Loix and ŠKODA rewrite the record books in Belgium, as Kreim heads a 1-2-3-4 finish in Germany and there are further Fabia R5 podium finishes in Britain, Austria, Portugal and France.
Freddy Loix secures Belgian crown as he claims record eleventh Ypres Rally victory
Freddy Loix’s dominance of both the Belgian Rally Championship and the Ypres Rally continued last weekend as he cruised to victory in the 2016 edition by a margin of 56 seconds.
Loix, who has now won every event in this season’s Belgian Rally Championship, began the first leg cautiously by his own fast standards and found himself down in third place after stage 3, but he found more speed towards the end of the leg and a consistently fast performance on the second leg saw him ease to what was a fairly comfortable victory, his eleventh in this rally.
The win was his fourth in a row here and the seventh successive time a ŠKODA has won the event. It also ensured that Loix will finish as the Belgian Rally Champion for a fourth successive time.
“I am very happy with the win and the title,” said Freddy Loix. “My team, my co-driver, my ŠKODA and myself were the best. You never win alone. You do as a team and we proved that again here. We have never deviated from our predetermined plan. We drove a tight pace and knew those going faster would eventually make mistakes or have problems. I know my ŠKODA perfectly and know precisely what I can ask of my car.”
While Loix took all the headlines, there were a number of other good performances in both the Belgian and European Rally Championships to note too. Hermen Kobus with his co-driver Erik de Wild, driving in the colours of the Kobus Tuning team, finished in fourth place, just 7.2 seconds off the podium.
“I’m very happy with this fourth place,” said Hermen Kobus after the rally. “I had a good rhythm and I drove efficiently, although perhaps with a lack of confidence at the start. We finished behind three Belgians who know the track well, so it is a good result.”
Just five seconds further back, in fifth spot overall and fourth in the Belgian championship, were Vincent Verschueren and Veronique Hostens. They had been pushing hard for a podium before Verschueren was hit by ill-health, as a spell of dizziness and weakness made him contemplate retirement. He drove on to finish the rally, but his lack of sharpness from that point on resulted in their eventual finishing spot.
“I cannot believe this happened to me because we were definitely in line for a podium finish,” Vincent Verschueren said after a tough night following the event. “But my arms and legs were tingling and I felt lightheaded. I carried on but my reaction times were down and I made a few mistakes. After the rally, I immediately went home, but I could not sleep. We still don’t know the cause, but I suspect dehydration. I also ate hardly after the Qualifying Stage on Thursday too.”
Jaromír Tarabus and Daniel Trunkát, driving for the T&T Czech National Team, brought their ŠKODA Fabia R5 home in seventh place overall. “We are leaving the Ypres Rally with a good feeling,” said Jaromír Tarabus at the finish. “Competition from local drivers was huge, and our result is the best of all regular participants in the ERC, and the points will help us in the final championship standings.”
And completing an impressive five ŠKODA Fabia R5s in the top ten, were Antonín Tlusťák / Ladislav Kučera, driving for Tlusťák Racing, who finished in tenth spot. “We have managed to break our run of bad luck here in Belgium,” commented Antonín Tlusťák at the finish. “Ypres is a technically demanding rally, especially in these wet conditions. I consciously drove at my own pace and my main aim was to finish without any problems. We succeeded and finished inside the top 10, so I am very satisfied.”
The next round of the European Rally Championship is the Rally Estonia, which takes place from the 15th to 17th July. The Belgian Rally Championship now has a break before resuming with the Omloop van Vlaanderen on 2nd and 3rd September.
Fabian Kreim wins Rallye Stemweder Berg to lead German Rally Championship
Fabian Kreim with his co-driver Frank Christian, driving for the ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland team, claimed their second win of the season in the German championship at the Rallye Stemweder Berg. The pair, who have finished second in each of the last five rallies they have finished, dominated the rally from start to finish, winning six of the eleven stages run before the final four stages were cancelled because of bad weather.
The victory, which elevated the pair back to the top of the German Championship standings, was achieved despite extreme conditions which saw storms, rain and even snow causing treacherous and slippery conditions.
“We are really extremely happy about this important victory,” said Fabian Kreim afterwards. “The asphalt roads were insanely slippery with all the rain. But last year we celebrated our first win with the ŠKODA Fabia R5 here, and I think this rally is a lucky place for us. But of course, there is still work to do in the championship.”
There was also more good news behind Kreim, as ŠKODA cars filled the top four positions in the rally. In second place were Dominik Dinkel / Christina Kohl, driving a ŠKODA Fabia S2000 for the Brose Motorsport team. The result continued their excellent form and marked their fourth podium finish of the season.
Behind them in third place were Kristian Poulsen / Ole R. Frederiksen, driving a ŠKODA Fabia R5 for the Wevers Sport team, while their teammates Mark van Eldik / Harmen Scholtalbers finished 4.8 seconds further back, having been denied a higher finish by a disastrous second stage, from which they were always recovering.
There was also a decent performance from Dmitriy Biryukov / Evgeniy Kalachev, for the TGS Worldwide OU team, who finished in eighth place overall, and seventh in the German championship standings.
The next round of the German Rally Championship, the Thüringen Rallye, will take place on the 15th and 16th July.
