The motorsport division of the Volkswagen Group hopes that its new Skoda Fabia WRC will win rallies within two years. The Fabia will make its first appearance at the upcoming Rally of Germany - but is the launch perhaps premature?

The motorsport division of the Volkswagen Group hopes that its new Skoda Fabia WRC will win rallies within two years. The Fabia will make its first appearance at the upcoming Rally of Germany - but is the launch perhaps premature?


Skoda motorsport boss Petr Kohoutek certainly doesn’t think so… He hopes his “baby” will be able to close the gap to the leading teams soon. “The whole team is completely motivated with its new baby going into the next WRC round,” he said.


“In this season we want to draw even with the front-runners, get on the podium in 2004 and starting winning in 2005,” he added.


Nevertheless, Germany will be a tough first rally for the new car. “Our priority for Germany is to run as many stages and collect as much data as we can. This will be ultimate test, but we realise the car is young and new,” said Kohoutek.


Toni Gardemeister and Didier Auriol have been putting the Fabia through its paces in testing ahead of the German event. Former world champ Auriol completed 500 km of testing on tarmac and although he experienced a few glitches, he’s happy with the new car.


“There were no major problems with the vital organs ,” said Auriol. “There was a small problem with the electronics and the engine but we know the engine is reliable.


“The test went well and I am happy with the balance of the car. It’s easy to drive, has good brakes and grip,” he added. “I do not know if it is too early to rally the car. But it is perhaps a little early to launch the car into the tough WRC competition.”


It would be rare for a new car, such as the Fabia, not to have a problem on its first rally. But in the meantime, Skoda turns its attention to gravel this week, heading to Finland to prepare for the Finnish Rally in August.

Original article from Car