The series that started during the quarantine continues. Gabrielius Kapočius reviews the history of Škoda Fabia WRC car and its appearance in Lithuania
Author of the text – Gabrielius Kapočius
The Škoda Fabia WRC was the second car of the Škoda concern prepared according to the regulations of the World Rally Championship. The Fabia replaced the Škoda Octavia WRC that debuted in 1998, which was a fan-favorite model but struggled with performance, to say the least. The Octavia WRC was built on a Kit-Car base, while the Fabia WRC was built from scratch by Czech engineers. At the time, Fabia had the shortest wheelbase among its competitors. The debut took place in the 2003 WRC German Rally. One of the first to test this car was French rally legend – Didier Auriol. Well, the results were not very good. There are several reasons: the car still lacked speed and Škoda had good, but not world-class drivers who would have created competition for Citroen Xsara WRC, Ford Focus RS WRC, Subaru Impreza WRC cars driven by such rally greats of the time as Sebastian Loeb or Peter Solberg. Since 2006, the Škoda factory team has withdrawn from the WRC but has provided support to privateer teams that have used these cars. It lasted for two years.
Unfortunately, no one with a Škoda Fabia WRC ever made it onto the World Rally Championship podium. The greatest achievements were achieved by Scottish rally legend Colin McRae, who finished 7th in the Great Britain Rally, Alexandre Bengué came 6th in Corsica, and the best result in the history of Škoda Fabia WRC in the World Rally Championship belongs to the Czech Jan Kopecky – in 2006. He finished fifth in Catalonia.
This car was also driven by Toni Gardemeister, Armin Schwarz, Jan Kopecky, Francois Duval, Harri Rovanpera, Jani Paasonen, and Roman Kresta. A total of 24 Škoda Fabia WRC cars were produced and participated in 57 WRC rounds. In 2009, the Fabia WRC was replaced by the Škoda Fabia S2000, which was much more successful in the SWRC, IRC, and WRC2 championships. At the moment, three Fabia WRC cars can be seen on special stages – two from time to time in the Czech Republic and one in Belgium.
Škoda Fabia WRC in Lithuania.
In the spring of 2008, the tire of the Lithuanian rally community was very surprised, when Saulius Girdauskas, the multiple champion of the Lithuanian rally, bought a Škoda Fabia WRC, which was driven three years ago by the aforementioned Alexandre Bengué. Immediately, Saulius started to show results and won the “Vilnius” rally, placed in the Top 3 in the “Cesis” Rally of the Latvian championship, and in 2012 he ended his impressive career with this car by becoming the champion of the Lithuanian rally. In 2014, before the last stage of the Lithuanian Rally Championship in Druskininkai, Saulius Girdauskas lent Škoda Fabia WRC to that year’s champion Ramūnas Čapkauskas. Well, then Ramūnas Čapkauskas and Tomas Šipkauskas did not finish. In total, Škoda Fabia WRC participated thirteen times in Lithuania. Later, Saulius sold the car to a Swedish driver, who started with it in the events of the Swedish rally for another couple of years.
Photos – Marek Felt, Petr Lusk, Lukasz Mikulski, Janis Asaris