Skoda boost for Italy

The works Skoda team will be allowed to introduce upgrades to its 2003-specification Fabia WRC at this weekend's Supermag Rally Italia Sardinia after receiving dispensation from the FIA to make alterations to the car under the homologation procedure

Skoda boost for Italy

Skoda has not registered for the World Championship this year as it prepares for a possible full assault in 2005. Under such circumstances, the team would not normally be allowed tomake substantial changes to the Fabia.

Following the agreement of rival manufacturers, though, the FIA has given Skoda permission for a two-stage homologation. In Sardinia, which takes over from Sanremo as the host of Italy's WRC round, the car will feature a modified exhaust and rear chassis to improve packaging and an updated water injection system, which will boost the engine's performance.

The team tested on the Mediterranean island in September, and is hopeful of a strong weekend to follow on from its performances in Finland and Germany.

"The technical advances we have built into the car should allow us to make another step forward," said Skoda motorsport boss Martin Muehlmeier. "If we have the same conditions for the rally that we had for testing, then I think we can see another good indication of our car's performance."

Driver Tony Gardemeister added: "From what we saw in testing I think that we can be as close to the leading cars as we saw in Finland. I have been to Sardinia once before, but the Costa Smeralda Rally was run further west than this new event. I'm probably not the best person to ask for advice because I spun twice and rolled the car in the first seven kilometres."

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