PICTURE GALLERY: Relive the 2019 Championship Rally Season

PICTURE GALLERY: Relive the 2019 Championship Rally Season

Check out the most breathtaking photos from the latest rally season, which saw ŠKODA Motorsport build on its worldwide success!

30. 10. 2019 Lifestyle SPORTS

As the rally season draws to a close, the end result in the WRC 2 Pro category is clear: ŠKODA Motorsport has won the team trophy*, continuing the success of the past four WRC 2 championships. In the same category, Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen were the winning crew, making Rovanperä, at 19, the youngest ever world champion. Look back at the entire season, from Monte Carlo to Spain, in some outstanding photos.

* subject to the publication of results by FIA


The opening event of the season in the new WRC 2 Pro category was not the best of times for the crew of Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen, driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5 in the colours of the private TGS team. During the very first stage on the Friday, Kalle lost control going round an icy, snow-covered bend and collided with a WRC car that had suffered the same fate a few moments earlier. In the end, however, he chased down the field superbly, hampered only by a puncture on Saturday, and climbed from a dire-looking 84th place to 18th overall. In other words, he managed to beat 66 other drivers during the rally weekend and ultimately took 2nd place in the new WRC 2 Pro category.

Rally Monte Carlo 2019


The second event of the world championship took ŠKODA Motorsport to the north of Europe. What makes the Swedish Rally exceptional is that it is the only truly winter rally – the perfect conditions for the talented young Finn Kalle Rovanperä, who was making his début here at the wheel of a ŠKODA FABIA R5. With weekend temperatures often above zero and the melting snow mixing with gravel, Kalle chalked up 14 best times in the 19 stages of the WRC 2 Pro category. Had he not found himself caught in a snowdrift twice, he would have won easily, but in the end he had to settle for second, again earning 18 valuable points in the overall ranking.

Rally Švédsko 2019


The Tour de Corse, also known as the Ten Thousand Turns Rally, did not exactly turn out well for Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen, who were competing in the colours of a private team here. Participating in Corsica for the first time, the crew got through a challenging Friday programme, during which drivers were not allowed to head for the usual servicing halfway through the day. In fact, they proved a dab hand at mechanics when they adjusted the poorly configured settings of their ŠKODA FABIA R5 during a transfer between stages and saw their times improve immediately. Unfortunately, on Saturday Kalle careered off the track and was unable to continue battling for points in the WRC 2 Pro series. This failure, however, ushered in a big change of fortune in the following races.

Rally France - Tour de Corse 2019


The first Rally Chile in the World Rally Championship series also marked a first victory of the season for Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen, who were competing in the colours of a private team here. On the Friday, Kalle fought very closely with Mads Østberg, his most serious rival, but on Saturday the Norwegian gifted the Finn more than half a minute. Kalle fully controlled his lead in the WRC 2 Pro category on Sunday. A second crew to score points for the ŠKODA Motorsport team at the Rally Chile was Marco Bulacia Wilkinson and Fabian Cretu, who ended up fourth in this category.

Rally Chile 2019


Two weeks later, the entire rally circus moved to Portugal, where the innovated ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo took its bow on the international stage. The fierce heat, dust clouds and ruined tracks were a major test for the improved rally car. Ultimately, ŠKODA Motorsport bagged the top two places not only in their WRC 2 Pro category, but also in the entire RC 2 class. The winning crew of Rovanperä and Halttunen were joined, in second place, by Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler, last year's WRC 2 world champions. For the latter, this was their first start of this year’s world championship. In one stage, the Czech reigning champions did not slow down even after their bonnet sprang open. You might think it would be impossible to see anything in such a situation, but the crew managed to reach the finish at full speed – in fact, they were faster than when they had driven the same route in the morning.

Rally Portugal 2019


In Sardinia, both crews continued to perform excellently, as did the ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo. Thanks to the improved handling and even more robust design of the car, even in the harsh conditions of hot and dusty Sardinia the drivers were able to speed along with plenty of slack. They successfully skirted any problems and when, on the second day of the rally, Rovanperä and Kopecký climbed to the top two positions, they easily held on until Sunday’s finish. Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen added another 25 points to their tally for this WRC 2 Pro victory, by which time the title was in sight.

