Rally Monte-Carlo 24/01/–28/01/2018
ŠKODA’s Jan Kopecký and co-driver Pavel Dresler (CZE/CZE) convincingly won the WRC 2 category at the season opener of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), the famous Rally Monte-Carlo. They took top spot after the fourth of the 17 special stages and despite very challenging road and weather conditions defended their lead until the finish in Monte-Carlo. On his 36th birthday, Kopecký rewarded himself with the gift of not only winning the WRC 2 category, but also taking victory in RC 2 class and finishing 10th overall. While ŠKODA junior Ole Christian Veiby had to retire on Saturday due to a driver’s error, teammate Kalle Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen (FIN/FIN) – on this event not registered for WRC 2 – brought home their ŠKODA FABIA R5 on second place in RC 2 class after a fast and controlled drive under difficult conditions.
Result Rally Monte-Carlo (WRC 2) (only 4 crews classified)
1. Kopecký/Dresler (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 4:35:38.5 h.
2. Sciessere/Zanella (ITA/ITA), Citroën DS3, +22:47.7 min.
3. Suninen/Markkula (FIN/FIN), Ford Fiesta R5, +33:31.1 min.
4. De Mévius/Louka (BEL/BEL), Peugeot 208T16 R5, + 33:46.1 min.
Rally Sweden 15/02/–18/02/2018
The two ŠKODA Motorsport crews Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (SWE/SWE) and Ole Christian Veiby/Stig Rune Skjærmoen (NOR/NOR) climbed onto Rally Sweden’s WRC 2 podium with second and third position after a thrilling battle for category’s honours. After the victory of Jan Kopecký at Rally Monte-Carlo, the good start of ŠKODA Motorsport into the 2018 motorsport season continued at the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Result Rally Sweden (WRC 2)
1. Katsuta/Salminen (JAP/FIN), Ford Fiesta R5, 3:01:27.5 h
2. Tidemand/Andersson (SWE/SWE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, + 4.5 sec.
3. Veiby/Skjærmoen (NOR/NOR), ŠKODA FABIA R5, + 30.5 sec.
4. Adielsson/Johansson (SWE/SWE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +1:49.3 min.
5. Touhino/Hämäläinen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5, + 2:29.9 min.
Rally Mexico 08/03/–11/03/2018
ŠKODA factory crew Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (SWE/SWE) achieved a dominant WRC 2 win at Rally Guanajuato Mexico, finishing 7th overall with their ŠKODA FABIA R5. With his first WRC 2 win of 2018, Pontus Tidemand also took the championship lead after three rounds. Teammates Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen (FIN/FIN) had to retire after the second stage but could re-start under Rally 2 regulations for Saturday’s and Sunday’s legs. They scored five fastest WRC2 times and still finished 5th in the category.
Result Rally Mexico (WRC 2)
1. Tidemand/Andersson (SWE/SWE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 4:04:32.7 h
2. Greensmith/Parry (GBR/GBR), Ford Fiesta R5, +6:44.6 min.
3. Heller/Olmos (CHL/ARG), Ford Fiesta R5, +13:53.4 min.
4. Bulacia Wilkinson/Mussano (BOL/ARG), Ford Fiesta R5, +22:45.9 min.
5. Rovanperä/Halttunen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +1:02:54.1 h
Rally France/Tour de Corse 05/04/–08/04/2018
ŠKODA factory team Jan Kopecký and co-driver Pavel Dresler (CZE/CZE) celebrated a start-to-finish win of the WRC 2 category at Rally France/Tour de Corse. Their young Norwegian teammates Ole Christian Veiby/Stig Rune Skjaermœn (NOR/NOR) initially were delayed by a malfunctioning gear link shift, came back with a number of WRC 2 stage wins and finally by just 1.8 seconds missed the podium, which was completed by Italian ŠKODA privateer Fabio Andolfi.
