120 years of international rally trophies for ŠKODA cars

120 years of international rally trophies for ŠKODA cars

Explore a little virtual gallery of prestigious motorsport prizes ŠKODA has notched up at home and abroad in the last 120 years.

22. 3. 2021 Lifestyle Motorsport 120 YEARS OF ŠKODA MOTORSPORT

Of course, there is not enough space here to list all the successes, prizes, diplomas, cups, plaques and laurels in ŠKODA’s trophy cabinet. But take a look back at some of the interesting stories of drivers in cars bearing the L&K and ŠKODA badges in motorsport competitions on several continents. Today, these prizes adorn the headquarters of ŠKODA Motorsport or are among the treasures found in the extensive collections of the ŠKODA Museum in Mladá Boleslav.

1909: Prince Erich von Thurn and Taxis’ “Industry Prize” 

The fast and exceptionally reliable LAURIN & KLEMENT cars were not only frontrunners in endurance races that were the predecessors of today's rally competitions. They also excelled at hill climbs that used to be a hugely popular race format. An impressive series of victories was crowned by the “Industry Prize” devised in 1909 by Prince Erich von Thurn and Taxis. The prize would go to the carmaker that won the most motorsport prizes in 1909, 1910 and 1911 chosen by the carmaker from a list drawn up by the Austrian Automobile Club. L&K’s repeated victories cheesed off its competitors so badly that in the following year 1912 members of the Automotive Industry Association of Austria decided to boycott all motorsport events held in the Austro-Hungarian Empire – with the exception of the Alpine Rally...  

1914: Alpine Rally 

The Alpine Rally, which started in Vienna and proceeded through dozens of mountain passes high in the Alps, was one of the most demanding motorsport events of the early 20th century. The huge trophy, the “Grand Alpine Travelling Prize”, comes from 1914. The organiser, the Austrian Automobile Club, commissioned the creation of a gorgeous work of art for the trophy. The value of the materials used alone was around 10,000 crowns, the price of an expensive car. The trophy would be given to the driver who avoided picking up any penalty points in 1912, 1913 and 1914. But five drivers achieved that. So the automobile club awarded all five with faithful casts of the original trophy. LAURIN & KLEMENT’s exceptional achievement was to notch up not three but five victories in a row (1910-1914), something no other manufacturer managed. 

1964: Shell 4000 Rally

At the start of the 1960s, the ŠKODA OCTAVIA series were some of the best rally cars of their engine category. Besides a hat-trick of first places at the Monte Carlo Rally (1961, 1962 and 1963) and victories in other events in Europe, it repeatedly shone overseas as well, including in the extremely demanding Shell 4000 Rally across the vast expanse of Canada from Montreal to Vancouver. The event’s name refers to the length of the course: 4,000 miles, or around 6,437 kilometres. The participants’ mandatory equipment included rubber boots for wading through marshes and a flare gun for summoning help. In 1962 a ŠKODA OCTAVIA Super was the only European car to survive the endless stretches of demanding terrain. The trophy shown is from the following year’s event, held on 18-24 April 1964, and commemorates the 1st, 2nd and 4th place finishes achieved by the team with the slightly more powerful OCTAVIA TS 1200 in their category rankings. What’s more, ŠKODA became the second most successful car brand in the event.     

1971: Wiesbaden Rally

The original trophy comes from the Wiesbaden Rally in Germany. The 1971 race marked the event’s fiftieth year. The ŠKODA Š 110 L Rally sedans, with a rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive, dominated their category, taking 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th places! The story of the rally itself is also interesting. Originally a West German event, in 1968-1973 part of the course was in the then Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. The Prague automobile club, and later the Klatovy automobile club, were involved in organising the event. But the socialist Czechoslovakia’s policy of “normalisation” was not keen on cooperation with capitalist countries. With Czechoslovakia closing itself off from the west, the rally organisers tried to move part of the event to France, but this didn’t work out and the rally never regained its former glory. 

