New Skoda Rally Car Shows Promise In The Rallye Sunseeker

Skoda Fabia Rally Car

The debut of Škoda UK’s new Group A Fabia in the Bournemouth-based Rallye Sunseeker at the weekend gave the team grounds for considerable optimism. The car had established a lead of almost half a minute over the other cars in its class in 30 miles of special stages – a second a mile quicker than anyone else – before it was forced to withdraw from the event just before halfway when electrical problems intervened.

The Fabia, originally built by the Š koda Motorsport team at their factory in the Czech Republic, had arrived in the UK less than a month before its competition debut and driver Iain Freestone was delighted with its obvious potential. "Having had so much success with the Group N Fabia in last year’s National Rally Championship, we were eager to see just how the modifications that are allowed under Group A regulations would affect the car’s performance. Rallye Sunseeker is unusual in that it contains both gravel and tarmac special stages and it was immediately apparent that the Group A Fabia was an excellent handling car."

"The first stage of the rally starts in the gardens in the centre of Bournemouth," Iain explained, "and heads out along the Promenade. The early morning dampness made the going very slippery but our Dunlop tyres, allied to the general surefootedness of the car, helped us a great deal. The forestry stages, which are used a number of times during the rally, have a reputation for cutting up after a large number of cars have passed, but we were able to use the Fabia’s extra power to our advantage and pull away from the other cars in our class."

Rallye Sunseeker is the largest event of its type in the south of England and, consequently, attracts a good deal of publicity. The Group N Fabia had been on display at Westover Škoda in Bournemouth, who was supporting the team, during the week leading up to the rally. The retailer reported a high level of interest in the car that will also be contesting a number of events later in the season.

Following their trip to the south coast, the team will now turn their attention to North Wales for the next round of the National Rally Championship, the Astra Stages, which is based in Llangollen and takes place on Saturday 12th April. It was on this event last year that Iain Freestone and co-driver Nick Kennedy took their first class win of the season and hopes are high of a repeat performance.

Published : 26/02/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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