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Socratis Tsolakidis wins Larissa Rally to clinch the Greek Rally Championship title ● Norbert Herczig clinches third successive Hungarian championship title after win at the Mecsek Rallye, where seven ŠKODA FABIA R5s finished inside the top 10 ● ŠKODA drivers finish first and second at the Rally Due Valli in Italy ● Mathieu Arzeno won the French Rally Cup Finale in Marseille ● And there is more success for FABIA R5 drivers in the Czech Republic, Estonia and the Azores

Řecko

Socratis Tsolakidis wins Larissa Rally to clinch Greek Rally Championship

Socratis Tsolakidis is the Greek rally champion after his victory at the Larissa Rally (13-15 October), the sixth and final round of the Greek championship, ensured that he would finish top of the standings.

Socratis Tsolakidis / Harris Dimos, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Historic Rally of Greece (Larissa Rally) 2017

Tsolakidis, who was driving alongside co-driver Harris Dimos in a ŠKODA FABIA R5 prepared end run by Eurosol Racing Team Hungary, came into this event with the narrow advantage, just 1.5 points, over rival Ioannis Badounas.

But the result was never in doubt as Tsolakidis led from start to finish and won all ten special stages on his way to a dominant victory, by a margin of 2 minutes and 5 seconds. The win was Tsolakidis’ third of the season after earlier wins at Day 1 of the Acropolis Rally National and the Rally DETH, which is enough to ensure he is crowned Greek rally champion. Tsolakidis has been Greek rally champion once before, way back in 2003, so it is a hugely impressive achievement to return to the top of Greek rallying after a gap of fourteen years.

Socratis Tsolakidis

In the end, his main rival Badounas was only able to finish in third place as the FABIA S2000 of Panagiotis Kampylis / Stavros Stamelos finished comfortably as runners-up, a sizable 2 minutes and 35 seconds ahead of Badounas after a very impressive drive. But, of course, the headlines were all about the new Greek rally champion Socratis Tsolakidis.

Norbert Herczig wins Mecsek Rallye to secure Hungarian title

There was a remarkable result for ŠKODA FABIA R5 drivers at the Mecsek Rallye (13-15 October), which was the sixth and penultimate round of the Hungarian Rally Championship, as no fewer than seven cars from Mladá Boleslav finished inside the Top 10. But the headlines were all about Norbert Herczig as he was crowned Hungarian rally champion for the third year in succession, and four time overall, after his win.

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

Herczig and co-driver Igor Bacigál were driving for the ŠKODA Rally Team Hungaria, in a car prepared and run by Baumschlager Rallye & Racing team. Herczig always appeared to be in control, winning four of the opening five special stages and leading from start to finish. But after holding a relatively comfortable lead of 19.8 seconds with two stages remaining, a wobble on the penultimate stage in which he finished eleventh after a minor incident, saw him drop 10.9 seconds and led to a tense final stage. But although Herczig didn’t win that stage, he did finish ahead of challenger Hadik to secure the victory.

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

In the end, he was 12.9 seconds ahead of title rival András Hadik to secure his third win and fifth podium of the season. And those points were enough to ensure that he would be the Hungarian rally champion for a fourth time.

Norbert Herczig

In third place was the S-Motorsport SE FABIA R5 of Ferenc Vincze Jr / Attila Bazsó, who secured their fourth successive podium finish, and fifth of the season. But they had to fight for it as they were pushed all the way by Péter Ranga / Tamás Szöke. Ranga, whose FABIA R5 was prepared and run by Topp Cars Rally Team for the Ranga Rally Team, finished just 1.3 seconds away from a podium.

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

Just behind them, in fifth place overall, was the Botka Rallye Team FABIA R5 of Dávid Botka / Márk Mesterházi and they were just 21.6 seconds in front of Róbert Bútor / Róbert Tagai. Bútor was driving just his second ever rally in a FABIA R5 (and any R5 car) for the Dynamic Rally Team. László Ranga Jr / Imre Tóth brought their Ranga Rally Team FABIA R5 home in eighth place overall, while the Extrém Sport Team Kft car of József Trencsényi / Gábor Verba was 3.6 seconds behind them in ninth.

The Hungarian Rally Championship will conclude with the Eger Rallye, which takes place from 3rd to 5th November, but whatever happens there, the 2017 champion is FABIA R5 driver Norbert Herczig.

Itálie

Luca Rossetti wins Rally Due Valli as Umberto Scandola falls agonizingly short in Italian title finale

The Rally Due Valli (13-15 October) was the eighth and final round of the Italian Rally Championship and had a 1.5 coefficient for points scored over each of the two legs. And it was P.A. Racing FABIA R5 of Luca Rossetti / Matteo Chiarcossi which took the overall victory.

Luca Rossetti / Matteo Chiarcossi, ŠKODA FABIA R5, PA Racing. Rally Due Valli 2017 (Photo: ACI sport)

Rossetti was second overall on the first leg but won each of the last three special stages of the day. He managed to keep that form going into the second leg as he won a further three stages and only finished outside the top 3 on one occasion to claim both the second leg and overall victory.

The ŠKODA Italia Motorsport pairing of Umberto Scandola / Guido D’Amore came into their home event still in contention for the overall title. But they had to win both legs and rally overall as well as hope results elsewhere went their way.

