Peruvian driver Nicolás Fuchs and his Argentinian co-driver Fernando Mussano delivered a stunning performance in the Rally Argentina to win the WRC2 category in their ŠKODA Fabia R5.
Fuchs, who had put in a solid performance in the Rally Guanajuanto México, the previous round of World Rally Championship, to finish fourth in category, excelled throughout the event and drove with an extraordinary level of consistency in spite of the challenging conditions he was faced with.
From the start of the rally he was at the top of the WRC2 field, but a damaged power steering pump led to dramatic scenes as he fought to control the car while co-driver Mussano stepped in to change gears for him.
Fuchs kept a level head throughout this drama and a puncture later in the event and drove with measured aggression throughout to win a number of stages as he ended up more than four and a half minutes ahead of his nearest WRC2 challenger and in tenth place overall. The win was a first WRC2 triumph for Nicolás Fuchs and Fernando Mussano and a second successive win for ŠKODA after Teemu Suninen won at the Rally Guanajuato México in March.
“The rally was harder than we thought, and at times I felt we were unlucky, but it was a rally we really wanted to win so it’s very special,” said Nicolás Fuchs afterwards. “We stuck to our strategy and it has really paid off us today. Fernando was a great co-driver throughout and credit must also go to all the team and the mechanics here and back in Lima. Now we look ahead to the Rally Portugal.”
Meanwhile, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and his Irish co-driver Killian Duffy, driving a ŠKODA Fabia R5 for the Culture & Sport Qatar Rally Team, also put in an impressive performance to finish third in the WRC2 category and 14th overall.
They led for a good portion of the rally following Fuchs’ problems, before falling victim to the conditions themselves as they dramatically rolled their Fabia R5. But they were quickly back on the road and drove hard to secure a third place finish.
“We rolled at a left corner and it took a long time to get the car back on the road,” explained Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari. “We changed the rear right tyre which was punctured and then lost more time driving to the finish because we had only two-wheel drive.”
It was testament to the whole team, and their Fabia R5, that they not only kept going, but finished on the podium and scored valuable WRC2 points as well.
Sadly, there was less good news for the other ŠKODA Fabia R5 competing, as the Paraguayan pairing of Didier Arias and Hector Nunes, who were driving the car of the TGS Worldwide OU team, were forced to retire on stage 15.
The WRC2 championship now returns to Europe with the fifth round taking place next month (19th – 22nd May) in Portugal. The Rally de Portugal will see the return of the ŠKODA Motorsport works team, as well as a number of other Fabia R5s, and promises to be an exciting and hugely challenging rally.