Result Rally France/Tour de Corse (WRC 2)
1. Kopecký/Dresler (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 3:37:27.5 h
2. Bonato/Boulloud, (FRA/FRA), Citroën C3 R5, +1:51.2 sec.
3. Andolfi/Scattolin (ITA/ITA), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +3:08.5 min.
4. Veiby/ Skjaermœn (NOR/NOR), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +3:10.3 min.
5. Pieniazek/Mazur (POL/POL), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +13:05.6 min.
Rally Argentina 26/04/–29/04/2018
Reigning WRC 2 champions Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (SWE/SWE) repeated their last year’s victory at Rally Argentina. The Swedish pairing also took the overall lead in the WRC 2 championship standings from ŠKODA teammate Jan Kopecký, who did not compete in Argentina. ŠKODA factory crews Tidemand/Andersson and Rovanperä/Halttunen (FIN/FIN) were leading the WRC 2 category going into the event’s last day. But in the penultimate stage, Rovanperä went off the road. The crew was unhurt, but had to retire. Norwegians Ole Christian Veiby and Stig Rune Skjaermœn, another duo of ŠKODA juniors, thanks to a great performance finished second in RC 2 class, which includes the WRC 2 category.
Result Rally Argentina (WRC 2)
1. Tidemand/Andersson (SWE/SWE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 3:55:44.7 h
2. Greensmith/Parry (GBR/GBR), Ford Fiesta R5, +7:39.1 min.
3. Heller/Olmos (CHL/ARG), Ford Fiesta R5, +9:02.9 min.
4. Dominguez/Galindo (MEX/MEX), Hyundai i20 R5, + 15:49.6 min.
5. Solans/Ibanez (ESP/ESP), Ford Fiesta R5, +37:43.9 min.
Rally Portugal 17/05/–20/05/2018
ŠKODA FABIA R5 crew Pontus Tidemand and Jonas Andersson (SWE/SWE) for the third time in a row won the WRC 2 category at the Rally Portugal. The reigning WRC 2 Champions also achieved their third season win, increasing their lead in the championship standings. Teammates Jan Kopecký and co-driver Pavel Dresler didn’t compete in Portugal, but on the same weekend won Rally Český Krumlov, the third round of the Czech Rally Championship. Back in Portugal Finnish youngsters Juuso Nordgren/Tapio Suominen (FIN/FIN), despite of suffering from a “record” five punctures, showed a steady learning curve finishing sixth in the WRC 2 category.
Result Rally Portugal (WRC 2)
1. Tidemand/Andersson (SWE/SWE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 4:03:57.4 h
2. Pieniazek/Mazur (POL/POL), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +2:06.5 min
3. Lefebvre/Moreau (FRA/FRA), Citroën C3 R5, +2:23.5 min
4. Loubet/Landais (FRA/FRA), Hyundai i20 R5, +3:10.5 min
5. Arai/Macneall (JPN/AUS), Ford Fiesta R5, +5:31.6
6. Nordgren/Suominen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +5.41.1 min
Rally Italia Sardegna 07/06/–10/06/2018
Time to celebrate in the beautiful harbour of Alghero on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia: At Rally Italia Sardegna ŠKODA Motorsport achieved a double victory. Jan Kopecký (CZE) and co-driver Pavel Dresler (CZE) powered their ŠKODA FABIA R5 to their third season victory in the WRC 2 category. ŠKODA juniors Ole Christian “O.C.” Veiby and Stig Rune Skjaermœn (NOR/NOR) finished second after an impressive race to catch up. At that point of the season, ŠKODA factory drivers Pontus Tidemand, Jan Kopecký and O.C. Veiby were holding the top three positions of the WRC 2 championship standings.
