The Skoda Fabia WRC has passed its FIA homologation inspection and will make its WRC debut in the Rally of Germany. But will the Skoda, and its rivals, survive the event’s arduous Baumholder concrete stages?

The Skoda Fabia WRC has passed its FIA homologation inspection and will make its WRC debut in the Rally of Germany. But will the Skoda, and its rivals, survive the event’s arduous Baumholder concrete stages?

CARtoday.com reported in March that the Skoda Fabia WRC had been launched at the Geneva Motor Show. It is based on the new Fabia RS model that was unveiled at the same time. The FIA inspectors visited the Skoda Motorsport headquarters in Mlada Boleslav last week and confirmed that the Fabia's transformation from road car to World Rally Car had been completed correctly.

Homologation is the process by which the FIA (motorsport's governing body) checks that any car complies with the technical regulations for the World Rally Championship. Without the FIA homologation, no car is able to take part in international rallies.

According to the inspectors were satisfied with what they had seen and the Fabia WRC is expected to receive its formal homologation papers within the next few days.

The Octavia WRC has now been mothballed, but the Fabia will not have an easy first outing in Germany if the experiences of Hyundai driver Armin Schwarz or Peugeot’s Gilles Panizzi are anything to go by.

On last year’s Rally Deutschland Schwarz had what he described as one of the largest accidents in his career. The German crashed in damp conditions on Day Two of the 2002 event – in the rally’s infamous Baumholder area. The German went off the road at 120 km/h and suffered a few broken ribs in the accident.

“The crash was a little bit dangerous,” said Schwarz. “Nevertheless I am looking forward to the rally again.

“But I’m not expecting miracles when we go back to tarmac. There is still a lot of work to do and in Germany it will be a sprint from the first to the last metre,” he added.

Baumholder, a tank testing area for the German military, has already claimed its first victim of 2003. The hard concrete stages are famous for their hinkelsteins – large concrete blocks at the side of road – and Gilles Panizzi hit one of the stones last weekend while testing for Peugeot.

It was the Frenchman’s first time on the Baumholder roads, and he broke a rib as a result of the crash.

“Having these concrete blocks at the side of the road is crazy,” he said. “I have nothing against Germany and the rally, but this is unacceptable. I got a broken rib but it could have been much worse.”

A spokesman for the rally said: “This is the first time Gilles has seen the stages, so he doesn’t know the nature of them. We will talk to the drivers and if all of them think they (the blocks) are in a position which is too dangerous we may move them – but we can’t move them all.”

Original article from Car