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ŠKODA Motorsport teams Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler and Juuso Nordgren / Tapio Suominen faced a challenging start at RallyRACC Catalunya – Rallye de España, the Spanish round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5 Czech Rally Champion Jan Kopecký was delayed during the third stage when he caught the competitor in front of him. Due to visibility problems in the dust he lost more than one minute. In the same stage, Juuso Nordgren almost had to stop when a competitor blocked the road after an accident. Putting those mishaps aside both ŠKODA factory teams fought back to third respective fifth position in the overall standings of the WRC2 category.

The Spanish round of the World Rally Championship, RallyRACC Catalunya – Rallye de España, offers a unique challenge. It is the championship’s only mixed surface rally. The first leg on Friday was run mainly on gravel. After two pure gravel stages over 12.5 and 6.5 kilometres, the third stage “Terra Alta” offered nearly 39 kilometres of gravel and some tarmac sections. 

Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, Juuso Nordgren / Tapio Suominen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada 2017

This classic Catalunya stage caused all kind of dramas in the WRC2 field. ŠKODA Motorsport’s Jan Kopecký caught the car in front of him (which was started three minutes ahead of him) and had to complete the last part of the stage in his competitor’s dust. Delayed by more than a minute he dropped from second to fourth position.

Jan Kopecký

At the end of the day, with the fastest time on the last test, the Czech champion moved back into third position in the WRC2 category.

Juuso Nordgren / Tapio Suominen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada 2017

Youngster Juuso Nordgren, competing in one of the factory team’s ŠKODA FABIA R5 for the very first time, also had a special moment.

Juuso Nordgren

He was third fastest in the last three stages of the day and moved up to fifth position at the end of leg one.

Michal Hrabánek

At the evening service in Salou the cars were changed from gravel to tarmac specification. They were equipped with bigger brakes, tarmac suspension and slick tyres. On Saturday and Sunday, all stages are entirely run on asphalt. Saturday will be the longest day of the rally, featuring seven stages totalling around 122 kilometres.

2017 RallyRACC Catalunya – WRC2 Standings After Leg 1:
1. Suninen / Markkula (FIN/FIN) Ford Fiesta R5 1:15:16.6 hrs
2. Tempestini / Barnacchini (ITA/ITA) Citroën DS3 R5 +1:17.2 min
3. Kopecký / Dresler (CZE/CZE) ŠKODA FABIA R5 +1:18.8 min
4. Guerra / Cué (MEX/ESP) ŠKODA FABIA R5 +1:44.4 min
5. Nordgren / Suominen (FIN/FIN) ŠKODA FABIA R5 +2:31.9 min

Number of the day: 75

At the evening service the mechanics had 75 minutes to completely change the ŠKODA FABIA R5 from a car with gravel specification to a race car with tarmac set up for the remaining 13 asphalt stages on Saturday and Sunday. Mainly suspension, brakes and tyres will be changed by the ŠKODA Motorsport mechanics.