Wednesday | 20 May 2015

WRC 2 spotlight falls on Skoda in Portugal

All eyes will be fixed on the WRC 2 debut of Skoda’s new Fabia R5 at Vodafone Rally de Portugal (21 - 24 May) as the Czech manufacturer returns to the FIA World Rally Championship after a two-year absence.

Esapekka Lappi and Pontus Tidemand will drive the official entries with German Armin Kremer in a third privately-entered car. Lappi won WRC 2 at Skoda’s last championship appearance in Portugal in April 2013.

“We are hungry for our first race with the Fabia R5. For that to come in the World Championship is fantastic. It would obviously be great if we could immediately follow on where we left off,” said Lappi.

The Fabia trio forms part of a massive 29-strong entry which features the top four drivers in the points – Jari Ketomaa (Ford Fiesta R5), Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (Fiesta RRC), Nasser Al-Attiyah (Fiesta RRC) and Stéphane Lefebvre (Citroën DS 3 R5), all of whom have won one round.

Ketomaa is joined in the Drive DMACK squad by Sander Pärn. The Estonian won the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy last year and Portugal is the opening round of his WRC 2 prize campaign.

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“This is a completely new situation for me, it’s my first time on gravel with an R5 car so it really will be a big learning experience. The competition looks pretty intense and my aim definitely is to complete all the stages and finish the rally,” said Pärn.

Also making their first appearances of 2015 are Australian champion Scott Pedder and Karl Kruuda, who debuts his DS 3 R5. Kruuda, who finished fifth in the points last year, won the warm-up Rally Tierra de Curtis in Spain.

Others likely to feature strongly include Yazeed Al Rajhi (Fiesta RRC), Craig Breen (Peugeot 208 T16), Nicolas Fuchs (Fiesta R5), Eric Camilli (Fiesta R5) and Martin Koci, who debuts his 208 T16.

One non-starter is Keith Cronin, who destroyed his DS 3 R5 in a testing accident on Monday.

In the Production Cup within WRC 2, third placed Max Rendina has the opportunity to claim the series lead as both leader Gianluca Linari and Simone Tempestini are absent.

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