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Manvir Baryan on brink of FIA African Rally Championship after his third consecutive win. Dominik Dinkel wins his first German Rally Championship event to push Fabian Kreim to a final round championship decider. Filip Nivette claims his third win of the season to strengthen his Polish championship advantage. Burak Çukurova wins Rally of Istanbul and takes the lead in the Turkish championship. Victory for Pontus Tidemand at the Swedish Rally Championship season finale. Teemu Asunmaa retains Finnish championship lead despite late drama. And Nikolay Gryazin wins the Rally Nova Gorica in Slovenia.

Manvir Baryan on brink of African championship title after Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally win

ŠKODA FABIA R5 driver Manvir Baryan (Multiple Racing Team) is on the brink of the FIA African Rally Championship title after victory at the Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally (8th to 10th September), the penultimate round of the ARC season. It was his third victory in a row and means that he is all but mathematically certain of being the champion.

Manvir Singh Baryan / Drew Sturrock, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Multiple Racing Team. Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally 2017 (Photo: Kigali today)

Knowing that the title was his to lose before this rally, Baryan and his British co-driver Drew Sturrock were keen to avoid any unforced errors in Rwanda and so took a cautious approach to this rally. But despite that, they dominated proceedings with a composed and impressive drive, winning every special stage on the way to a comfortable victory. They ended up 3 minutes and 34 seconds ahead of their closest rivals.

Manvir Singh Baryan

Baryan leads the championship from Zambia’s Leeroy Gomes, who only finished fourth in Rwanda. ŠKODA driver just needs to finish at the final event of the season, the Zambia International Rally, which takes place on 21st and 22nd October, to be sure of the title.

2017 Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally

Germany

Dominik Dinkel wins his first German Rally Championship event at the Rallye Niedersachsen

At the Rallye Niedersachsen (8th to 9th September), the seventh round of the German Rally Championship, there was a first ever win in the series for Dominik Dinkel. Driving in a ŠKODA FABIA R5 for Brose Motorsport, with the car prepared and run by Baumschlager Rallye & Racing team, Dinkel and co-driver Christina Kohl finished 19.6 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

Dominik Dinkel / Christina Kohl, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Brose Motorsport. Rallye Niedersachsen 2017

Fellow FABIA R5 driver Fabian Kreim and co-driver Frank Christian also finished on the podium in third place for the ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland team. Their car was also prepared and run by the BRR team. It was Kreim who had won the previous three rounds and set the early pace with five wins from the first eight special stages. But in wet and slippery conditions in SS9, Kreim found himself stuck in a ditch and it was only with the help of many spectators that he was able to get his car back on the road. But the error saw him slip down to third place and he did not have enough time in the four remaining stages to make up the time he had lost.

Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland. Rallye Niedersachsen 2017

That left the way clear for the Dinkel to secure his first ever German championship win. It was a composed drive in difficult and changing conditions from the young German, who won four stages himself and only finished outside the top three once as he secured the points which moved him up to second in overall championship standings and ensured that if Fabian Kreim wants to retain his championship title, he will have to do it at the final rally of the season.

Dominik Dinkel

Kreim was very pragmatic about his misfortune during the rally and - in the end - was happy with the points he won.

Fabian Kreim

That final deciding round of the championship will take place on the 20th and 21st October. Fabian Kreim goes into it with a healthy 21 point lead over Dominik Dinkel, with René Mandel, one point further back, also capable of winning it too.

Filip Nivette edges closest to Polish title after third win of the year at the Rajd Dolnośląski

There was an impressive victory for ŠKODA FABIA R5 driver Filip Nivette at the Rajd Dolnośląski (8 to 9 September), the fourth round of the Polish Rally Championship, which has extended his championship lead.

