While the ŠKODA 130 LR was still racing on domestic rally tracks in September 1987, there was a considerable paradigm shift at the International Engineering Fair in Brno, where ŠKODA unveiled the FAVORIT to widespread interest. The modern hatchback with front-mounted engine and drivetrain was an entirely new development and the Czech carmaker believed it would also have strong sales prospects in the demanding Western European markets. In Mladá Boleslav, the team immediately began working on a rally version, the success of which would be key to promoting the new model internationally.
Works driver Vladimír Berger played an important role in developing the racing vehicle. For tuning purposes, he drove the ŠKODA FAVORIT, which had not yet been officially homologated, at selected rallies in the 1988 Czechoslovak championship. The homologation of the vehicle followed on 1 January 1989 under the registration number A-5373. The FAVORIT celebrated a successful debut with the driver teams Křeček/Motl, Sibera/Gross and Berger/Petera shortly afterwards at the traditional ‘Valašská zima’ rally. The FAVORIT celebrated its international premiere at the Finnish Hanki Rally, driving to class victory with Kalevi Aho at the wheel. The FAVORIT continued to dominate in the following years, winning almost every race in its class. It also asserted itself against the competition in demanding WRC rounds such as the Monte Carlo Rally, the RAC Rally, the Finnish 1000 Lakes Rally and the Acropolis Rally. The winning streak of the duo Pavel Sibera/ Petr Gross, who won their class four times in a row at the Monte Carlo Rally between 1991 and 1994, was particularly impressive.
In 1993, new rules came into force with the announcement of the World Cup for vehicles with naturally aspirated engines, a maximum engine capacity of two litres and a driven axle – the so-called Formula 2. In the first season, the ŠKODA Motorsport works team finished second, before leaving numerous well-known competitors behind in the following year and securing the world championship title in the Formula 2 class.
As a Class A rally car, the ŠKODA FAVORIT looked very similar to the series-production model at first glance, but it was a racing car through and through. The rigidity of the body, which was made of thinner sheet metal, was enhanced by a certified safety frame. In contrast to the standard version, the roof had a mechanical flap that improved ventilation in the interior. The windows and door panels, however, were from the series-production model. The upholstery and rear seat were removed, and several additional measures brought the kerb weight down to 750 kilograms.
The control panel was left unchanged, but the gauges and switches were adapted and positioned so that they could also be operated by the co-driver if required. The brake pressure was routed to the rear wheels via a brake power distributor, which could be adapted depending on the road conditions. A sports steering wheel, which drivers usually took with them from vehicle to vehicle, simplified the FAVORIT’s handling.
The engine had OHV valve timing; compared to the standard engine, the displacement increased from 1,289.4 to 1,299.6 cm3. The connecting rods, cams and other parts were new. Initially, the engine delivered 76 kW at 6,500 rpm; later, thanks to a Pierburg twin carburettor, the power increased to 88 kW at 7,000 rpm. A five-speed gearbox was used at first, but this was later replaced by a six-speed gearbox with spur toothing. The FAVORIT’s top speed was between 150 and 210 km/h, depending on the overall transmission ratio.
The white bodywork was originally finished with red and blue stripes, which later gave way to a chequered pattern in the same colours. This was replaced in 1993 by the green victory sign ‘V’ and red stripe – the emblem of RS cars today.
The ŠKODA FAVORIT 136 L/A, which had been modified for racing purposes, also held its own off the rally tracks on circuits and hill climbs. The FAVORIT 136 L/H, developed in 1989 for circuit racing, was particularly interesting from a technical perspective. The four-cylinder engine from the 790.16 OHC was a prototype with a larger displacement of 1,596 cm³. It had two Weber twin carburettors and generated 123 kW (167 hp) at 6,500 rpm; torque of 176 Nm was available at 5,500 rpm. The car reached a top speed of 240 km/h and accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6 seconds. The engine later benefited from direct injection and the power increased to 129 kW (175 hp). Among other events, this modified ŠKODA FAVORIT competed in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring where the trio Kvaizar/Samohýl/Obermann clinched a class victory.
Although the more modern ŠKODA FELICIA replaced the ŠKODA FAVORIT on the rally track in 1995, the FAVORIT remained on the starting lists of numerous races for many years as a sports vehicle that was both powerful and affordable.