Skoda Move Into Fourth Place In The World Rally Championship After Great Drive On Safari Rally

The Škoda Motorsport of crew Roman Kresta and Jan Tomanek finished the Inmarsat Safari Rally in seventh position overall after three tough days. By doing so, they scored three manufacturer’s points for Škoda in the FIA World Rally Championship, with three cars ahead of them in the final results not eligible to score manufacturer points. Škoda has consequently moved up to a solid fourth position in the manufacturers’ championship. The 26-year old Czech Roman Kresta celebrated his second World Rally finish here in Kenya, one of only 11 of the 48 starters to reach the finish in Nairobi.

The 50th Inmarsat Safari Rally is the toughest round of the FIA World Rally Championship. It is run over three days, covering a total distance of 2431 kilometres. Twelve competitive stages were run over 1010 kilometres, on open roads, in some of the most spectacular terrain imaginable. Rally crews must beware of spectators, other vehicles in the road, as well as wild animals.

Škoda Motorsport entered three cars in the Safari Rally, and all three initially appeared indestructible, but the team suffered from bad luck when relatively small problems forced both Kenneth Eriksson and Toni Gardemeister to retire. Kenneth Eriksson was aiming for a podium result in this year’s Safari, and believed he could even challenge for win. He was in a strong fourth position when a gearbox problem forced him to stop just a few hundred metres from where his service crew would have been allowed to help with the car. Toni Gardemeister performed well during the opening stages of the event and also seemed set for a solid finish. Unfortunately the Finn hit a deep hole on the last stage of the first day, resulting in a broken wheel and early retirement.

Roman Kresta was ecstatic with the result. "I’m very proud to be the first Czech to finish the Safari Rally. During the past three days I proved that I can fight with the leading WRC drivers. Today went really well, although we did not attack any more. There was nothing to gain and a lot to lose. This is typically an event where it counts to have great technical knowledge of the car and we proved that here! I have to thank Škoda Motorsport for giving me the opportunity to drive on the Safari Rally and for preparing such a strong Octavia WRC."

Team Manager Pavel Janeba was equally happy. "I’m very proud for Roman and Jan, who drove in a very clever way. It is a great personal achievement for Roman and he becomes the first Czech driver

to score WRC points for a manufacturer. However, I’m still very disappointed about the retirements of both Toni and Kenneth. They were in a good position to score even more points. But of course I’m pleased with the 3 points that Kresta and Tomanek have scored here for us."

Published : 17/07/02 Author : Melanie Carter

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