From Ron Salter [ 23/07/2008 ].
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Skoda look set to register for the 2009 IRC after bosses from the Czech manufacturer visited the Ypres Rally two weeks ago for discussions with series promoter Eurosport Events. The firm's Fabia S2000 has been undergoing heavy development testing in recent months in the hands of Jan Kopecky, Raimund Baumschlager, Sebastien Lindholm and Carlos Sainz. Kopecky now looks set to abandon his 2008 IRC campaign behind the wheel of a Peugeot 207 and instead run several of the remaining events in the Fabia as 'zero car'. This will give Skoda an ideal opportunity to compare the performance of their new vehicle against top S2000 opposition from Peugeot and Abarth before the car is homologated.
It is not yet known whether Skoda intend to enter a full works team on the 2009 IRC like Abarth or support private teams in a similar fashion to Peugeot. Kopecky's family CRT team successfully ran the promising young Czech on the WRC in 2006 and 2007 and could perform a similar job for the Mlada Boleslav manufacturer this time around.
Skoda are understood to be one of four new manufacturers looking at registering for the IRC in 2009.