From Skoda Press [ 30/09/2004 ].
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Škoda Motorsport is to contest the 2005 FIA World Rally Championship. The decision to commit to a full WRC programme was taken by the Škoda Auto Board of Management this week and confirmed by the Volkswagen Group as the team prepares for the Rally of Italy-Sardinia. In 2004 Škoda Motorsport withdrew from the World Rally Championship to concentrate on a limited programme of test and development with the Fabia WRC. During this strategic programme the Škoda Motorsport World Rally Team recorded the first WRC stage victory for the Fabia WRC, sixth overall on Rally Finland and five outright victories on national events in Germany, Finland and the Czech Republic. This clear progress in performance was the key to persuading the board to back the 2005 campaign.
For 2005 Škoda Motorsport will register as a manufacturer entry with two Fabia WRCs on each event. Details of the driver line-up will be announced at a later date.
Škoda Motorsport represents the Volkswagen Group through the World Rally Championship while other VW Group partners follow different motorsport disciplines in racing and off-road.
Vratislav Kulhanek (Chairman of Škoda Auto) said: “I am delighted that the board has backed Škoda Motorsport’s return to the WRC. The programme is an important element of Škoda Auto’s history but history alone is no guarantee for the future. Everyone must work together to maintain motorsport’s importance to the Škoda brand image.“
Harald Ludanek (Škoda Auto’s Head of Research and Development) said: “Under the team’s new management structure, led by Martin Muehlmeier, everyone has worked hard to get this commitment for next season and a great deal of personal effort has gone into the programme this year. Now we must ensure that the motorsport programme becomes a vital part of the marketing policy of our key European importers in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Britain and also across Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.“
Martin Muehlmeier (Head of Škoda Motorsport World Rally Team) said: “I am pleased that the board has recognised our efforts with this commitment to the immediate future. This is a positive step for the whole WRC and I am sure that our customers and fans around the world will be equally delighted that our motorsport programme is to continue. However, we can not now relax and, indeed, we must increase our efforts to ensure that our short-term future can be extended to the medium and long term.“