Skoda Fabia

The all-conquering Skoda British Fabia Rally Team begin their 2003 campaign on Saturday 22nd February when they contest the Bournemouth-based Rallye Sunseeker, the opening round of the Kumho National Rally Championship.

Having totally dominated Class N1 in the 2002 Championship in their Fabia, with five class wins from six starts, driver Iain Freestone and co-driver Nick Kennedy are moving on this season to a Group A car and already have their sights set on a repeat performance.

The Group A 1400cc Fabia was built by the Skoda Motorsport Team at their factory in the Czech Republic and it was they who decided that the car should be run in the UK. It only arrived on these shores in mid-January and, since then, the engineers at Jondel Motorsport in Northampton, who will prepare and run the Fabia, have been hard at work readying it for its debut.

With over twenty years experience of active competition, Iain Freestone is relishing the challenge afforded by the Group A Fabia. "Following the domination of our class in the National Rally Championship last year, the Group A car is the logical step forward. I am delighted that Skoda has asked me to continue with the car’s development. In addition to the extra power, the new car has several differences to the Group N version, not least of which is the fact that it is left-hand drive! Rallye Sunseeker was the one event we failed to finish last year and, as far as I am concerned, I feel that we have some unfinished business to attend to here."

Rallye Sunseeker is the largest motorsport event in the south of England’s calendar and, this year, has attracted a capacity entry of 120 cars. From the start in the centre of Bournemouth at 8.15am on the Saturday morning, crews will head off to the first of 16 special stages, totalling 75 miles of flat-out motoring. The first car is then due back at the finish in the town at 6.15pm that afternoon and such is the compact nature of the 175-mile route that it is all contained on just one 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey map.

The event contains both gravel and tarmac stages rather than, as is more usually the case, one or the other. In some ways, this acts to level the playing field as any driver with a particular preference for rallying on one type of surface will also have to do as well as possible on the rest of the rally.

The Skoda British Fabia Rally Team are set to contest up to five rounds of the Kumho National Championship, while other events may be added as the season progresses.

Published : 16/02/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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