“We want to continue our winning run in the APRC and are delighted to have a talented young driver at the wheel of the Fabia R5, in the form of Fabian Kreim,” said ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek. “We are giving him a great chance to continue his development and gain valuable experience on gravel. The APRC is ideal for this. The rallies in the populous Asia-Pacific region, with our core market of China, are particularly important to ŠKODA. For this reason, we want to be at our best again with the experienced and successful ŠKODA MRF team.”
Recent years have been nothing short of impressive. In 2015, ŠKODA followed works driver Pontus Tidemand’s (S) victory at the Rally China with the manufacturer’s fourth title treble in a row in the APRC. The Czech car maker has been unstoppable since 2012 in the Driver, Co-Driver and Manufacturer competitions. Indian rally hero Gaurav Gill also lines up for the ŠKODA MRF team again. The 2013 APRC champion is at the wheel of the team’s second car, and will be on hand to offer valuable advice to his new team-mate Fabian Kreim.
“I am absolutely delighted to be able to take on the challenge of the APRC with ŠKODA,” said Kreim. “All the rallies are obviously completely new to me, and I will have a lot to learn. However, I hope I can establish myself among the front-runners and challenge for race wins as quickly as possible at these international events.”
The 23-year-old only switched to rallying in 2013, since when he has developed rapidly. Since 2015 he has driven for the ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland team in the German Rally Championship (DRM), where he promptly won five races and finished second in the championship. Kreim finished eighth in the WRC 2 class on his World Rally Championship debut at last year’s Rally Germany.
Kreim’s 31-year-old co-driver, Frank Christian, already boasts an impressive record on the international stage. In 2014, alongside Sepp Wiegand, he finished runner-up in the European Championship for ŠKODA. Christian won the WRC 2 class on his debut for the Czech car maker at the iconic Rally Monte Carlo in 2013. As well as their first season in the APRC, Kreim and Christian will also compete at selected rounds of the German Rally Championship, as well as the Rally Germany in the WRC.
As is tradition, the 2016 APRC season kicks off with the Rally Whangarei in New Zealand on 30th April. New to the calendar is the Rally India, which forms the final round of the season on 10th and 11th December.
FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC)*
Rally Whangarei New Zealand 30.04.–01.05.2016
Rally Queensland Australia 17.06.–19.06.2016
Rally China China 06.08.–07.08.2016
Rally Hokkaido Japan 24.09.–25.09.2015
Rally Malaysia Malaysia 29.10.–30.10.2016
Rally India India 10.12.–11.12.2016
* subject to confirmation by motorsport’s governing body, the FIA.