Desi Henry steals third spot as a final stage puncture robs David Bogie of second at Scottish Rally
After a lengthy hiatus, the British Rally Championship returned last weekend with the Scottish Rally in Dumfries, marking the fourth round.
And it was Desi Henry and his co-driver Liam Moynihan, who have consistently improved in the British Championship as it has progressed, who shone brightest, finishing in third place overall. The pair drove consistently throughout and capitalized on the misfortune of others to claim a spot on the podium.
One of those who looked likely to end on the podium were David Bogie / Kevin Rae, who were running in second place overall, before being hit by a puncture on the final stage. The flailing rubber unfortunately damaged the radiator and forced the pair out of the rally.
“It was not the best way to end our local round of the British Rally Championship,” said David Bogie at the end. “We picked up a front puncture on the last stage whilst sitting second overall – we managed to get to the end of the stage, but the flailing rubber burst the radiator in the process, which meant we couldn’t get to the finish ceremony in Dumfries and retired. It is disappointing, but things like that happen in rallying.”
The other ŠKODA Fabia R5 taking part was the CA1 Sport car of Thomas Preston / Jack Morton, which finished in 8th place in the BRC standings. They too were affected by punctures in the first and last stages and also found themselves in a ditch on stage three. But persistence paid off as they ended up in a championship points-scoring position.
“We scored some BRC points and gained more experience of driving the Fabia R5 on gravel – and now we look forward to driving the ŠKODA on tarmac for the first time at the Nicky Grist Stages,” said an optimistic Thomas Preston afterwards.
The next round of the British Rally Championship is the Nicky Grist Stages 100 which will take place on 9th and 10th July.
Raimund Baumschlager on the podium again with third place at the Rallye Schneebergland
The Rallye Schneebergland marked the fourth round of the Austrian Rally Championship and saw yet another podium finish for Raimund Baumschlager / Thomas Zeltner in the BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team’s ŠKODA Fabia R5.
They finished the rally in third place, just 50 seconds behind the eventual winners, after a consistent drive across all seven of the stages completed (stage 7 was cancelled). They were also the highest placed R5 car, with both cars in front of them being more powerful WRC vehicles, and the result left them second overall in the Austrian championship with four events gone.
“It didn’t go too badly,” said a disappointed Raimund Baumschlager afterwards. “But on the longer gravel stages the additional power of the WRC cars proved too much. In the end, we had to settle for third place.”
There was also a notable performance from another Austrian pairing. Christian Schuberth-Mrlik / Elke Aigner finished in an impressive sixth place overall in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000 for the Bezirksblätter Racing Team.
The next round of the Austrian Rally Championship is the Rallye Weiz, which takes place on 22nd and 23rd July.
NEWS IN BRIEF
*** In the fourth round of the Portuguese Rally Championship at the Rali Vidreiro – Centro de Portugal, there was a strong performance by Pedro Meireles / Mário Castro in a ŠKODA Fabia R5 who finished in second place, just 14.9 seconds behind the winner. Just behind them in third place were Miguel Campos / Carlos Magalhães, while Miguel Barbosa / Miguel Ramalho finished in seventh place. Manuel Castro and Luís Costa finished tenth in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000. *** Hubert Ptaszek (ŠKODA Fabia R5, The Ptock team) was joined again by his co-driver Maciej Szczepaniak, who has thankfully recovered from his back injury sustained at Rally de Portugal, and together they finished in second place at the Rajd Warmiński, which was a warm-up for the upcoming Rally Poland for them. *** In the third round of the French Gravel Rally Championship at the Rallye Terre de Langres – Haute Marne, Julien Maurin / Olivier Ural (ŠKODA Fabia R5, 2C Compétition) secured second place after finishing just 31 seconds behind the eventual winners *** In an incredibly tight finish to the Rallye Régional des Vins de Chinon et du Véron, Jean-Luc Roché / Christophe Baudry (ŠKODA Fabia R5) finished just 12.9 seconds behind the eventual winners, but had to settle for fourth place in this 8 stage, 40km event.
COMING UP THIS WEEKEND
Rally Information: Mladá Boleslav, 65km north of Prague, Czech Republic; 2nd to 3rd July; 4th round of Czech Rally Championship; asphalt event, 8 special stages, around 153km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 teams: Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler (ŠKODA Motorsport); Rashid Al-Ketbi / Karina Hepperle (Fujairah Rally Team); Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian; Vojtěch Štajf / František Rajnoha (Klokočka ŠKODA Czech National Team); Jan Sýkora / Štěpán Palivec (KL Racing Team); Karel Trojan / Petr Chlup (Korno Motorsport)
Interesting Facts: Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler have won all three rounds of this year’s Czech Rally Championship; Jan Kopecký is the second most successful driver in the history of the Rally Bohemia, with five wins to his name so far. Victory this year will see him become the joint most successful alongside former ŠKODA driver Roman Kresta.
Rally Information: Bacău, east Romania; 1st and 2nd July; 5th round of Romanian Rally Championship; asphalt event, 15 special stages, around 130km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 team: Dan Gîrtofan / Tudor Mârza (ŠKODA Romania Motorsport)
Interesting Facts: Dan Gîrtofan has finished third in this event in each of the last two years in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000; Gîrtofan has also been on the podium in each of the four Romanian Rally Championship events so far this year.