120 years behind the wheel of racing legends

120 years behind the wheel of racing legends

MOTORSPORT 120 YEARS OF ŠKODA MOTORSPORT

ŠKODA is celebrating 120 years of motorsport successes this year. Check out this video of Jan Kopecký reminding us of some of the racing legends from the early days to the present.

30. 6. 2021

It all started 120 years ago with successes in motorcycle races, and in 1906 these achievements were followed by the first car racing trophies. Since then, ŠKODA Motorsport has collected countless trophies with dozens of different cars and in a wide range of disciplines.

The video includes the 1908 LAURIN & KLEMENT FC, one of the first racing cars made in Mladá Boleslav, and the amazing ŠKODA SPORT, a roadster that only missed out on a stunning result in the famous Le Mans 24 Hours in 1950 due to bad luck. And we can’t overlook the legendary ŠKODA 130 LR rally car, which Jan Kopecký took for a spin when we shot the video.

Legends of 120 years of ŠKODA MotorsportLegends of 120 years of ŠKODA Motorsport: 1. LAURIN & KLEMENT Slavia type B (1901), 2. ŠKODA 1100 OHC (1959), 3. ŠKODA Spider (1972), 4. ŠKODA 1000 MB Rallye (1967),  5. ŠKODA 130 RS (1976), 6. ŠKODA F3 (1965), 7. LAURIN & KLEMENT BSC (1908), 8. ŠKODA FABIA WRC (2003), 9. ŠKODA 440 Rally (1957), 10. ŠKODA FELICIA KitCar 1500 (1996), 11. ŠKODA OCTAVIA WRC (2003)

“That was the first time in my life I’ve driven a ŠKODA 130 LR, and I was absolutely thrilled. The car corners amazingly. It’s so addictive that I started to think about looking out for one,” says Kopecký, highlighting one of the high points of the shoot. “And driving a 113-year-old LAURIN & KLEMENT race car was an absolutely wonderful and special experience,” Kopecký adds, going even further back in history. “You can see that the car was made by true professionals back then, and from today’s point of view it’s almost unbelievable how functional the car is,” he adds.

P0A6974cisla 1. LAURIN & KLEMENT FC (1908), 2. ŠKODA SPORT ( 1949, a car that took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1950), 3. ŠKODA 130 LR (1986), 4. ŠKODA FAVORIT 136 L/A (1994), 5. ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo (2019)

Jan Kopecký is currently continuing this tradition of preparing state-of-the-art racing machinery. As a ŠKODA Motorsport test driver, he is working on further improvements to the FABIA Rally2 evo. He is optimistic about the future. “Motorsport is part and parcel of the ŠKODA brand, and this tradition enhances the brand’s appeal. And I’m convinced it will continue to do so for at least the next 120 years,” says Kopecký.

If you want to learn something, watch how the best do it

What ŠKODA cars did you follow before you started your racing career?
I always admired the 130 RS and its victory in the Monte Carlo Rally, but of course I was mainly interested in cars that were racing at the time. I really enjoyed watching the FELICIA KitCar, which had a lovely clean sound, and what Emil Triner and Pavel Sibera got up to in it was amazing. Then came the WRC era, and the OCTAVIA WRC that Armin Schwarz drove to the podium in the famous Safari Rally Kenya – that was a stunning result. And then there were the cars I had the privilege of driving: the FABIA WRC, FABIA S 2000, FABIA Rally2 and now the FABIA Rally2 evo.

Which drivers from the history of ŠKODA Motorsport do you remember the most?
My dad, a racing driver I used to go to practically every race with as a fan, always told me that if I wanted to learn something, I should watch how the best do it. So I watched Emil Triner, for example, who could do amazing things with the FAVORIT or FELICIA cars, which Pavel Sibera also excelled with, and I watched Roman Kresta and his mastery of the OCTAVIA WRC. They were right up there with the best.

How did your career develop? Today you are known as a rally driver, but it wasn’t always like that...
I enjoyed all sports when I was a kid, and my dad didn’t push me into motorsport. In the end I threw in my lot with motorsport at the age of eleven, beginning with karting and then moving on to circuit racing. Gradually, thanks in part to my friends, I got involved with rally driving, which my dad was a bit uncomfortable with because he regards it as a very dangerous discipline. He was always very supportive even so. I had come into contact with ŠKODA on the circuits, then I built the OCTAVIA rally car, and from 2008 until last year I was a works driver for ŠKODA. Now I’m involved in testing and, above all, developing ŠKODA rally cars.

What is the development process like for rally cars?
The competition never sleeps and you have to keep pushing the car forward. Everything improves over time: the engine, chassis, brakes... There are lots of things to work on, even if it looks like the car is already perfect. There will always be new materials, new technical solutions that allow us to go a little bit further. But all of that needs to be tested, so there’s a lot of work to be done.

How do you see the future of ŠKODA Motorsport?
I believe that while eMobility booms combustion engines will remain relevant in motorsport, possibly thanks to the development of alternative fuels. And whatever form motorsport takes as a whole, I am convinced that ŠKODA will continue to play an important role in it and its cars will still perform as well as ever, entertaining drivers and fans alike.

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