Celebrations in the sunshine on the Costa Daurada: ŠKODA Motorsport has repeated the one-two victory in WRC2 category from 2015 at the Rally Spain 2016. After a dramatic duel over 321.08 kilometres, it was the Czech champions Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler who triumphed this time, 15.3 seconds ahead of the second ŠKODA works duo Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson.
Last year, it was Tidemand who had claimed victory ahead of Kopecký at one of the most challenging rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar.
This battle for victory was a roller-coaster of emotions for the two ŠKODA works drivers and thrilled the tens of thousands of fans who lined the stages on the picturesque Costa Daurada for four days. Jan Kopecký had taken an early lead after winning Thursday’s opening stage on wet streets in the pulsating metropolis of Barcelona. Team-mate Pontus Tidemand moved ahead on the muddy gravel stages as the torrential rain continued on Friday. However, on Saturday his 3-second advantage had disappeared quickly on asphalt – Kopecký overcame tyre problems to reclaim the lead and went into the final day 14.3 seconds ahead. On Sunday, the 34-year-old Czech driver successfully held off Tidemand’s final attacks before throwing himself into delighted victory celebrations.
The experienced driver celebrated his second win with the FABIA R5 in the WRC2, having triumphed at the Rally Germany in 2015. In eight of the last nine WRC2 events, victory has gone to a driver in the high-tech four-wheel drive car from the Czech manufacturer. Works driver Esapekka Lappi won his home rally in Finland and claimed victory in Germany. Victory in Mexico, on Sardinia and at the Rally Poland went to Teemu Suninen, while Nicolás Fuchs triumphed for ŠKODA at the Rally Argentina. Works driver Tidemand celebrated a win at the Rally Portugal. However, he was unable to repeat his 2015 triumph in Spain.
Three ŠKODA drivers are still in with a chance of winning the WRC2 title with two rallies remaining this season, in Great Britain and Australia. Teemu Suninen finished in fifth place in Spain, driving a FABIA R5 for a privateer team Oreca, and is in second place in the overall standings with 103 points. He is followed by the works drivers Esapekka Lappi (82) and Jan Kopecký (80). The two ŠKODA Motorsport drivers have only competed in five races this season and still each have two chances to collect 25 points for a win. Suninen can only record points one more time. The Rally Great Britain (27 to 30 October) will host the big showdown between all three ŠKODA title challengers. WRC2 leader Elfyn Evans (GB/120 points) has already completed all seven rallies in which he can collect points for the overall standings this season.
|RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada 2016 – WRC2 final results:|
|1.||Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||3:22:08.7 hrs|
|2.||Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 15.3 sec|
|3.||Frigyes Turán / Gábor Zsíros
|Ford Fiesta R5||+ 14:54.1 min|
|4.||Jim Van den Heuvel / Jouri Dockx
|Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X||+ 25:02.6 min|
|5.||Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula
|ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 29:09.0 min|
The number of the rally: 18
What a demonstration: the ŠKODA FABIA R5 was the fastest car in the WRC2 class in 18 out of 19 special stages at the Rally Spain. Works driver Jan Kopecký delivered a convincing performance, recording the fastest time on twelve occasions. On the 38.95 kilometres of the longest special stage, Terra Alta 1, he shared the fastest time with French driver Julien Maurin, who was competing in a FABIA R5 for a privateer team. Works drivers Pontus Tidemand (5) and Teemu Suninen (1), in a customer car, recorded the other best times for ŠKODA.