Result Rally Italia Sardegna (WRC 2)
1. Kopecký/Dresler (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 3:42:33.3 h
2. Veiby/Skjaermœn (NOR/NOR), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +3:02.6 min.
3. Ciamin/de la Haye (FRA/FRA), Hyundai i20, +3:18.7 min.
4. Andolfi/Scattolin (ITA/ITA), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +6:32.2 min.
5. Pieniazek/Mazur (POL/POL), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +7:11.3 min.
Rally Finland 26/07/–29/07/2018
For the best part of three days of Rally Finland, ŠKODA’s 17 years old Kalle Rovanperä (FIN) and co-driver Jonne Halttunen (FIN) looked like the dominant winners of the WRC 2 category. But during Saturday’s penultimate stage, the left front suspension broke when the car hit a rock under braking. After roadside emergency repairs, the two Finns managed to finish the day in fourth position. With a stunning race to catch up, they set all fastest times in WRC 2 during the last leg and finally missed the podium by just 1.9 seconds. While Rovanperä’s factory teammates Ole Christian Veiby/Stig Rune Skjaermœn (NOR/NOR) had to retire after an accident on Saturday, local ŠKODA privateers Eerik Pietarinen/Juhana Raitanen (FIN/FIN) won the WRC 2 category. For the current Finnish Championship leaders this victory was the biggest success of their career so far.
Result Rally Finland (WRC 2)
1. Pietarinen/Raitanen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 2:45:18.4 h
2. Huttunen/Linnaketo, (FIN/FIN), Hyundai i20, +1:06.8 min.
3. Greensmith/Parry (GBR/GBR), Ford Fiesta R5, +2:34.9 min.
4. Rovanperä/Halttunen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +2:36.8 min.
5. Loubet/Landais (FRA/FRA), Hyundai i20, +4:05.0 min.
Rallye Deutschland (16–19/08/2018)
What a thrilling final for the WRC 2 category at Rallye Deutschland! After having lost valuable time with a puncture on Saturday morning, ŠKODA factory crew Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZE/CZE) started an impressive comeback. They finally scored their fourth WRC 2 victory of the season and went into the lead of the championship standings. ŠKODA teammates Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (FIN/FIN) also delivered a fantastic performance on their first pure tarmac event for the ŠKODA factory team and finished second ahead of ŠKODA privateers Fabio Andolfi/ Emanuele Inglesi (ITA/ITA).
Result Rallye Deutschland (WRC 2)
1. Kopecký/Dresler (CZE/CZE) ŠKODA FABIA R5, 3:16:49.7 h
2. Rovanperä/Halttunen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +3.8 sec.
3. Andolfi/Inglesi (ITA/ITA), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +18.1 sec.
4. Kreim/Christian (DEU/DEU), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +50.9 sec.
5. Kajetanovicz/Szepaniak (POL/POL), Ford Fiesta R5, +54.4 sec.
Rally Turkey Marmaris (13–16/09/2018)
ŠKODA factory crew Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZE/CZE) made a big step forward to secure the WRC 2 title by winning the category at Rally Turkey Marmaris. Teammates Pontus Tidemand/ Jonas Andersson (SWE/SWE) had to retire during the Friday loop. From then onwards the Swede had only mathematically chances to defend his title. At the same time, ŠKODA Motorsport prematurely for the fourth time in a row won the FIA WRC 2 Championship for Teams, this time three rallies before the season finale.
Result Rally Turkey Marmaris (WRC 2)
1. Kopecký/Dresler (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 4:17:49.7 h
2. Tempestini/Itu (ROM/ROM), Citroën C3 R5, +1:11.9. min.
3. Ingram/Whittock (GBR/GBR), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +1:56.1 min.
4. Kajetanovicz/Szepaniak (POL/POL), Ford Fiesta R5, +2:48.7 min.
5. Heller/Olmos (CHL/CHL), Ford Fiesta R5, +7:41.2 min.
Wales Rally GB (4-7/10/2018)
ŠKODA junior Kalle Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen (FIN/FIN) achieved a start-to-finish victory in the WRC 2 category at Wales Rally GB. With second place, teammates Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (SWE/SWE) secured the season’s third double victory in the WRC 2 category for ŠKODA Motorsport. Having celebrated his 18th birthday during Monday’s pre-event test, Rovanperä took the WRC 2 lead already on Thursday during the first special stage and defended it until the finish line in Llandudno. He set the foundation of his dominant category victory during the Friday leg, increasing the lead over teammate Pontus Tidemand finally to more than one minute. In total, the young Finn set 15 fastest WRC 2 times over the 23 stages.
