Both ŠKODA Motorsport's factory crews, Hänninen/Markkula and Kopecký/Dresler, to appear in the season's opening event
■The Jänner Rally is part of the European, Czech and Austrian championships■ŠKODA's ambition is to fight for top ranks again in the new season
Ready to field both of its factory crews, the ŠKODA Motorsport team is entering the 2012 season at the Jänner Rally, which takes place in Austria over the first weekend of January. After the most successful season in its history, ŠKODA Motorsport will fight for the top spot again in 2012, and will focus on three series in total. While the priority is to repeat ŠKODA's 2011 victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), the team will also compete in selected events of the European and Czech championships.
Taking place in the surroundings of the Austrian town of Freistadt, the opening event of the new season is part of the European Championship for the first time in its history. In addition to being part of the Austrian Championship as usual, the Jänner Rally is again part of the Czech Championship after a three-year break.
Reigning SWRC World Champion Juho Hänninen is very determined: “We’re glad that it's all about to start again. Jänner will be a completely new experience, both the event itself and the whole European Championship. At the same time, it's a new challenge and we are not afraid of it. And it certainly would be even more interesting for all of us if there was some snow on the roads.”
IRC Vice-Champion Jan Kopecký is starting the new season with a new co-driver: “The first event of the season is always rather special. Pavel and I are looking forward to it - we have our first whole year together ahead of us. I have competed three times in the Jänner, and I realise that a lot will depend on the stage conditions.”
Typically, the Jänner Rally offers variable road conditions, often including snow. The programme includes 18 special stages (240 competitive kilometres) and over 600 kilometres of road section. The start list includes nine times Austrian Champion Raimund Baumschlager in a private Fabia Super 2000.