Skoda turns to young guns

Skoda Motorsport will field its youngest squad ever in a multi-car attack on next season’s WRC 2 title.

The company today (Tuesday) confirmed five drivers for the WRC’s principal support category, including three currently aged 21 or under, as it bids to win the drivers’ title for a third season and the teams’ crown for a fourth.

Reigning champion Pontus Tidemand and stalwart Jan Kopecký, who finished fourth, will return for 2018 in the Czech team’s all conquering Fabia R5, which won 10 of the 13 WRC 2 rounds this year.

They will be joined by 21-year-old Ole Christian Veiby, who scored his maiden category win in Poland and is promoted to a full factory drive after finishing second in the Asia Pacific Championship.

The Norwegian will be joined by Juuso Nordgren, also 21, who debuted with the team in Spain in October as Skoda launched its young driver scheme. Nordgren was Finnish junior champion in 2015.

The line-up will be completed by 17-year-old Kalle Rovanperä. The Finn became the youngest driver to score FIA championship points when winning WRC 2 in a Ford Fiesta at last month’s season finale in Australia.

Kalle Rovanperä - WRC 2 winner in Australia

Rovanperä won this season’s national title in Latvia, where drivers are allowed to compete at a younger age. He made his WRC debut in Britain just days after passing his driving test.

Skoda has not confirmed details of their drivers’ programmes. Each can count the best six scores from seven nominated rallies, so it has plenty of flexibility during the 13-round season.

The team celebrated what has been its most successful motorsport campaign at its Mladá Boleslav base and motorsport director Michal Hrabánek was already looking ahead to 2018.

“We are happy to keep Pontus Tidemand and Jan Kopecký in the team. Our youngsters Ole Christian Veiby and Juuso Nordgren already proved their talent,” he said.

“A new and equally talented addition to our team is 17-year-old Kalle Rovanperä. We are really looking forward to the World Rally Championship 2018.”

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