Teemu Suninen recovers from early setback to finish fourth at RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada and stays in WRC2 title race; while strong Umberto Scandola’s finish sees him win the final leg of Italian Rally Championship to finish third overall.
Teemu Suninen finished fourth in Spain and keeps WRC2 title hopes alive
There was plenty of drama unfolding at last weekend’s RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada in the FIA World Rally Championship. First of all, there was another One-Two finish in the WRC2 standings for the ŠKODA Motorsport team. It was Jan Kopecký and his co-driver Pavel Dresler who claimed victory this year, with Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson having to settle for the runners-up place after finishing just 15.3 seconds behind.
Teemu Suninen and his co-driver Mikko Markkula, driving Team Oreca’s ŠKODA FABIA R5 (title photo above), managed to end up in fourth place in the WRC2 standings despite being forced to retire on stage 4. Under Rally2 rules, they were able to rejoin the event and after putting in some seriously fast times managed to climb to fifth place. However, after the Turán Motorsport SE car of Frigyes Turán was given a 25-minute time penalty, they were elevated up to fourth in the WRC2 standings. This secured them a vital 12 points in the WRC2 championship and keeps them in contention for the title.
Ole Christian Veiby was another ŠKODA FABIA R5 driver to benefit from the penalty to Turán. He was upgraded from sixth to fifth place as a result, a result that pleased the 20-year old Norwegian given that he too retired in stage 4 before rejoining the event.
Of the other ŠKODA customer teams, there were strong starts from Julien Maurin, Bernhard Ten Brinke, Armin Kremer, and Ghislain de Mevius. But all encountered problems and in the end, only two, Maurin and de Mevius made it to the finishing line, in 11th and 12th place respectively in the WRC2 standings.
The result of the RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada makes for a fascinating conclusion to the WRC2 championship, with three ŠKODA drivers still in contention. Team Oreca’s Teemu Suninen remains in second place in the championship with 105 points, but only has one more nominated event remaining; the Wales Rally GB. He is 15 points behind current leader Elfyn Evans who has completed his seven designated events.
But just behind him in the standings are ŠKODA Motorsport drivers Esapekka Lappi, with 82 points, and Jan Kopecký, with 80 points. And they can collect points in both of the remaining events of the season, the Wales Rally GB and the Rally Australia, which promises to make the next round of the WRC2 championship in Wales unmissable. It will take place from 27th to 30th October. .
Puncture blows Umberto Scandola’s title chances, but he roars back for second leg win at Rally Due Valli
The Rally Due Valli was the final event of the Italian Rally Championship season and saw Umberto Scandola / Guido D’Amore, driving a FABIA R5 for the ŠKODA Italia Motorsport team, looking to score the points they needed to claim the title.
Unfortunately, their challenge was undone in the first leg, when a puncture on the second stage cost them 40 seconds. That incident along with rain, which led to very slippery conditions, cost them as they finished fourth in the first leg. With the Italian Championship awarding points for the positions in each leg, that result meant the championship was beyond them.
It was a bittersweet moment after what has been an impressive season, but undeterred, they went on to dominate the second leg, winning three of the four stages to claim full points. But despite finishing just 7.7 seconds behind the overall winners, they also ended in fourth place overall.
The other ŠKODA FABIA R5 in the rally, driven by Luca Hoelbling / Mauro Grassi for the Car Racing team, finished the event in sixth place overall.
Miguel Barbosa defies conditions to claim second place at the Rallye Casino de Espinho
In the seventh and penultimate round of the Portuguese Rally Championship at the Rallye Casino de Espinho, Miguel Barbosa and his co-driver Miguel Ramalho, driving a FABIA R5 for the BP Ultimate ŠKODA Team, claimed their second consecutive podium finish in their debut season in the rallying.
It was impressive stuff from the Portuguese driver in what were wet, slippery and at times foggy conditions. The second place finish was the best of his career to date, as he won one stage and finished just 1 minute and 46 seconds behind the overall winner, as well as comfortably ahead of the third-placed car.
Manuel Castro / Luís Costa, who were driving a FABIA S2000 for the Veloso Motorsport team, also completed the event, finishing in sixth place.
The result leaves Barbosa in third place in the Portuguese championship with just one event remaining, the Rali Casinos do Algarve, which will take place on 12th and 13th November.
COMING UP THIS WEEKEND
Kirchham, southeast Germany; 21st to 22nd October; 10th round of German Rally Championship; asphalt event, 11 special stages, around 121km competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5s:
Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian (ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland); Dominik Dinkel / Christina Kohl (Brose Motorsport); Jiří Tošovský / Tomáš Plachý; Thomas Wallenwein / Markus Poschner
Fabian Kreim has a lead in the German Rally Championship of 21 points going into this event, which is the final rally of the season. With a maximum of 28 points available, a good performance here will help him clinch the 2016 title; Dominik Dinkel has claimed five podium finishes this season in a FABIA S2000. This will be his first rally in a FABIA R5.
Silkeborg, central Denmark; 21st to 22nd October; 6th round of Danish Rally Championship; asphalt event, 14 special stages, around 165km competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5:
Esben Hegelund / Karsten Isaksen (Wevers Sport)
Esben Hegelund has won all five events in the Danish Rally Championship so far this season and already secured the championship title. A victory here would ensure a 100% win record for the season.
Rallye International du Valais
Martigny / Sion, western Switzerland; 21st to 22nd October; 7th round of Swiss Rally Championship; asphalt event, 14 special stages, around 193km competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5s:
Jan Černý / Petr Černohorský (Mogul Czech National Team); Jérémie Toedtli / Alexandre Chioso (Ecurie des Trois Chevrons)
The last ŠKODA victory in this event was back in 2014 when it was on the FIA European Rally Championship calendar and Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm claimed the win in a FABIA S2000; This rally will be Jérémie Toedtli debut event in a FABIA R5.