For the past three years, the ŠKODA Motorsport factory team has been reaping success after success with the FABIA R5. Its drivers have won three WRC2 world championship titles and many more victories in speed tests in South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. This is more than just the great success of the ŠKODA Motorsport team and everyone involved; most of all, it’s a great reason to hold a grand celebration. This year’s celebration was really very special.

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No place like home

For every athlete, the greatest victory is the one won at home. On the home field, he’s encouraged by familiar faces, and the feeling of victory is all the more powerful. That's how the idea for this year’s celebration was born. Michal Hrabánek, the head of the ŠKODA Motorsport team, understands this well: “During the season, we’re entertaining racing rally fans almost everywhere in the world, but each trip to victory really starts at the Mladá Boleslav factory.

This is where every FABIA R5 gets started up for the first time and led into the world of competitions. That’s why we want to celebrate our victory here. We know how proud all the ŠKODA AUTO employees are of our victories, and this is how we want to thank them for their support.”

On a closed circuit inside the factory premises, two FABIA R5’s went head to head in a speed test. Special rally races are definitely a very unusual thing to see in the midst of the busy workings of the automotive factory…but that's not all.

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The lucky six

There were two well-known faces positioned behind the wheels – the WRC2 World Champion Pontus Tidemand, and winner of this year's Italia Sardegna Rally, Jan Kopecký. Instead of their usual navigators Jonas Andersson and Pavel Dresler, however, six ŠKODA AUTO employees took control. They were chosen in a factorywide competition that included almost everyone. The main prize, two times around the track at the factory speed test, was definitely an attractive motivator.

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Aleš Vondrlík, a coordinator of samplings and component quality and one of the lucky six, shared his excitement: “The FABIA R5 is an incredible car. The skids and the final laps were really intense, but the way that the car accelerates and decelerates was unreal. It was a really intense experience and definitely more than what I had been expecting. What a ride!” The wide and slightly incredulous smiles stayed on the winners’ faces long after the ride. The racing team’s celebration with the staff was highlighted with a signature session with both the crews.

ŠKODA Motorsport presented the crews for 2018 at press conference in Mladá Boleslav on 12 December 2017.

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From the left: Michal Hrabánek, Jonas Andersson, Pontus Tidemand, Kalle Rovanperä, Juuso Nordgren, Ole Christian Veiby, Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler.

Best of luck for the 2018 season

The last rides took place just after the ŠKODA Motorsport team announced their plans for the 2018 season at an official press conference. As usual, the goals are only the highest. A total of five crews will strive to defend their positions a the WRC2 driver and constructor champions, their title in the Czech Republic Championship, and their overall victory in the Asian-Pacific championship.

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The skid marks from the soft racing tires will remain for a while to remind us that there was a reason to celebrate on this cold December afternoon, but also that there’s still work to be done.

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