As one of this year’s three WRC2 compulsory rallies, there will be no shortage of entrants in this category. This means alongside the ŠKODA Motorsport FABIA R5s of Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson and Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, there are also plenty of customer teams taking part as well. All will be hoping to help the ŠKODA FABIA R5 looking to extend its unbeaten season in the WRC2 championship.
Frenchman Quentin Gilbert will be looking to add to his podium finishes in the last two rounds at the Rally Poland, where he finished third, and the Rally Finland, where he went one better to come home second. But this event presents a new challenge as it will be his first on tarmac in a FABIA R5.
Gilbert, who will be competing alongside his Belgian co-driver Renaud Jamoul in a car prepared and run by the Tagai Racing Technology team, currently sits seventh in the WRC2 championship standings after competing in four events.
Mexican Benito Guerra jr. is just one place and one point behind Gilbert in the WRC2 standings. He will also be making his fifth start of the year and his tarmac debut in a FABIA R5 at the Rallye Deutschland.
Guerra, who drives for the Motorsport Italia team alongside co-driver Daniel Cué, has actually not driven on this surface at all since the Rally Catalunya in 2014, so it will be a big challenge for him to add to his two third place finishes this season, at the Rally Guanajuato Mexico and the Rally Argentina.
Meanwhile, the young German driver Marijan Griebel will be making his first ever WRC2 start at what is his home rally in a FABIA R5 for the BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team. He has however driven at the Rallye Deutschland at different classes in the past and in five previous appearances he has always won in his class.
Griebel has shown good form in the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) this season, finishing second at the Azores Rallye and third at the recent Rally Rzeszow, while he is also currently leading the ERC Junior U28 Championship standings. Ably supported by regular co-driver Stefan Kopczyk, Griebel will be hoping to bring that fine form in this event too.
Dutchman Bernhard ten Brinke will be another driver competing in a FABIA R5, under the Adapta AS WRT but in a car prepared and run by Wevers Sport. He finished sixth in the WRC2 standings here last year alongside co-driver Davy Thierie in his very first event at this level. However, this will be their first event of the season, so it remains to be seen what sort of form they are in.
The final FABIA R5 registered for WRC2 points will be the Styllex Motorsport car of Edwin Schilt and co-driver Lisette Bakker. Schilt competes only in selected events and whilst he did compete in Germany last season, he retired.
Also taking part, but not registered for WRC2 points, is the ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland FABIA R5 of Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian. Kreim, whose car is prepared and run by the Baumschlager Rallye & Racing team, is the current leader and reigning champion of the German Rally Championship, where he has won five of the six rallies he competed in this year.
Kreim has started the Rallye Deutschland on three previous occasions, with his two most recent appearances, in 2015 and 2016, being in the WRC2 category.
The final FABIA R5 lining up on the start line, but also not competing for WRC2 points, is that of Patrik Rujbr and co-driver Veronika Římalová. Rujbr is the reigning Czech Rallysprint Series champion and is making just his second ever start in a FABIA R5, after the Rally Pačejov at the end of July.
As ever, the ŠKODA Motorsport team extends its best wishes to all the FABIA R5 competitors at the Rallye Deutschland and will be keeping a close eye on the performance of each of them throughout the weekend.