From Skoda Press [ 20/01/2006 ].
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The changeable weather was not the only factor complicating the first leg of this year’s Rallye Monte Carlo. Only eleven cars managed to start Stage 1; local traffic congestion prevented the other crews from reaching the starting line.
Again, only the first eleven crews battled it out in Stage 2, and Stage 3 was cancelled completely. Those crews who were unable to compete in these stages were given notional times – the worst time achieved in each stage. As a result, the crew of the Czech Rally Team Škoda-Kopecký found itself almost three minutes behind the leader after the first section without having completed an inch of the course!
In Stage 5, the Jan Kopecký - Filip Schovánek crew notched up a fantastic ninth place in their Škoda Fabia WRC, 4.3 seconds behind the Rallye Monte Carlo’s first-leg frontrunner Marcus Grönholm.
The temperature dipped sharply during Stage 6, and the crews starting further down the line had considerable problems keeping their cars on the freezing road surface. Three kilometres before the finish line, the Škoda Fabia WRC was unfortunate to skid, and its left side collided with the rock face. Jan kept his composure and turned the car’s wheels just before impact to prevent serious damage to the Škoda Fabia WRC. After clocking the eleventh-best time in Stage 6, the Czech Rally Team Škoda-Kopecký occupied thirteenth place overall at the end of Friday’s leg of the rally.
‘We took the decision to use studded winter tyres for the first three stages. This choice proved to be very wise. It’s just a shame we were unable to put it to the test. For the second section, we again made the right choice of tyres opting for asphalt rain tyres. We took Friday’s leg in our stride. The constantly changing conditions required a great deal of improvisation and a lot depended on the driver’s ability to react fast.
The weather became much colder during the final stage and the course started freezing over. Three kilometres before the end of the stage there was a passage that ended in a section of snow. So I accelerated, but just before the curve there was a sheet of ice. I had to respond by using the handbrake, but even so the left side of the car brushed against the rock. From there until the end of the stage I had to slacken the pace because we weren’t sure how badly the car had been damaged. Luckily the Škoda Fabia WRC didn’t suffer that much. I’m grateful to all the members of the Czech Rally Team Škoda-Kopecký who are fixing the car and getting it ready for the stages on Saturday,’ said driver Jan Kopecký at the end of Friday’s leg.
‘The Czech Rally Team Škoda-Kopecký was only given half a chance to prove itself today. I rate the second section of the day very positively. The times were good, and Jan and Filip are thirteenth after Friday’s leg. They should start third on Saturday, but we don’t know yet how advantageous that starting position will be,’ added team manager Josef Kopecký.