Filip Nivette / Kamil Heller, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Rajd Dolnośląski 2017

Nivette won the opening two rounds of the Polish season at the Rajd Świdnicki and the Rajd Gdańsk and he was once again in merciless form as he powered to victory by a comfortable margin of 1 minute and 21 seconds, winning eight of the nine special stages driven in the process. Driving alongside co-driver Kamil Heller in a FABIA R5 prepared and run by Kresta Racing, Nivette was briefly challenged by Lithuanian and fellow FABIA R5 driver Dominykas Butvilas, who won the SS2 to take the lead in the rally. But a mistake on the new SS3 in Duszniki Arena, forced him to retire (although he did return to the rally in the second leg) and from that point on Nivette was never troubled at the front.

Filip Nivette

Filip Nivette now holds an advantage of 39 points over his closest championship rival, Tomasz Kasperczyk, who finished third here. That means he can clinch the title with a good performance at the penultimate rally of the season. That will be the Rajd Nadwiślański, which takes place from 29th September to 1st October.

Burak Çukurova wins the Istanbul Rallisi to lead the Turkish championship

Burak Çukurova took the lead in the Turkish Rally Championship after his victory at the Istanbul Rallisi, the fifth round of 2017 season. Çukurova and co-driver Vedat Bostanci claimed their second successive win in a ŠKODA FABIA R5, which was prepared and run by Topp-Cars Rally Team under the BC Vision Motorsport moniker, after their success at the Yeşil Bursa Rallisi earlier this summer.

Burak Çukurova / Vedat Bostanci, ŠKODA FABIA R5, BC Vision Motorsport. Istanbul Rallisi 2017

He once again found himself in a tight contest with championship rival Yagiz Avci at this event, with Avci holding the lead at the end of special stage 7. But he was forced to retire during SS8 and that left the way clear for Çukurova to claim what was - in the end - a comfortable victory, by a margin of 3 minutes and 12 seconds, with four stage victories en-route too.

Burak Çukurova

The other FABIA R5 taking part, which was also a BC Vision Motorsport car prepared and run by Topp-Cars Rally Team, was driven by Erkan Güral and co-driver Burak Kocoglu. They finished just off the podium in fourth place overall.

The next and penultimate round of the Turkish Rally Championship will be the Rally Turkey which takes place from 20th to 22nd October.

Sweden

Perfect practice for Pontus Tidemand as he wins the East Sweden Rally

ŠKODA Motorsport works driver and the new WRC2 Champion Pontus Tidemand made a guest appearance at the final round of the Swedish Rally Championship, the East Sweden Rally (8th to 9th September), in preparation for the next round of the WRC2. And he tasted victory on home soil.

Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson, ŠKODA FABIA R5. East Sweden Rally 2017 (Photo: Fredrik Värnebjörk)

But they didn’t have things all their own way as Per-Gunnar Andersson and his co-driver Emil Axelsson, who was Tidemand’s partner in 2015, put in an impressive showing in their ŠKODA FABIA WRC. They won and led the standings for three stages, before being forced to retire on SS5. That left the way clear for Tidemand, but he didn’t hold back, driving at full speed to give the fans a show despite the wet and slippery conditions.

Pontus Tidemand

The other FABIA R5 to finish high was the Riflex Sport car of Martin Hagman / Göran Schönqvist, who finished fifth in the overall standings and third in the Swedish championship results.

NEWS IN BRIEF

Finland

We begin in Finland at the SM Oili Jalonen Ralli (8th to 9th September), which was the sixth round of the Finnish Rally Championship. Teemu Asunmaa, driving a FABIA R5 for Hannu's Rally Team alongside co-driver Jonne Halttunen, led the Championship standings going into this event and looked all set to extend that lead as he led this event going into the penultimate stage. But a puncture cost him nearly 50 seconds and he ended up finishing in fourth place. He remains in prime position for the title, but his advantage is now narrower. Further down the field, the Printsport Oy cars of Jussi Vainionpää / Mika Juntunen, Kari Hämäläinen / Arto Kapanen and Jukka Kasi / Henri Ania finished seventh, tenth and eleventh overall respectively.

