Skoda to compete on 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge with new Fabia S2000


Czech manufacturer Skoda has become the latest manufacturer to register for the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
The team will enter two new Fabia S2000 cars starting from the Monte Carlo Rally this week, for Finland’s Juho Hanninen and rising Czech star Jan Kopecky. Hanninen, who won the IRC’s Rally Russia last year, was runner-up in the 2008 Production Car World Rally Championship, while Kopecky finished on the podium in last year’s Portugal Rally.
Geraldine Filiol, the Managing Director of IRC promoter Eurosport Events, commented: "We’re delighted to welcome a manufacturer as prestigious as Skoda, with its long history in motorsport, to the IRC. We already saw the new Fabia S2000 as the course-opening car on selected events last year, and now we look forward to watching it in the heat of competition. Skoda’s participation, with its talented line-up of drivers, adds another exciting competitive element to the show this year. This is excellent news not only for the IRC series, but for rally fans all over the world."
Skoda Motorsport, based in Mlada Boleslav near Prague, recently celebrated its centenary in motorsport: part of a rich history that has seen the manufacturer taste success both on circuits and in rallying. The team has finished on the podium at some of the world’s toughest events, including the legendary Safari Rally, and maintained an international rally presence up until 2005, when it temporarily withdrew to start work on the Fabia S2000 project.
Having undergone more than a year of intensive development, during which it was driven by two-time World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz as well as the regular drivers, the Fabia has successfully passed its homologation inspection and is now ready for its competition debut on the toughest and most prestigious rally of them all. Hanninen will start the Monte Carlo Rally as car number three while his team mate Kopecky will begin as car number six.
Hanninen commented: "I’m very much looking forward to this adventure, along with Jan and everybody else at Skoda Motorsport. We’ve completed a good amount of testing over the winter, and I’m very pleased with both the speed and the reliability. One of the good things about the IRC is that the competition is very close and all the cars are evenly-matched, so I am looking forward to some nice battles over the course of the year."
The Monte Carlo Rally, the opening round of this year’s IRC, gets underway on Wednesday 21 January from Monaco. The crews will then go on to tackle 14 classic stages totalling 362.25 competitive kilometres, including the epic Col de Turini, before the finish back in Monaco at 11:30 on Saturday 24 January.

After appearing on the IRC as course-opening car on some rallies in 2008, Skoda is a registered manufacturer this year with the new Fabia S2000


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