Three Fabias head to Sweden

Three Fabias head to SwedenFrom Skoda Press [ 04/02/2005 ].
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The Škoda Motorsport World Rally Team heads for the Swedish Rally (February 10-13) with three Scandinavian drivers at the wheel of the Fabia WRC. Janne Tuohino will be the nominated driver alongside Audi Sport’s DTM Champion Mattias Ekström who joins the team from Škoda Motorsport’s partner in the VW Group for a one-off drive. It is Janne’s first drive for the team while Mattias arrives in Karlstad after dominating a recent Swedish national event with the Red Bull-liveried Fabia WRC as he prepared for his first WRC event in a manufacturer-nominated car. A third Fabia WRC will be driven by Jani Paasonen who is standing-in for the injured Armin Schwarz. It is his third event for the team but his first time in the Fabia WRC on snow as the testing was carried out by Mattias and Janne.

Mattias said: “I’m really looking forward to competing at this level for the first time in a factory car. Being nominated by Škoda Motorsport for points doesn’t put any extra pressure on me but the fact that the team has felt it can trust me with the responsibility actually gives me even more confidence. All I am hoping for is a good clean run from start to finish.”

Janne said: “This is one of my favourite rallies. I got my best result there when I finished fourth last year and I got two fastest times during the event. The big question is whether there is going to be enough snow to be able to use the snow banks to drive quicker.”

Jani said: “It isn’t perhaps the way that I would have liked to get this drive and I’m sorry for Armin but all the same I’m feeling very happy to have the chance. Sweden is one of my favourite events and I hope that I can get a good result for the team. The car is very good and so I am confident we can do well.”

Head of the Škoda Motorsport World Rally Team, Martin Muehlmeier, said: “This is quite a tricky event for us as it is the first time we have contested the Swedish Rally with the Fabia WRC. We know that it is usually a very close rally with good competition so we must try not to make even the smallest mistake. We have three good Scandinavian drivers and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Team news:

There was good news recently for Škoda Motorsport’s young Czech driver Jan Kopecký. The reigning Czech Rally Champion was awarded the Golden Steering Wheel by the ACCR (the Czech motorsport association) as the best rally driver for 2004.

Mattias Ekström’s girlfriend Tina Thörner, a former Škoda Motorsport co-driver, is sharing presenter duties on Swedish Television (SVT) with Swedish rally veteran Per Eklund during the rally.

Swedish Rally in detail:

The Swedish Rally is based in Karlstad at the heart of the Värmland region although the service area is centred on Hagfors around 80kms to the north east. It is to be hoped that the recent warm weather breaks and brings snow-covered surfaces in time to maintain this event’s tradition of being the only snow rally of the year and one of the fastest in the championship.

Following a ceremonial start in the Karlstad town square on Thursday evening the rally begins properly on Friday with seven stages (106.48kms in a day’s route of 600.70kms) featuring two runs each over three stages before a short sprint stage in the evening. Saturday’s second leg includes another seven stages (totalling 139.53kms in a leg total of 685.71kms) including the 26.40kms Lejen, the longest stage of the event. Sunday’s six stages total 113.86kms in a leg total of 463.91kms and include the only new stage of the event, Lesjöfors, run twice. The event finishes in Karlstad at approximately 3.00pm.