The Rally Nova Gorica (8th to 9th September) in Slovenia was the fourth round of the Central European Rally Trophy (CRT) and saw a victory for the Sports Racing Technologies FABIA R5 of Nikolay Gryazin / Yaroslav Fedorov. The Russian duo finished 1 minute and 48 seconds ahead of their closest rivals. Antonín Tlusťák / Ivo Vybíral, driving a FABIA R5 for Tlusťák Racing, came home in fourth place overall and second in the CRT standings, while the Eurosol Racing Team Hungary FABIA R5 of János Puskádi / Barnabás Gódor was eighth overall and fifth in the CRT standings.

The result of the sixth round of the Romanian Rally Championship, the Rally Iasi (8th to 9th September), remains up in the air. The ŠKODA România Motorsport FABIA R5 of Dan Gîrtofan / Tudor Mârza formally finished in second place, just 2 seconds behind the official winner Simone Tempestini. But Gîrtofan was given a 10-second penalty after stage 5 for what his team described as “a little impact with a part of a chicane”. They have appealed the penalty and a decision on whether it will be overturned, and therefore whether they will win the rally, will be made on Tuesday (12th September) evening. Further down the field, Zsolt Marozsi / Péter Mihalik brought their FABIA R5 home in sixth place overall.

France

To the Rallye Régional de la Vésubie (8th to 9th September) in the French Cup, where there was a win for Anthony Fotia / Magali Bortot in a FABIA R5 prepared and run by Roger Tuning. The 20-year old driver was driving his first ever event in an R5 car and ended up a comfortable 55.7 seconds clear of the field.

And there was more ŠKODA success in the French Cup at the Rallye National de Lisieux (8th to 10th September), where Pierre Ragues / Julien Pesenti finished 21.7 seconds ahead of the pack in their FABIA R5. It was Ragues’ third successive French Cup victory. “I could not be happier with this weekend’s rally result. We knew we had the pace and confidence to post fast times despite wet conditions and three stage wins on Saturday set us up strongly. After building up a very good lead, we managed the gap sensibly to ensure the win. The ŠKODA FABIA R5 and we managed to beat WRC machinery, which is a nice feeling,” said Pierre Ragues.

Italy

In Italy, the Rally San Martino di Castrozza (8th to 9th September) was the fifth round of the Italian WRC Championship (Campionato Italiano WRC). It saw the DP Autosport FABIA R5 of Efrem Bianco / Dino Lamonato finish first in class and sixth overall to strengthen their class series lead. Their closest rivals and fellow FABIA R5 crew Rudy Michelini / Michele Perna, driving for Movisport SRL, finished just behind them in seventh place overall and second in class.

Elsewhere in Italy, there were two FABIA R5s in the podium at the Rally Porta del Gargano (9th to 10th September), in the Italian regional series (Zone 7). Salvatore Riolo / Gianfrancesco Rappa (CST Sport, car prepared and run by P.A. Racing) finished in second place overall and first in class, just 14.7 seconds behind the overall winner. It was just Riolo’s second drive in a FABIA R5 and his second class win. Just behind him, in third place overall and second in class were Pietro Azzarone / Paolo De Filippo (Biella Corse).

To Belgium and the Aarova Rallysprint (10th September), where Vincent Verschueren / Gert Broekaert finished in second place, just 12.8 seconds behind the overall winner, while Frederic Miclotte / Jourdan Serderidis finished third.

Austria

And finally, the Austrian Motocross rider Matthias Walkner, who finished second at this year’s Dakar Rally and was the 2015 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion, has been enjoying some test time in a ŠKODA FABIA R5 alongside Austrian rallying legend Raimund Baumschlager. He seems to have impressed, with a possible drive with a zero car at the upcoming Rallye Liezen already on the cards.

COMING UP THIS WEEKEND

Date Rally Surface
15-17 Sep Rally di Roma Capitale European Rally C’ship
Italian Rally Championship
Round 7 Asphalt
15-17 Sep Rally Hokkaido Asia-Pacific Rally C’ship Round 4 Gravel
14-16 Sep Isle of Man Rally British Rally C’ship Round 7 Asphalt
14-16 Sep Rally Princesa de Asturias Spanish Rally C’ship Round 6 Asphalt
15-16 Sep Hellendoorn Rally Dutch Rally C’ship Round 6 Asphalt