Works driver Jan Kopecký and his co-driver Pavel Dresler claimed the 20th podium finish in WRC2 category for ŠKODA Motorsport with the FABIA R5 in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). The experienced Czech driver finished second at the infamous Rallye de France on the Mediterranean island of Corsica.

Asphalt specialist Kopecký was embroiled in a thrilling battle with eventual winner Elfyn Evans over 390.92 kilometres against the clock and underlined his class with victory on five of the ten special stages.

Endless corners, blazing sunshine, and heavy showers on Saturday – the “Rally of 10,000 Corners” put the drivers and cars through their paces over the three days on Corsica. This was underlined by the fact that only four cars in the WRC2 class completed all stages of the rally. These included two ŠKODA FABIA R5. Frenchman Julien Maurin, at the wheel of his customer car, finished fourth at his home rally.

ŠKODA works driver Kopecký thrilled thousands of spectators along the route with his battle for class victory with Ford driver Elfyn Evans. The very first stage, Aqua Doria – Albitreccia 1, ultimately proved to be pivotal, with Kopecký dropping 17.9 seconds over the course of 49.72 kilometres. The 34-year-old Czech was playing catch-up from this point on, and although able to close the gap to Evans, courtesy of some blistering times, he was unable to overtake the experienced WRC driver in the overall standings.

Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rallye de France - Tour de Corse 2016
Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rallye de France – Tour de Corse 2016

As such, Kopecký once again had to settle for second place at the Tour de Corse – the same position he occupied for three years in a row between 2011 and 2013. The rally formed part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) in 2011 and 2012, and belonged to the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) in 2013. The iconic rally returned to the world championship calendar last year.

The previous seven rounds of the WRC2 had all been won by a driver in ŠKODA FABIA R5. Works driver Esapekka Lappi won his home rally in Finland and in Germany, while team-mate Pontus Tidemand triumphed at the Rally Portugal. Teemu Suninen was victorious in a FABIA R5 in Mexico, at the Rally Italy on Sardinia and at the Rally Poland. Nicolás Fuchs won for ŠKODA at the Rally Argentina.

Elfyn Evans extended his overall lead in the WRC2 class, and now has 120 points to his name. However, the title race is still wide open, as the Brit has no further opportunities to score points. He has already contested the maximum seven rallies, in which it is possible to score points towards the overall standings. Suninen (93 points) and ŠKODA works driver Lappi (82) both have a further two opportunities in their FABIA R5 with three championship rounds remaining and 25 points on offer for a rally win.

Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rallye de France - Tour de Corse 2016
Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rallye de France – Tour de Corse 2016

The other two ŠKODA works drivers, Jan Kopecký (55 points) and Pontus Tidemand (49), also still have a mathematical chance of clinching the title. For this to be possible, however, they would have to win all three remaining rallies. The first opportunity for Kopecký and Tidemand to underline their title credentials comes at the Rally Spain from 13th to 16th October, where they will represent the ŠKODA Motorsport team.

Rallye de France – WRC2 Final Results:
1. Elfyn Evans / Craig Parry
Ford Fiesta R5 4:14:22.0 hrs
2. Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler
ŠKODA FABIA R5 + 33.3 sec
3. Yoann Bonato / Benjamin Boulloud
Citroën DS3 R5 + 3:39.6 min
4. Julien Maurin / Gilles Thimonier
ŠKODA FABIA R5 + 4:10.1 min

The number for the rally: 6

ŠKODA works driver Jan Kopecký made it onto the podium in his category in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with the ŠKODA FABIA R5 for the sixth time at the Rally France. He finished third in WRC2 at the 2015 Rally Italy on Sardinia, before claiming his maiden WRC2 victory at the Rally Germany. He followed this with second place at the Rally Spain. This year, Kopecký and his co-driver Pavel Dresler finished runner-up at the Rally Italy, Rally Germany and now the Rally France.