The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is back once again this weekend (13th to 16th October) with the RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada taking place in the north-eastern Spanish region of Catalunya. It is the only rally on the WRC calendar to take place on mixed surfaces, with both gravel and asphalt stages making up the 19 special stages and 321km of competitive distance.
It is a special event for ŠKODA too after the 2015 edition of the event saw a remarkable ‘1-2-3-4’ finish for FABIA R5s in the WRC2 standings. And there are no shortage of FABIA R5s lining up this year hoping to contribute to a repeat performance.
ŠKODA Motorsport will be represented by two cars, the Swedish pairing of Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson and the Czech duo of Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler, and there will also be seven ŠKODA Customer Teams’ FABIA R5s on the starting line as well.
For Teemu Suninen and his co-driver Mikko Markkula, this will be their sixth and penultimate nominated WRC2 event of the season. They already have three wins in their Team Oreca’s FABIA R5 under their belts at the Rally Guanajuato México, the Rally Italia Sardegna and the Rally Poland, and remain firmly in the mix for the WRC2 title.
Suninen spent time earlier this year at the Vittorio Caneva rally school to improve his asphalt driving skills and also participated in the recent Tour de Corse, where he finished a respectable 5th in RC2 class, despite not being entered in the WRC2 standings.
Armin Kremer and his co-driver Pirmin Winklhofer will also be taking part in their sixth nominated event in a FABIA R5 prepared by the BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing team. They finished fourth in this event last year, missing out on a podium place by just one-tenth of a second. And so far, this season have achieved two WRC2 podium finishes, coming second in the Rallye Monte Carlo and third at their home event, the Rallye Deutschland.
They have prepared on both surfaces for this event and speaking before the event seemed cautiously optimistic that they could add some points to a total that sees them currently sitting 6th in the WRC2 championship standings.
For Frenchman Julien Maurin, accompanied here by new co-driver Valentin Sarreaud, this will be his seventh and final nominated event of the WRC2 season. Driving a FABIA R5 prepared and run by the 2C Compétition team, Maurin has enjoyed mixed fortunes in the WRC campaign this season, with his best result coming with a fourth place finish in the WRC2 standings in the previous event, the Tour de Corse. And he will be hoping to improve on that result again in Spain.
Ghislain de Mevius will also be on the starting line in this rally, after missing the Tour de Corse, as he was recovering from a small surgical procedure. He will be in a FABIA R5 prepared and run by BMA Bernard Munster Autosport alongside regular co-driver Johan Jalet.
De Mevius has started only two WRC events in a FABIA R5 so far, but he has impressed in both, finishing 6th in the WRC2 standings in the Rally de Portugal and 4th at the Rallye Deutschland. In what will only be his third event, he will be hoping to improve still further and challenge for a place on the podium.
For Italian Max Rendina and his co-driver Emanuele Inglesi, this will be just their second WRC2 event of the season in a FABIA R5, and 4th overall. After being forced to retire last time out, they will be hoping to match their best performance of the season so far, which took place at the Rally Guanajuato México, where they claimed 3rd place in the WRC2 standings. They will be driving a car prepared and run by the Motorsport Italia team.
Meanwhile, Ole Christian Veiby and his co-driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen will be back in a FABIA R5 for the first time at a WRC event since the Rally Sweden. They finished sixth in the WRC2 standings then and have also enjoyed two victories and two-second places at regional events in Finland and Norway in the car, which is prepared and run by Printsport Oy. Veiby currently sits 3rd in the provisional standings of the WRC3 championship, but this event will be just his second ever WRC2 event.
And last but by no means least, comes Bernhard ten Brinke who will be driving a FABIA R5 prepared and run by the Wevers Sport team, along with co-driver Davy Thierie. It will be just his second ever WRC2 event as well, and he also enjoyed a sixth-placed finish on his debut, at the Rallye Deutschland.
In their other events of the year, they have secured second-place finishes at the ELE Rally in Holland and the Omloop van Vlaanderen in Belgium. These results should see them coming into this event full of confidence that they mix with the star names in the WRC2 field once again, despite the new challenges they will face.
Qatari driver Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari does also appear on the entry list for this event in a FABIA R5, but he is unfortunately unable to participate.
The RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada promises to be a scintillating and entertaining rally, and of course you will be able to keep up with the performance of all the FABIA R5 drivers right here on the ŠKODA Motorsport website.