Rally Itálie 2019


At the beginning of August, after a six-week break, the world’s rallying elite went to Finland for the fastest race in the calendar, which is also packed with epic jumps. During the weekend, Kalle Rovanperä discussed the best settings of his ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo with mechanics from the ŠKODA Motorsport factory team, and evidently they came up with the best result because Kalle and Jonne went on to celebrate their fourth consecutive win in the world championship. Last year, the crew were unlucky to see victory slip from their grasp, so this year the Finns had a sense of satisfaction.

Rally Finsko 2019


Next up was the Rallye Deutschland, an event favoured by asphalt specialist Jan Kopecký. He has long fared well in the local asphalt stages, but unfortunately he also picks up his fair share of punctures at the dreaded Panzerplatte. This event indeed followed the same pattern as the previous year and the year before that. Even so, despite suffering a one-minute loss caused by a wheel replacement, the Kopecký/Dresler crew managed to maintain a comfortable lead in their WRC 2 Pro category and clinch their first victory of the year in the world championship. This meant that the revamped ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo had yet to be defeated. Kalle Rovanperä finished third in the category.

Rally Německa 2019


The Rally Turkey was a struggle for survival. On Friday, Rovanperä and Halttunen got a puncture and in that moment, as they lost concentration, the car rolled on to its roof. However, the resilient FABIA R5 evo withstood this crash, along with a long ride on a flat tyre after the Finns suffered another puncture but had no spare wheel to fix it. The Czech Kopecký/Dresler crew also encountered punctures, so this time the ŠKODA Motorsport crews had to make do with second and third place in the WRC 2 Pro category. Even so, they scored valuable points in the team standings.

Rally Turecka 2019


Wales brought immense happiness to Kalle Rovanperä as he became the youngest ever rally world champion,* as well as to his navigator Jonne Halttunen. Needless to say, the entire ŠKODA Motorsport team was also overjoyed that they won the title. Kalle Rovanperä handled all the pitfalls that Wales could throw at him. The mud made the track unpredictably slippery. Worse, it stuck to the cars’ inner parts, increasing their weight by up to five per cent and changing the way they handled. Nevertheless, Rovanperä and Halttunen managed to win the WRC 2 Pro category – not only the rally itself, but the whole season. They became world champions*, a feat that drivers in the ŠKODA Motorsport colours had achieved four times in a row: Kalle Rovanperä’s predecessors were Esapekka Lappi, Pontus Tidemand and, last year, Jan Kopecký. Kopecký and his co-driver Jan Hloušek eventually finished second in the category after suffering complications, including an accident that saw the car overturn.

* subject to the publication of results by FIA

Wales Rally Velká Británie 2019


The Rally de España was important primarily for ŠKODA Motorsport, which was still fighting for the world championship manufacturers’ title. Both elite crews, Rovanperä/Halttunen and Kopecký/Hloušek, set out on to the track to pick up more points. While Friday’s opening stages on the gravel were not very fruitful for either ŠKODA Motorsport crew, both drivers decided to do battle on Saturday following the switch to asphalt tracks, and considerably picked up the pace. Kalle and Jonne closed the gap on leader Mads Ostberg to ten seconds, but then made an unexpected error in the last stage, which was held in the streets of Salou and attracted thousands of spectators. Kalle Rovanperä overshot a slide, spun the car, and broke the left rear wheel. Fortunately, he made it to the service area, but lost so much ground that he was unable to catch up on Sunday. In the end, then, Jan Kopecký and Jan Hloušek came second in the WRC 2 Pro category, with Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen having to settle for third place. These results were enough for ŠKODA Motorsport to celebrate the WRC 2 Pro world championship manufacturers’ title.*

* subject to the publication of results by FIA

Rally Španělska 2019

„I can finally say: mission accomplished! We achieved all the goals we set ourselves for 2019. We successfully launched the ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo, Kalle and Jonne won the crews’ title and, together with the two Jans, they secured the points we needed in Spain to win the manufacturers’ championship,” said ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek as he summed up the season.

Michal Hrabánek
ŠKODA Motorsport director

Rally Španělska 2019