Friday | 17 Apr 2015

Lappi heads Skoda WRC 2 challenge

Skoda Motorsport will campaign two of its new Fabia R 5 cars in the WRC 2 support category in this season’s FIA World Rally Championship.

European champion Esapekka Lappi will step up to head the Czech manufacturer’s line-up, while 2013 Junior WRC champion Pontus Tidemand and Asia-Pacific champion Jan Kopecký will also tackle selected rounds.

The car’s WRC debut will come at Vodafone Rally de Portugal (21 - 24 May) and 24-year-old Lappi could not contain his excitement.

“We can't wait for our first race in the new Fabia R 5. We are excited about the new car, it's something really special,” said the Finn.

Kopecký drove a works Skoda Fabia World Rally Car in the WRC in 2006 and 2007 and the 33-year-old Czech formed a key part of the R 5 car’s test team, which completed 10,000km of development driving.

Esapekka Lappi - leads Skoda's WRC 2 challenge

“We have tested the new car extensively. I am convinced that our team of many international engineers has done a great job,” he said.

Skoda unveiled the new car, which replaced the Fabia S2000, in the Czech Republic this week following its FIA homologation on 1 April, and motorsport director Michal Hrabánek said everything about the R 5 was new.

“We started active development in January 2014. Every step in development, every test, every kilometre driven and every team member were extremely important to the success of the project.

“We already have the Asia-Pacific champion (Kopecký) and the European champion (Lappi) driving for us, who have both delivered strong performances over the past few years. In Pontus Tidemand and Emil Axelsson we have added another very talented duo to ensure we have an even better standing for the future,” he added.

Skoda’s commitment follows just three months after Toyota announced it would return to the championship in 2017 with a Yaris WRC.

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