Three ŠKODA drivers will be fighting to keep their title hopes alive in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in the WRC2 category at the Wales Rally GB. For works drivers Esapekka Lappi and Jan Kopecký, as well as Teemu Suninen in a ŠKODA FABIA R5 run by a private Team Oreca, the penultimate round of the season from Friday to Saturday will go a long way to deciding who ends the year as champion.

ŠKODA Motorsport is represented by three duos on the notorious Welsh gravel routes: Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm, Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler and Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson.

The Rally Great Britain is regarded as one of the biggest challenges on the WRC calendar. Meteorologists agree that the weather in Wales is particularly unsettled. As well as unforeseeable weather, the crews are also faced with unpredictable surfaces. Parts of the gravel rally soon transform into a mud and sludge rally. For a total 332.87 kilometres against the clock, spread over 22 special stages, the drivers struggle with extremely low grip levels and the constant risk of crashing and ruining any hopes of success.

Despite this, Esapekka Lappi, who sat the last two rallies out, is looking forward to the Rally Great Britain.

Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada 2016
Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada 2016

Jan Kopecký is also riding the crest of a wave after his victory at the Rally Spain.

The position is clear: ahead of the final two rallies in Great Britain and Australia, three ŠKODA drivers are still in contention in WRC2. Teemu Suninen remains in second place with 105 points. He is followed by the two works drivers Esapekka Lappi (82) and Jan Kopecký (80). However, the two ŠKODA Motorsport drivers have competed in just five events this season, meaning they both have another two chances to pick up the 25 points on offer for a win. Suninen, on the other hand, can only pick up points at the Rally Great Britain. WRC2 leader Elfyn Evans (GB/120 points) has already contested his full quota of seven rallies, at which he can score points towards the overall standings.

The chances of another ŠKODA triumph in Great Britain are looking good. After all, eight of the last nine WRC2 events have been won by a driver at the wheel of the Czech carmaker’s high-tech four-wheel drive car. Works driver Jan Kopecký won the Rally Spain last time out. Team-mate Esapekka Lappi was victorious at his home rally in Finland and in Germany. Teemu Suninen came out on top in Mexico, Sardinia and Poland, while Nicolás Fuchs won the Rally Argentina for ŠKODA. Works driver Tidemand claimed victory at the Rally Portugal. The Swede may no longer be in with a shout of winning the title, but is out to show his potential in Great Britain.

Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada 2016
Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada 2016

Did you know that…

…the Rally Great Britain is one of the absolute classics of the rally world and was held for the first time in 1932?
Back then it was known as the “Royal Automobile Club Rally” and featured 367 crews.

…the Rally Great Britain predominantly takes place in Wales?
This year it will return briefly to England for the first time since 1999. The Cholmondeley Castle stage is the final challenge facing the drivers on Saturday.

…no fewer than eight ŠKODA FABIAs have registered for the Rally Great Britain?
As well as the three works duos of Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN), Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ) and Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson (S/S), five customer duos have also signed up for the WRC2 class: Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (FIN/FIN), Nicolás Fuchs / Fernando Mussano (PE/ARG) Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari / Killian Duffi (Q/IRL), Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjærmoen (N/N) and David Bogie / Kevin Rae (GB/GB).

…ŠKODA Motorsport leads the Team Standings in WRC2?
The Czech manufacturer tops the overall standings with 144 points, ahead of M-Sport (131) and Oreca (99).

…the drivers can only score world championship points if they have registered for the WRC2 category?
Each driver can score points towards the overall WRC2 standings in seven rallies over the course of the year. The six best results count.

…ŠKODA has six drivers in the top seven places in the overall WRC2 standings?
After 11 of the season’s 13 rallies, the chasing pack behind British leader Elfyn Evans (120 points from six starts so far) consists solely of FABIA R5 drivers: Teemu Suninen (105/six starts), works driver Esapekka Lappi (82/five starts), Jan Kopecký (80/five starts), Pontus Tidemand (67/five starts), Nicolás Fuchs (59/five starts) and Armin Kremer (D/55/six starts).

…one of the wettest places in Europe is located in Wales?
The heaviest rain falls in the Snowdonia National Park, in the north-west of Wales, at the time of the rally – between October and March. Meteorologists record annual rainfall of about 3,000 millimetres here.

…the Rally Great Britain was cancelled in 1957 due to the Suez crisis and a fuel shortage?

…the 1986 Rally Great Britain was the last time Group B cars were used?
Following the season finale in Great Britain, the “turbo monsters” were banned from the World Rally Championship for being too fast and too dangerous.