But the ŠKODA Motorsport team is also using this rally as preparation for the next round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), the Tour de Corse (5-8 April), which is why the young Norwegian works team driver Ole Christian Veiby is also taking part this year as he looks to gain more experience competing on tarmac. In total, there will be two works ŠKODA FABIA R5 cars and a further seven customer teams also taking part.
The Valašská Rally is a tarmac event which takes place in the north-east of the Czech Republic in and around the town of Valašské Meziříčí. All of the stages take place in the hills around Valašské Meziříčí and the neighbouring town of Kopřivnice. Kopřivnice is the home to the factory of Tatra Trucks and two of the Sunday stages will be taking place on its test track. The shortest stage of the rally is the 2.72 km long street stage in Valašské Meziříčí, which is new for this year. Meanwhile, the longest stage is Lešná, which runs to 20.3 km, as part of an overall rally distance of 172.62 km split into 15 special stages.
The Valašská Rally returned to the MČR calendar last year for the first time since 2012. But that didn’t stop ŠKODA Motorsport’s Jan Kopecký from dominating here as he did everywhere else. In 2017, Kopecký went fastest on 11 out of 12 special stages on his way to victory by a margin of 1 minute and 11 seconds. He also won this rally in 2011 in a FABIA S2000 alongside co-driver Petr Starý, and in 2012 in the same car but with Pavel Dresler as his co-driver. This rally will be his first start in the Czech Rally Championship since the Barum Czech Rally Zlín last August. But he comes into the rally in fine form, having won the WRC2 category at the Rallye Monte Carlo in January and undefeated in any MČR event he has driven for past three years.
The other ŠKODA Motorsport FABIA R5 will be driven by Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby and his regular co-driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen. In contrast to the experience of his teammate Kopecký, this will be Veiby’s first-ever rally in the Czech Republic. But he will be competing at the Tour de Corse in the next round of the WRC2 championship, so this event offers him a great opportunity to get some kilometres under his belt on tarmac. Veiby has made a positive start in his two WRC2 events for ŠKODA Motorsport so far, with a third-place finish at the Rally Sweden already under his belt this season. It will also be interesting for Czech ŠKODA fans to see their new works driver up close.
Of the 85 cars currently registered to compete at the Valašská Rally, there will be a total of 23 ŠKODAs. In addition to the works drivers, there will be a total of seven other FABIA R5s competing too.