Friday | 08 Jan 2016

Skoda return for title defence

Reigning WRC 2 Teams' champions Škoda will return to defend their title this year with three rally-winning crews at the wheel of Fabia R5 cars.

Last year's works drivers Pontus Tidemand, Jan Kopecký and Esapekka Lappi have been retained by the Czech manufacturer for its WRC 2 campaign which will begin at the second round in Sweden.

The Fabia R5 had a successful debut season in 2015 during which it secured a fourth title in a row for Škoda in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, four wins in WRC 2 and five national titles.

Škoda Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek admitted the results had exceeded expectations, but emphasised that he was after more in 2016.

“It goes without saying that we continued to work hard through the winter break with the team, and are looking forward to an eventful year of rallying in 2016. Our goal is to exceed last year’s success in the WRC 2 with our three impressive drivers. We promise our fans that we will do everything in our power to continue Škoda Motorsport’s successful run in 2016," he said.

Lappi claimed two WRC 2 victories in 2015

The only change to Skoda's driver line-up is the arrival of Mads Østberg's former co-driver Jonas Andersson, who takes over from Emil Axelsson alongside Tidemand. The pair will make their competitive debut together at their home rally in Sweden. “We have already done a lot of testing together and can hardly wait to finally get started,” said Tidemand, who won the WRC 2 class at RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España in 2015.

Finns Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm will line up as the second works duo in Sweden. Last year, the 2014 European champion claimed two WRC 2 victories ending the season third in the drivers' championship. This year he is after more. “We still have room for improvement. We obviously want to challenge for the WRC 2 title,” he said.

Kopecký will also be in action at a number of rounds of the WRC 2 championship, in which he won in Germany last year.

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