- The IRC championship remains the priority - ŠKODA Motorsport to compete in the European Championship series for the first time - The team's agenda for the Czech rally championship has been extended - Hänninen and Kopecký named again as factory drivers - The team will enter the new year with a new factory-car design
Mladá Boleslav, 16 December, 2011 – The ŠKODA Motorsport team will continue the Fabia Super 2000 car in 2012. The team will be hoping to win the Manufacturer’s title for the third year running. This has been the most successful year in the brand's long history of motorsport efforts. The participation in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) with the Fabia Super 2000, where ŠKODA has won the titles in both the Drivers and Manufacturers categories for two consecutive years, remains the brand's top priority. Furthermore, one of the factory crews will compete in selected rallies of the European Championship, and the factory team will appear in the Czech rally championship. Juho Hänninen and Jan Kopecký remain the brand's factory drivers for 2012. The first event in 2012 to see the factory team in action is the Jänner Rally, taking place in Austria over the first weekend of January.
Commenting on the team's agenda in 2012, Head of the ŠKODA Motorsport team Michal Hrabánek says: “ŠKODA's top priority will be to defend the IRC titles we have won in the past two years. Three drivers in factory-prepared Fabia Super 2000s are going to fight for points in the Manufacturers category – Jan Kopecký and Juho Hänninen of ŠKODA Motorsport (factory team) and Andreas Mikkelsen of ŠKODA UK Motorsport. With future prospects in mind, we want to gain experience in selected events of the European Championship where we will be represented by Juho Hänninen and Mikko Markkula, one of our factory crews. Intending to become even more visible in the home market, the other factory crew,Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler, will appear on Czech tracks as part of the Czech Championship. Pavel Dressler has replaced Petr Starý who, unfortunately, has a long-standing health problem – in this connection, the whole team wishes Petr a fast recovery.”
2011 SWRC Champion Juho Hänninen: “I have learned a lot at ŠKODA Motorsport over the past three years, and these have been more than good times for the entire team. I believe that we will be successful also next year, which holds some new rallies for us, but that is exactly what makes this sport so exciting. I am pretty certain that we are going to make another step ahead with the Fabia.”
Three times IRC runner up Jan Kopecký: “I appreciate the opportunity to continue co-operating with ŠKODA Motorsport. Our ambition in the Czech Championship is of course to keep appearing on the top ranks and the goal in the selected IRC events is to always win as many points as possible in order to help ŠKODA win the third title in the Manufacturers category. I want to say a big thank you to Petr Starý for three great years that we have spent together and wish him a fast recovery.”
The Mladá Boleslav-based car manufacturer is celebrating 110 years of its motorsport efforts in 2011, a year which, has been its most successful so far. ŠKODA has comfortably repeated last year's victory in the Manufacturers category of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge championship, Fabia Super 2000 drivers have won the first three places in the Drivers category of the IRC (Mikkelsen 1st, Kopecký 2nd, Hänninen 3rd) and Juho Hänninen and Mikko Markkula have won the first-ever SWRC title for ŠKODA. At the end of this year, ŠKODA Motorsport and its Fabia Super 2000s made their debut in the Race of Champions, a prestigious multi-discipline event with a history of more than 20 years.