ŠKODA Motorsport’s hopes are resting on asphalt specialist Jan Kopecký at the Rallye de France on Corsica. Together with his co-driver Pavel Dresler, the experienced Czech is aiming to continue the sequence of successes for ŠKODA in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at the “Rally of 10,000 Corners”. The ŠKODA FABIA R5 has now recorded seven consecutive wins in the WRC2 category. A month ago at the Rally Germany, Kopecký claimed second place behind his team-mate Esapekka Lappi.
The Rallye de France on Corsica is a special test of man and machine. No-one has any time to get used to it: The drivers have to tackle 49.72 kilometres on the very first stage, Acqua Doria–Albitreccia. The remaining 341.20 kilometres on the Mediterranean island consist of further special stages of similar length, which challenge the drivers mentally and physically.
The Czech driver finished in second place three times between 2011 and 2013 at the Tour de Corse. In 2011 and 2012, the rally was part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) and in 2013 it was part of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC). The classic rally returned to the world championship schedule last year.
At the Rallye de France, Kopecký will be aiming to add more points to his total in the drivers’ standings and retain his theoretical chance of claiming the WRC2 World Championship title. The 34-year-old Czech driver is currently in eighth place with 37 points, having competed in just three rallies thus far. WRC2 championship leader Elfyn Evans (M-Sport Ford/95 points) is likely to pose the biggest threat to the asphalt specialist on Corsica, as the Rallye de France is his last chance to score points this year. Each WRC2 driver can score points in seven rallies and the best six results decide who is crowned champion. The remaining four rallies in France, Spain, Great Britain and Australia will be decisive.
The last seven WRC2 rallies have seen a ŠKODA FABIA R5 driver winning. Works driver Lappi won his home rally in Finland and triumphed again in Germany, while team-mate Pontus Tidemand celebrated a win at the Rally de Portugal. Victory in Mexico, on Sardinia and at the Rally Poland went to Suninen, while Nicolás Fuchs triumphed for ŠKODA at the Rally Argentina.
Did you know that…
…Gilberte Thirion / Nadège Ferrier were the first winners of the Tour de Corse?
The first rally on Corsica was held in 1956 and was one of the most important national rallies.
…the Rallye de France has been won by a local driver 29 times in the past?
The event has featured on the world championship calendar 40 times in total.
…the drivers only score points towards the world championship if they have registered for the WRC2 category?
Each driver can pick up points towards the WRC2 standings in seven selected rallies. The six best results count towards the overall standings. ŠKODA customer driver Suninen, currently second in the world championship (93 points), has so far registered for the WRC2 category at five world championship rallies, winning three times and finishing runner-up on one occasion. Works driver Lappi is third in the world championship (82 points) after starting five WRC2 rallies (two wins). His team-mate Kopecký is eighth, having only contested three rounds in the WRC2 category.
…ŠKODA boasts six drivers in the top eight of the overall standings in WRC2?
Britain’s Elfyn Evans (95 points from six starts) leads the way after ten of the season’s 14 events. However, he is followed in places two to seven by six drivers in the ŠKODA FABIA R5: Teemu Suninen (93/five starts), works driver Esapekka Lappi (82/five starts), Nicolás Fuchs (59/five starts), Armin Kremer (55/five starts), works driver Pontus Tidemand (49/four starts) and Jan Kopecký (37/three starts).
…Corsica’s capital Ajaccio is the birthplace of Napoléon Bonaparte?
The former French emperor was born in what is now the capital in 1769. Today, it is still possible to visit the house in which the French general was born, including the trapdoor, through which Napoléon escaped from his house when he fled Corsica in 1793.
…Corsica, with an area of 8,680 square kilometres, is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean, after Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus?
For comparison: the popular tourist island of Mallorca, at 3,640 square kilometres, is not half as large as Corsica.
…a poisonous spider is widespread on Corsica?
The poison of the European Black Widow may not be as strong as the closely-related Southern Black Widow, but it is still a dangerous species. The effect of a bite is comparable to being stung by a wasp. Cases ending in fatalities are extremely rare.
…France is not only an important motorsport venue for ŠKODA?
ŠKODA has been a partner of the iconic Tour de France cycle race since 2004. This year’s three-week race saw the 250-strong fleet of ŠKODA cars cover approximately 2.8 million kilometres. It was through the manufacture of bicycles that ŠKODA’s founding fathers Laurin and Klement laid the foundations for the brand’s success story in 1895.