“What a day for ŠKODA! We claimed our first win in only the third WRC 2 start with the new Fabia R5. Compliments to both teams – Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm, and Pontus Tidemand and Emil Axelsson. They were flawless for four days, even in that heat,” said ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek, beaming with joy. “We had seen indications of the potential of our new rally car with three podiums from the first two WRC 2 starts. The first victory is a great reward for the hard work put in by everyone at ŠKODA Motorsport. It also gives us extra incentive to continue doing everything we can to achieve success.”
The two ŠKODA drivers, Lappi and Tidemand, dominated the race on fast gravel roads with short asphalt sections, seemingly at will. About two thirds of the almost 300 kilometres against the clock were taken flat-out. The “Flying Finn” Esapekka Lappi moved into the lead on stage two, “Gorklo”, courtesy of the stage win and a spectacular average speed of 126.45 km/h, and never looked back. This was win number two at the Rally Poland for Lappi/Ferm. Back in 2012, when the event still belonged to the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC), the duo had triumphed on their debut for ŠKODA Motorsport.
“What an amazing win! Thank you to the ŠKODA team for doing a perfect job. The Fabia R5 was just brilliant,” said Lappi. “The win is also reward for a learning process. On Saturday and Sunday I managed to keep a cool head and control the race.” At the end of the 18 special stages, the 24-year-old had a 56.1-second lead over team-mate Tidemand. The speedy Swede won seven special stages at the Rally Poland, as did his team-mate Lappi. “Congratulations to Esapekka! He was in a class of his own at this rally. We did as well as we possibly could, claiming our second podium on our second outing with the new Fabia R5,” said Tidemand.
Lappi and Tidemand had previously guided the four-wheel drive turbo powered car to second and third place when the Fabia R5 made its WRC debut in Portugal. ŠKODA duo Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ) finished third in the WRC 2 class at the Rally Italy. Although ŠKODA has only competed at three of the season’s seven rounds so in the FIA World Rally Championship, the top two drivers are already within striking distance of WRC 2 leader Jari Ketomaa (FIN/67 points) who had to settle for fourth place in Poland. Lappi is currently fifth on 45 points, ahead of Tidemand on 43. Former European champion Armin Kremer, who finished fifth at the wheel of a ŠKODA Fabia R5 at the Rally Poland, has 34 points to his name already.
Lappi/Ferm have little time to celebrate their win in Poland. The successful pair are set to make a guest appearance in the Czech Rally Championship (MČR) next weekend. The Rally Bohemia is ŠKODA’s home event in the region around the company headquarters in Mladá Boleslav. After three wins from three starts in the national championship, ŠKODA works driver Jan Kopecký (CZ) and co-driver Pavel Dresler (CZ) have their sights set on continuing the Fabia R5’s winning run.
The new car tasted more success this weekend in the German Rally Championship (DRM): ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland driver Fabian Kreim (D) triumphed ahead of fellow ŠKODA driver Mark Wallenwein (D). This was the second one-two in a row for the new ŠKODA Fabia R5.
Number of the day at the Rally Poland: 1
Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm presented ŠKODA with win number 1 for the Fabia R5 in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2). The first success came at express speed: the new rally car was presented to the public for the first time on 15th April 2015. It has now taken its place on the very top step of the podium on only its third appearance in the WRC.
Rally Poland –WRC 2 result
1. Lappi/Ferm (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA Fabia R5: 2:32:02.6 hrs.
2. Tidemand/Axelsson (S/S), ŠKODA Fabia R5: + 0:56.1 min.
3. Kruuda/Jarveoja (EST/EST), Citroën DS3 R5: + 2:05.3 min.
4. Ketomaa/Lindstrom (FIN/FIN), Ford Fiesta R5: + 4:54.1 min.
5. Kremer/Winklhofer (D/D), ŠKODA Fabia R5: + 5:11.9 min.
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2)
Rally Monte Carlo; 22.01.–25.01.2015
Rally Mexico; 05.03.–08.03.2015
Rally Argentina; 23.04.–26.04.2015
Rally Portugal; 21.05.–24.05.2015
Rally Italy; 11.06.–14.06.2015
Rally Poland; 02.07.–05.07.2015
Rally Finland; 30.07.–02.08.2015
Rally Germany; 20.08.–23.08.2015
Rally Australia; 10.09.–13.09.2015
Rally France; 01.10.–04.10.2015
Rally Spain; 22.10.–25.10.2015
Rally Great Britain; 12.11.–15.11.2015