Umberto Scandola / Guido D'Amore, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Car Racing. Rally Due Valli 2017

But various issues during the first leg saw them only finish in third position, which left the title out of reach even before the second leg began. Ever the professional, Scandola continued to go all out despite his disappointment and a strong drive helped elevate him up to second place in the overall rally standings.

Luca Rossetti / Matteo Chiarcossi, ŠKODA FABIA R5, PA Racing. Rally Due Valli 2017

That result meant that Scandola moved up to second position in the Italian championship final standings too, but he was not able to secure enough points to get past Paolo Andreucci, who was crowned champion again. Further down the field, there was an impressive first drive in a FABIA R5 for Leopoldo Maestrini. Alongside co-driver Daniele Michi, he finished in eighth position overall for the Maremma Corse 2.0 team in a car prepared and run by P.A. Racing.

France

Mathieu Arzeno wins the French Rally Cup Final at Ste Baume

The ŠKODA FABIA R5 has enjoyed great success in the French Cup this season and that was to prove the case at the French Rally Cup Final (13-14 October), which saw no fewer than five ŠKODA FABIA R5s finish inside the top 8.

Mathieu Arzeno / Romain Roche, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Finale de la Coupe de France des Rallyes Marseille 2017

The winner was Mathieu Arzeno, who was driving a FABIA R5 prepared and run by Rally Service Racing alongside co-driver Romain Roche. It was an assured drive from Arzeno, who won all three special stages in the first leg and two more in the second leg as he won by a margin of 25 seconds after leading from start to finish. Since switching to a FABIA R5 earlier in the season, Arzeno has enjoyed a rare run of form, winning three of the four rallies he has entered prior to this one, which has culminated in his victory at this prestigious event.

Mathieu Arzeno

In third place were Paul-Antoine Santoni / Fabrice De Bartolo. They were in a FABIA R5 prepared and run by the Race Art Technology team and this was only the second event Santoni had driven in the car and the first he has finished. He drove a consistent rally, holding third place from SS3 onwards and ending up just 18.2 seconds off the runner’s up spot.

Paul-Antoine Santoni

There was a sixth place finish for Anthony Puppo / Fabrice Gordon, who were driving for the SARL SJ-3P team. Puppo has been one of the stars of the season in the French Cup winning a total of ten events as well as the Rallye d'Antibes - Côte d'Azur which was the round of the French Tarmac Rally Championship. But it never quite clicked for him at this event, where his highest stage finish was fifth. But in a close finish, he missed out on fifth place overall by just 0.9 seconds.

Anthony Puppo / Jérémy Cenci, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Finale de la Coupe de France des Rallyes Marseille 2017

Just 0.3 seconds behind him, in seventh overall, were Jean-Matthieu Leandri / Anthony Gorguilo, while Thibault Habouzit, who has also enjoyed an impressive season, winning four of the eighth events he has driven and never finishing off the podium, ended this event one place further back in eighth position. He had sat in second place overall after SS4 but a disastrous fifth stage saw him drop to thirtieth position and it was only thanks to an impressive recovery, including winning the final stage, that he managed to climb as far back up the leaderboard as he did.

NEWS IN BRIEF

Česko

Our roundup this week begins at the Rally Vsetín (13-14 October), which was the sixth and final round of the Czech Rallysprint Series, where FABIA R5s occupied the top two positions. The winner was the Rufa Sport pair of Grzegorz Grzyb / Bogusław Browiński from Poland. They finished 12.4 seconds ahead of Jaromír Tarabus / Daniel Trunkát, whose FABIA R5 was prepared and run by MM Rally Team. Remarkably, the FABIA WRC of Karel Trněný and his German co-driver Christian Doerr finished in fifth position, while Patrik Rujbr, who was driving just his third event in a FABIA R5 alongside co-driver Veronika Římalová, finished sixth overall.

In Estonia, the Saaremaa Rally (13-14 October) was the sixth and final round of the Estonian Rally Championship and saw Russians Nikolay Gryazin / Yaroslav Fedorov finish second overall an first in the R5 class for the Sports Racing Technologies team, with only WRC driver Ott Tänak ahead of them. Raul Jeets / Andrus Toom were one place further back in third for the Tehase Auto team, in a car prepared and run by Sports Racing Technologies. This was their first overall podium finish since the Rally Latvija in 2014. And in fourth place was the Printsport Oy FABIA R5 of Finns Tomi Tukiainen / Mikko Pohjanharju, in what was just their second drive in a FABIA R5 (and indeed any R5 car).

Portugalsko

And at the Açoreana Rali (13-14 October), the seventh and final round of the Azores Rally Championship in Portugal, there was a third place finish for Tiago Azevedo / Mário Castro. It was just Azevedo’s third drive in a FABIA R5 and his third podium finish with this car.

COMING UP THIS WEEKEND

Date Rally Round Surface
21-22 Oct Zambia International Rally African Rally Championship 7 Gravel
20-21 Oct 3-Städte-Rallye German Rally Championship 8 Asphalt
20-21 Oct Rally Santander Cantabria Spanish Rally Championship 8 Asphalt
20-22 Oct Rally Košice Slovak Rally Championship 7 Asphalt