Škoda continued their motorsport centenary celebrations at the Safari Rally, as Armin Schwarz/ Manfred Hiemer finished third overall, the team’s best-ever result in a World Rally Championship round. The Safari Rally, the eighth round of the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship, held 19-21 July in Kenya, is the toughest round of the championship, as only 15 of the original 41 cars entered finished the rally. Škoda’s third place finish earned four points, giving the team 15 points in the Manufacturer’s Championship and retaining fifth place.
Škoda led the rally after the first stage, as Armin Schwarz outpaced the competition by four seconds. Schwarz continued to place among the top drivers throughout the rally. Ecstatic at the result, the Škoda driver commented, "The car performed very well throughout the whole event, which made it possible to drive up to the limit. It’s proof that the car has made great improvements on the technical side."
Škoda team mates Bruno Thiry/ Stephane Prevot drove an impressive rally, but retired due to an accident 30 kilometres from the end of the last stage. Thiry and Prevot were taken by helicopter to hospital in Nairobi, where Prevot was diagnosed to have a broken lower vertebra. His injury is not serious, but he will remain in hospital until later this week. Bruno Thiry was not injured, and will likely be released today.
The Škoda team’s third driver, Roman Cresta, competed in his first World Rally Championship round at the Safari Rally. Cresta drove well but retired on the third stage when he broke a wheel.
Škoda will continue their centenary celebrations as they prepare for the Rally of Finland, 23-26 August, where the team will also run a third car, driven by long-time Škoda driver, Stig Blomquist.
2001 Safari Rally Kenya: Final Results
1. Makinen/Mannisenmaki Mitsubishi Lancer 8.58.37,0 2. Rovanpera/Pietalainen Peugeot 206 9.11.14,0 3. Schwarz/Hiemer Skoda Octavia WRC 9.16.52,0 4. Delecour/Grataloup Ford Focus RS 9.19.13,0 5. Loix/Smeets Mitsubishi Carisma 10.42.39,0
Current Standing: 2001 FIA World Rally Championship – Drivers
1. T. Makinen 40 2. C. McRae 30 3. C. Sainz 26 4. H. Rovanpera 20 5. R. Burns 15 10. A. Schwarz 7
2001 FIA World Rally Championship – Manufacturers
1. Mitsubishi 66 2. Ford 60 3. Subaru 28 4. Peugeot 26 5. Skoda 15 6. Hyundai 10
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