Freddy Loix hangs his racing helmet on the nail, Miguel Barbosa finishes debut season in third spot in Portugal, as rain delays the highly anticipated FABIA R5 showdown in Paraguay and Grzegorz Grzyb impresses again in a FABIA R5 at the Keskomobil Auto Show.
Freddy Loix announces his retirement
Legendary Belgian rally driver Freddy Loix (title photo above) has announced that he is to retire from competitive rallies with immediate effect. Loix has been involved in rallying for 27 years and at the age of 46 he has decided the time is right for a new challenge.
He will be ending his career on a high, having secured his fourth successive Belgian Rally Championship title this season in dominant fashion, winning the opening six rounds of the season. He also won his eleventh Ypres Rally, the sixth in a ŠKODA FABIA, as he established himself as one of the best Belgian rally drivers of all time.
The good news is that Loix will not be venturing away from the ŠKODA family. His future plans include some marketing work and also helping young drivers alongside ŠKODA Belgium and its director, Christian Rampelbergh, with whom Loix has forged a close bond during his years with the team.
Everyone here at ŠKODA Motorsport thanks Freddy for all his efforts over the past six years and wishes him every success for the future.
Miguel Barbosa secures third place in Portuguese Championship at the Rallye Casinos do Algarve
The Rallye Casinos do Algarve was the eighth and final round of the Portuguese Rally Championship 2016. Taking place in Portimão, in the south of the country, it consisted of 9 special stages and around 120 kilometres of competitive distance.
Miguel Barbosa / Miguel Ramalho (title photo above) were the highest placed ŠKODA FABIA R5 drivers, as they finished in fourth place overall for the BP Ultimate ŠKODA Team. They were consistent with their times throughout both legs of the rally and even secured one stage victory, in the Super Special Stage 5.
The result saw them finish the season in 3rd place in the final Portuguese Rally Championship standings; an impressive performance for what was Barbosa’s debut season in rallying and in which he completed every event and also secured two podium finishes.
Meanwhile, the other FABIA R5 taking part, driven by Pedro Meireles / Mário Castro, impressed on the first leg and was in contention for a second-place finish. Unfortunately, an incident on stage seven saw them damage a wheel and forced them out of the event.
Nevertheless, Meireles ended the season in 2nd place in the overall championship standings after winning one event, the Rali de Mortágua, and finishing second in two more over the course of a solid season for the experienced Portuguese driver.
NEWS IN BRIEF
- The final round of the Paraguayan Rally Championship, the Rally de la República, was postponed due to torrential rain for most of the week leaving much of the course under water. For safety reasons the event was called off and will be rescheduled, most likely for the second week of December, when FABIA R5 drivers Didier Arias and Gustavo Saba will decide which of them is crowned champion.
- The Keskomobil Auto Show is a rally show held at the Slovakia Ring. It comprises 3 runs of 1 special stage, which takes place both on the track and the service roads of the circuit. Grzegorz Grzyb / Jakub Wróbel finished 1st in class and 2nd overall for the Rufa Sport. Grzyb was driving the same ŠKODA FABIA R5 prepared and run by Slovakian MM Rally Team in which he came 3rd at the Rajd Dolnośląski, and which Pavel Valoušek won the Slovak Rally Championship 2016 in. Martin Koči, who finished 2nd overall in the Junior World Rally Championship this year, finished 6th in his first drive in a FABIA R5 for L Racing team. Interestingly, Igor Bacigál, regular co-driver for Hungarian Rally Champion Norbert Herczig, took part as a driver for the Herczig Autósport team, finishing 12th in class and 43rd overall in his FABIA R5.
- The Pavia Rally Circuit was another rally show taking place at Castelletto in Italy. It saw Marco Colombi / Angelica Rivoir finish 1st in the R5 class and 3rd overall, 54.8 seconds behind the eventual winner.
- At the Rally van Zuid-Limburg in Belgium, Melissa Debackere / Lara Vanneste finished in 5th place overall in their ŠKODA FABIA R5.
- Veteran German driver Matthias Kahle has confirmed his participation at the Pražský rallysprint in the Czech Republic on 2nd and 3rd December. His co-driver for the event will be Jens Herkommer, the Kahle Motorsport team’s chief technician. It will be his first event as a co-driver, but he has driven a few rally events before, and also restores classic ŠKODAs, including those Kahle drives in historic events.
COMING UP THIS WEEKEND
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia; 18th to 20th November; 14th (and final) round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC); gravel event, 23 special stages, around 315 kilometres of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5s:
Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (ŠKODA Motorsport); Khalid Mohammad Al-Suwaidi / Marshall Clarke (Culture & Sport Qatar Rally Team); Nicolás Fuchs / Fernando Mussano
A 1st or 2nd place finish in the WRC2 standings will secure the WRC2 Drivers title for Esapekka Lappi. This event will be Khalid Mohammad Al-Suwaidi’s debut drive in a FABIA R5.
Int. Rally Waldviertel
Grafenegg – Niederösterreich, northern Austria. 17th to 19th November; 7th round of Austrian Rally Championship; mixed event (asphalt/gravel), 12 special stages, around 163 kilometres of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5s:
Nikolay Gryazin / Yaroslav Fedorov (Sports Racing Technologies); Jan Černý / Petr Černohorský (Mogul Czech National Team); Raimund Baumschlager / Thomas Zeltner (BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team); Christian Mrlik / Jasmin Noll (Bezirksblätter Racing Team)
Raimund Baumschlager has won this event more than any other driver, with seven victories here to date, including the 2015 edition. Christian Mrlik has also won this rally, back in 2014, again for the Bezirksblätter Racing Team. Despite WRC cars competing in the Austrian Rally Championship this year, Raimund Baumschlager has still taken his FABIA R5 to a podium finish in every round so far.