Result Wales Rally GB (WRC 2)
1. Rovanperä/Halttunen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 3:15:27.2 h
2. Tidemand/Andersson (SWE/SWE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +1:34.2 min.
3. Greensmith/Gelsomino (GBR/ITA), Ford Fiesta R5, +2:13.6 min.
4. Huttunen/Linnaketo (FIN/FIN), Hyundai i20 R5, +2:56.8 min.
5. Lefebvre/Moreau (FRA/FRA), Citroën C3 R5, +4:35.4 min.
Rally Spain (25/10/–28/10/2018)
Sun, gravel, rain and wet tarmac – Rally Spain offered all kind of challenges for the 20 crews, who competed in the WRC 2 category. After the rally switched from gravel to tarmac for the Saturday leg, ŠKODA youngster Kalle Rovanperä and navigator Jonne Halttunen stormed into the category lead, unimpressed by heavy rain. Finally, they secured their second WRC 2 win of the season, which made them climb up to third overall in the WRC 2 championship standings behind teammates Jan Kopecký and Pontus Tidemand. After a tense fight for three days, Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler came home second.
On the podium in Salou alongside the Mediterranean Sea, new WRC 2 champion Jan Kopecký was more than happy: “This is a very special day for me. On the date today, my home country celebrates its 100th birthday. We are delighted to become WRC 2 champions and so could crown a fantastic season!” One of the first to congratulate was Christian Strube, Head of Technical Development ŠKODA AUTO. ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek added: “Now it is time to celebrate! Kalle and Jan did a great job. The whole team made it possible, that we enjoy the most successful year in the history of ŠKODA Motorsport!”
Result Rally Spain (WRC 2)
1. Rovanperä/Halttunen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 3:20:47.6 h
2. Kopecký/Dresler (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +8.5 sec.
3. P. Solberg/Engan (NOR/NOR), Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, +1.36.6 min.
4. Kajetanovicz/Szczepaniak (POL/POL), Ford Fiesta R5, +1.59.6 min
5. Solans/Marti (ESP/ESP), Ford Fiesta R5, +2.59.3 min
Rally Australia (15-18/11/2018)
As planned, ŠKODA Motorsport did not enter the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship’s final round.
Final Standings WRC 2 Championship
1. Jan Kopecký (CZE) ŠKODA, 143 points
2. Pontus Tidemand (SWE), ŠKODA, 111 points
3. Kalle Rovanperä (FIN), ŠKODA, 90 points
4. Gus Greensmith (GBR), Ford, 70 points
5. Pieniazek (POL), ŠKODA 56 Punkte
FIA Regional Championships:
Scoring victories on all five rounds, one team dominated the 2018 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) – ŠKODA driver Yuya Sumiyama and navigator Takahiro Yasui from Japan. Their Team Cusco’s achievements seamless continued the success, ŠKODA Motorsport factory supported teams celebrated during the past years in the Asia Pacific region. Celebrating an APRC hat trick from 2012 to 2014 with the normally aspirated ŠKODA FABIA S2000, the following years the Czech brand added four titles in a row with the turbo-powered ŠKODA FABIA R5.
Manvir Singh Baryan/Drew Sturrock (KEN/GBR) won the FIA African Rally Championship (ARC). Scoring four victories with their privately entered ŠKODA FABIA R5, they could repeat last year’s victory.
After winning the FIA South American Rally Championship (CODASUR) in 2013, 2016 and 2017, ŠKODA crew Gustavo Saba/Fernando Mussano (PRY/ARG) again were successful. Among the three victories, first place of the CODASUR category at the FIA World Championship round in Argentina was their season highlight.
In the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC), the three top spots of the Under 28 category (for drivers under 28 years old, driving a R5 car) were conquered by ŠKODA FABIA R5 drivers. Nikolay Gryazin/Yaroslav Fedorov (RUS/RUS) won from Chris Ingram/Dave Whittock (GBR/GBR) and Fabian Kreim/Frank Christian (DEU/DEU).