Jan Kopecký has secured the WRC 2 title before even turning a wheel at this weekend's RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España (25-28 October).
The Czech driver secured the title earlier this week when his Skoda Motorsport team confirmed it will not contest the final round at Kennards Hire Rally Australia in November. With five maximum scores from the five rounds he has tackled, Kopecky is now uncatchable.
Although the title pressure has been lifted, Kopecký remains determined to better his runner-up result in Spain last year and secure a clean sweep of 2018 wins.
“I have had a really fantastic season so far, winning every rally I have entered – five WRC 2 events, and six rallies in the Czech championship. Last year, I missed out on victory in Spain. Now the championship pressure has gone, I will try my best to correct that,” he said.
Completing Skoda’s factory line-up is rising star Kalle Rovanperä, who is targeting a second victory in as many events as he debuts at the mixed-surface rally.
The penultimate round has attracted a strong field of 21 competitors, and marks the return of four-time WRC champions Volkswagen Motorsport, which will debut its new Polo R5.
Its entry will be spearheaded by 2003 world champion Petter Solberg and former M-Sport factory driver Eric Camilli as the squad puts its latest challenger through its paces before it goes on sale to customers.
Also tackling the Spanish stages is Hyundai Motorsport development driver Jari Huttunen. It is his first start at the event in an i20 R5. Jose Antonio Suarez also uses an i20 to tackle his home stages.
Citroën Racing runs two C3 R5s for Stéphane Lefebvre and Ole Christian Veiby as the manufacturer wraps up its first season of competition for the new car. Simone Tempestini and Pepe Lopez are also entered in privately-run C3s.
European champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz returns to the category for the first time since Rally Turkey in a Fiesta R5. Also competing in Fiestas are Toyota development driver Takamoto Katsuta and former Junior WRC champion Nil Solans.
Another member of the Solberg family, older brother Henning, returns to WRC 2 action in a Fabia R5. He’ll be joined at the Toksport team by Britain’s Chris Ingram.
Lukasz Pieniazek and Fabio Andolfi are also in privateer Skodas as they battle Rovanperä to take third in the championship away from Gus Greensmith, who finished his season at Dayinsure Wales Rally GB.