The New FABIA R5 <span>evo</span> Excels in Portuguese Survival Course

The New FABIA R5 evo Excels in Portuguese Survival Course

Lifestyle Sports

Merciless heat, clouds of dust and dangerous rocks sticking out of the surface. The ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo showed itself to have extraordinary speed and durability even in the extreme conditions of the Rally de Portugal. Read about the start of a new era.

3. 6. 2019

Not even the most thorough testing can reveal the strengths and weaknesses of a rally car as much as a real rally can. The Rally de Portugal, which takes place about 2,700 kilometres from ŠKODA’s Czech home in Mladá Boleslav, offered a truly thorough stress test.

“The conditions here are pretty tough, as it’s really hot this year. That makes things challenging for the drivers, the cars and the tyres. It’s not an easy rally,” opined ŠKODA Motorsport’s young talent Kalle Rovanperä. The cars took a real beating mechanically as well. “The morning stages are reasonably okay, but, during the second runs in the afternoon, the track becomes really rough,” added Kalle’s teammate and last year’s WRC 2 Champion Jan Kopecký.

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Kalle Rovanperä
rally driver, ŠKODA Motorsport team

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The FABIA R5 evo, however, was ready for these conditions – thanks to a host of technical improvements. It’s been given a more powerful engine with more efficient cooling, suspension dampers with longer wheel travel for better traction in rough conditions, quicker steering and a stiffer body shell. The results were instantly apparent. “Compared to the previous version, the car is much easier to handle, and that makes a huge difference in rallying – with better handling, you can be much faster,” explained Rovanperä.

Another great asset on these tough stages was the famed durability and reliability of ŠKODA rally cars, which has moved another step further with the revamped car. “It’s a really strong car. We’ve taken a couple of really big hits, we’ve damaged the skid plates and the rear lateral support, but the car has kept going,” explained Kopecký.

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Pavel Dresler and Jan Kopecký
co-driver with the last year’s WRC 2 champion, ŠKODA Motorsport team

From the factory straight to the podium

From Friday morning to Sunday afternoon, the crews had to cover almost 300 hot kilometres at full pace in the Rally de Portugal. Both of the FABIA R5 evo cars were brand new and had only been given short test runs on the factory’s proving grounds. That, though, changed nothing about the outcome. Kalle confidently won one stage after another, and even though a puncture dropped him to sixth place at one point, he was soon back in the lead.

ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo

“It feels great to finally drive the new car. We’ve been testing it a lot and it’s fantastic to experience it in a rally. It’s faster and handles better, so I’m enjoying the stages. The car is one of the reasons we are experiencing such a trouble-free rally,” the young Finn commented. In Portugal, he finished first in the RC2 class and the WRC 2 Pro category, more than a minute ahead of the second fastest driver. As most of the starting field were plagued by technical problems, Rovanperä actually finished sixth in the overall standings – even overtaking several drivers in the much more powerful RC1 cars.

To make it even better, that second fastest driver was none other than Jan Kopecký, which meant that the two ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo crews took the first two places. The Czech driver’s great times weren’t spoilt even though the hood sprang open, blocking his view, on one of the stages. “I knew that if we stopped and I went to go and close the hood, we’d lose a lot of time. I tried to continue as fast as possible. To be honest, I was surprised at how good the visibility was – this was the first time in my career that this had happened to me,” he laughed later in the service park.

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The launch of the revamped version of the ŠKODA FABIA R5 the evo, was a big event in the world of motorsport. Over the last four years, the FABIA R5 has become the most successful rally car in the brand’s history. ŠKODA Motorsport crews took it to three WRC 2 titles and, thanks to extraordinary interest on the part of customer teams, almost 300 examples have been sold. The combination of speed, reliability and durability has helped many rally drivers to win thousands of stages around the world.

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During its closely watched premiere, the ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo proved that it was ready to face any challenge. This wouldn’t have been possible, though, without great performances from our crews Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne Halttunen and Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler. The team boss, Michal Hrabánek, was full of praise: “It’s been a great start for our new car. All the testing and development paid off. I’m very proud of Kalle, Jan and the whole ŠKODA Motorsport team,” he commented.

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Michal Hrabánek
ŠKODA Motorsport director

On the left side: winners, Rally de Portugal - Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen; on the right side: second - Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler:

Rally Portugalsko 2019

Rally Portugalsko 2019

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