A promising start for ŠKODA at the Rally Germany. Three ŠKODA teams have claimed the top three positions in the WRC2 category after the first day of this classic event on asphalt among the vineyards of the Moselle, near Trier. Five out of 18 stages have been completed and German drivers Armin Kremer / Pirmin Winklhofer are leading their home rally.
They are followed by the ŠKODA Motorsport duo Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm. In third place are the Belgian drivers Ghislain de Mevius and Johan Jalet, who are also competing in a ŠKODA FABIA R5 at the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
Armin Kremer set two best times in the first two special stages to catapult himself to the top of the WRC2 standings – and last year’s winner Jan Kopecký was close behind early on. However, tyre problems on the second stage meant that the Czech driver, an asphalt specialist, lost about one and a half minutes. Kopecký recorded three best times on Friday afternoon to claw back the lost time and he ended the first of three rally days around Trier in fifth place (+1:34.8 minutes).
And it is true that the nine special stages scheduled to take place over 148.57 kilometres on the second day of the rally could well play a decisive role in determining the winner. The drivers will tackle the legendary “Panzerplatte” at the military training area in Baumholder five times, a challenge that will separate the wheat from the chaff at the Rally Germany. The tracks themselves are medium to fast – a mixture of asphalt roads and concrete paving that will be a severe test for the drivers and their cars.
Esapekka Lappi is well placed to enjoy a successful second day of rallying. On Friday, the winner of the Rally Finland took some controlled risks to finish in second place (+28.4 seconds).
The ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland duo of Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian did not enjoy quite as much luck as Lappi. The leaders of the German Rally Championship (DRM) were in eighth place, but were left standing at the start of the fourth special stage due to a technical problem. On Saturday, they will return thanks to the Rally2 regulations, and will hope to put on a really good show for the many German fans at the track.
On the subject of a good show: on Friday, the ŠKODA works duo of Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson put on a superb performance in the third FABIA R5 in ŠKODA Motorsport colours. Their stage times would have been good enough to land them in second place in the WRC2 standings. However, the Swedish drivers had not registered for the WRC2 category at the Rally Germany, which means that they can‘t score any WRC2 championship points.
|Rally Germany 2016 – WRC2 classification after 5 of 18 stages:|
|1.||Armin Kremer / Primin Winklhofer
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||1h2m45.7s|
|2.||Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 28.4s|
|3.||Ghislain de Mevius / Johan Jalet
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 1m08.7s|
|4.||Pierre Loubet / Vincent Landais
|Citroën DS3 R5||+ 1m29.6s|
|5.||Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler
|ŠKODA FABIA R5*||+ 1m34.8s|
The number of the day: 200
ŠKODA had something to celebrate on Friday: Jan Kopecký’s best time on the fifth special stage was the 200th stage win for the FABIA R5 in the WRC2 category in the FIA World Rally Championship. The high-tech four-wheel drive car from Mladá Boleslav debuted on the world stage in April 2015. The works duo of Pontus Tidemand / Emil Axelsson (S/S) claimed the fourth consecutive APRC title for ŠKODA in the very first season with the new ŠKODA FABIA R5. This rally car has also won five national titles in 2015.