Fabia shows promise for future

Fabia shows promise for futureFrom Skoda Press [ 26/07/2003 ].
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The Škoda Motorsport World Rally Team has been forced to retire its second Fabia WRC from Rallye Deutschland. On SS13 Toni broke a driveshaft. It was not a major problem and he continued on the stage but the right rear wheel became blocked, and with only front wheel drive, it was not possible to complete the stage. Toni had begun today’s second leg in 12th position but lost three places over the first two stages because of an incorrect tyre choice for the changeable weather conditions. “My tyre compound was too hard for the conditions on the first stage,” he said, “but it was better on the second.” Toni was not the only driver to suffer with this problem and there was no ideal solution to the variable stage conditions.

Ninth fastest time on SS10 (Toni’s second top 10 placing of the event) saw him regain the three places immediately but then on SS11 he was among several drivers to damage their suspension. Toni said: “Everything was fine on SS10, we had a perfect balance with the car and my confidence was growing with every kilometre. On the next stage I hit a kerb and broke the left rear suspension but we were able to continue slowly to service.

“Obviously I am disappointed that we couldn’t go further in the rally but in many ways this has still been a good event,” he said. “We saw on several occasions that the car can be very fast and the handling balance is perfect. We came to learn and gain information and that is what we have done. We have identified important areas for future improvement.”

After retiring on last night’s final stage with a damaged engine, Toni’s Škoda Motorsport Team colleague Didier Auriol was pleased with his first experience of competition in the Fabia WRC. “Of course I am sad for the team that I couldn’t reach the finish,” he said. “However, we came here to learn and, like Toni, I am happy that I now know the next steps we must take to continue the development of the car.”

Škoda Auto Director of Motorsport Petr Kohoutek reflected on the debut event for the Fabia WRC. “Our aim for this event was always to collect data and drive as many kilometres as possible. We weren't able to complete the rally but we are satisfied with the mileage we did and it proved that the rally itself is the best test of the car. None of the problems we encountered here have occurred during our private testing. We have not yet analysed all the data but the car has clearly shown its potential.”

Tomorrow’s final five stages feature two tests in the Mosel vineyards, each run twice, separated by a single Saarland stage close to St Wendel. The shortest day of the event, stage distance is 59.99kms in a total route of 557.83kms. The finish of the event is at 1550.