Exploring the magnificent Alps in RS models

Exploring the magnificent Alps in RS models

Alpine peaks, breathtaking passes, stunning views and a generous helping of hairpin bends. Three videos, three fabulous road trips, three Škoda RS models. Join the fun!

18. 10. 2023 Lifestyle

Czech rally driver Erik Cais and his Swedish navigator Julia Thulin visited several interesting places in the Alps, stopped for tasty meals and took in stunning landscapes and sights. Check out our three-part series and get inspired – both from our tips for places to see and from some good advice on how to enjoy a great mountain drive behind the wheel.

Part One: Cortina

We start nice and high in the Dolomites on the border between Italy and Switzerland. The road starts in Canazei and continues northwards past Piz Boè, which at 3,152 metres is the highest peak in the mountain group known as the Sella. It then passes through the mountain resorts of Plan de Gralba and Val di Fassa to Arabba and ends in the famous Cortina d’Ampezzo, where the Bond film For Your Eyes Only was filmed and where the Winter Olympics will be held for the second time in 2026.

The two rally pros are driving a Kodiaq RS. Despite its high ground clearance, they appreciate the ease with which the car handles the hairpins. Understeer is not a problem with this car. They also heap praise on the two-litre TSI engine, which has plenty of power in the lower and middle revs, a big advantage on twisting mountain roads.

Erik Cais is a Czech rally driver. Before getting into motorsport he was a downhill cycling racer. In 2020 Britain’s Motorsport News called him one of the ten greatest rally talents in the world who hasn’t yet competed in the highest WRC competition. His debut in the world championship came in the 2021 Qatar Rally, when he finished third in WRC2. He sensationally won his first ever Rally Monte Carlo in WRC2 Junior. At the end of last year he announced an ambitious plan for 2023, featuring seven starts in WRC2 and five in FIA ERC in a brand new Škoda Fabia RS Rally2.


Part two: two passes

For the second act in the series, Erik and Julia switch to an Enyaq Coupé RS. They appreciate its graceful side silhouette, dynamic front lines and appealing body colour. Its handling is outstanding – thanks to its low centre of gravity and rigid chassis, the car is as stable as though it’s on rails and responds perfectly to the driver’s prompts. Another plus in the mountains is the fact that, unlike internal combustion engines, the electric drive does not run out of breath as the altitude increases.

Which is handy, because this stage takes place in the heart of the Swiss Alps, and the crew set an altitude record for the expedition during the stage. The first objective is the Furka Pass, made famous by the 1964 Bond film Goldfinger starring Sean Connery. The Furka Pass lies at an altitude of 2,429 metres and connects the Urseren valley in the canton of Uri with the district of Goms in the canton of Valais. In the western valley town of Gletsch, the road to the Furka Pass branches off to the Grimselpass, which is Erik and Julia’s  second destination this time. On the northern side of the pass there are three reservoirs connected by tunnels. The northern part of the Grimsel region is home to the Gelmersee reservoir, and this lake is the finish line for the rally pros’ road trips in Škoda RS models.

Julia Thulin is a Swedish navigator who has competed in rally racing since 2016. Last year marked a breakthrough season for her: with Estonian driver Robert Virves she won the Rally Acropolis in Junior WRC, and later came out top for the season. At the Estonia Rally her team set a new record for the highest number of time trials during one race – 17 in total, one more than Sébastian Ogier managed at the Jordan Rally in 2008. 


Part three: Lakes as far as the eye can see

The third day of mountains and hairpins starts at Lake Montespluga and heads towards the first pass of the stage, the Swiss Splügenpass (Passo dello Spluga in Italian). This pass, known to the ancient Romans, separates two mountain groups – Tambo to the west and Platta to the east – forming the divide between the Western and Eastern Alps. By the way, do you know what the famous trio from Top Gear said about Splügenpass? Find out in this video.

This time their car is an Octavia RS. Erik likes its extended body overhang, which lets the car throw itself into corners, and how easily the flexible engine sends the rev counter into the red. The front electronic limited-slip differential is also excellent, he says, delivering agility and confidence when coming out of corners, even though the car does not have four-wheel drive.

Erik and Julia continue climbing to 2,067 metres above sea level to the San Bernardino Pass, with its famous tunnel between Hinterrhein and San Bernardino that was opened to traffic in December 1967. Below the pass in the Moesa River valley, some 56 kilometres south-west of the canton capital of Churu, lies the village of Mesocco, where Erik and Julia’s  second road trip ends.

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