1977: ŠKODA Rally

A representative of the series of numerous trophies documenting the triumphs of the ŠKODA 130 RS coupé, one of the most successful 1.3 litre engine cars of the 1970s, in rally and circuit races of the day. The competition version of the famous Š 130 RS, dubbed the “Porsche of the East” because of its rear-mounted engine and sporty nature, made its debut on the course of the international ŠKODA Rally in July 1976. The works crew of Václav Blahna and Lubislav Hlávka secured outright victory for the brand, leaving 181 crews from 11 countries in their wake. Our trophy from 1977 commemorates the second of five consecutive victories notched up by the ŠKODA 130 RS, then piloted by Norwegian driver John Haugland. 

1994: Monte Carlo Rally

In 1987 the brand new ŠKODA FAVORIT with a front-mounted transverse engine made its debut. The young works crew of Pavel Sibera and Petr Gross won the 1,300 cm3 category of the Monte Carlo Rally four times in a row in their modified FAVORIT 136 L/A (1991-1994). The development of 4x4 rally cars around that time created an insurmountable gap between cars with four-wheel drive and those without. The FIA therefore devised a new competition for 4x2 cars with naturally aspirated engines up to 2,000 cm3. A great opportunity for the FAVORIT 136 L! In the 1994 season, the Pavel Sibera – Petr Gross and Emil Triner – Jiří Klíma crews fought off tough competition from two-litre engines to win the pictured FIA trophy for overall victory in the F2 category.

2010: Intercontinental Rally Challenge Champion Manufacturer

This trophy from 2010 commemorates ŠKODA’s victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC). Of the works teams, the one featuring driver Juho Hänninen and co-driver Mikko Markkula drove their FABIA S2000 to victory in the drivers’ standings, with Jan Kopecký and navigator Petr Starý taking second place. As a result, ŠKODA Motorsport collected the pictured manufacturers’ trophy. By the way, ŠKODA cars won 7 of the 11 races they took part in.

2013: FIA European Rally Championship for Driver

The valuable trophy in the picture was collected by Jan Kopecký at the end of the successful 2013 season on December 7 at the FIA awards ceremony in Paris. The works team of Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler won the European Rally Championship, or ERC, again in a ŠKODA FABIA S2000. ŠKODA also won the manufacturers’ and drivers’ trophies at the Asia-Pacific Championships (APRC). Other international championship trophies handed out on that December evening in Paris went to ŠKODA drivers and co-drivers who were victorious in the ERC and APRC series, but also in the South American CODASUR championship.

2016: FIA World Rally Championship, WRC2 for Teams

ŠKODA cars’ efforts in the World Rally Championship (WRC2) in 2016 were rewarded with a hatful of trophies. On November 20, the “flying Finns” Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm became world champions in their ŠKODA FABIA R5, with victory in Rally Australia securing ŠKODA’s first-ever driver and co-driver trophy in WRC2. The duo won four of the seven WRC2 events they competed even. In total, the ŠKODA FABIA R5 won 10 out of 13 WRC2 events in 2016. The beautiful trophy for the team whose crews racked up the most points was collected by ŠKODA representatives at the FIA Prize Giving Ceremony in Vienna two weeks after the decisive Rally Australia.

2018: FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Cup for Manufacturers 

As well as ŠKODA Motorsport works teams, the winged arrow also has private competitors to thank for a number of its trophies. Under the ŠKODA customers programme, several hundred ŠKODA racing cars found owners in previous years. Cusco was the first private team to race the ŠKODA FABIA R5 in Japan – and it was soon picking up success after success. Victory in the 2018 China Rally meant that driver Yuya Sumiyama and his navigator Takahiro Yasui won all five rounds of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) in their ŠKODA FABIA R5, resulting in the maximum number of available points and total domination. The trophy in the photograph was awarded for ŠKODA’s victory in the FIA 2018 APRC manufacturers’ standings.

2019: FIA World Rally Championship, WRC2 Pro for Manufacturers

ŠKODA’s new car for the 2019 season was the FABIA R5 evo, and it didn’t take long for the car to collect all the FIA World Rally Championship titles in the WRC2 Pro category for works teams in both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ standings. In the first case the title was secured by the duo of Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen, with Rovanperä becoming the youngest ever race winner. In the WRC2 category it was the ŠKODA customer team of Pierre-Louis Loubet – Vincent Landais who came out on top. All of them – and many others – proved again that motorsport continues to be a central and successful part of ŠKODA’s DNA