rabasse-Sevrette also claimed a podium place after finishing third, just 5.3 seconds behind the overall winners.

There was also a FABIA R5 on the podium at the Rally van Wervik (9th to 10th June) in Belgium as Melissa Debackere / Arne Dekeyser brought their Duindistel car home in third place as they prepared for the upcoming Ypres Rally.

COMING UP THIS WEEKEND

Date Rally Surface
16-18 June Cyprus Rally European Rally C’ship Round 4 Gravel / Asphalt
16-17 June Rally Hustopeče Czech Rally C'ship Round 4 Asphalt
17 June Aurskog-Høland Rally Norwegian Rally C’ship Round 5 Gravel
15-17 June Raliul Moldovei Moinești Romanian Rally C’ship Round 4 Gravel
16-18 June Donegal Int. Rally Irish Tarmac Rally C’ship Round 4 Asphalt