Skoda cuts back for 2004

Skoda is to cut back its World Rally Championship programme in 2004, because of the cost of competing on the expanded 16-round championship that is being introduced for next season

Skoda cuts back for 2004

The Czech manufacturer will not register for the championship next year and will simply undertake a programme of 10 WRC events in Europe. The decision was revealed by Skoda Auto chairman Vratislav Kulhanek to Czech newspaper Daily Sport.

The decision not to register means that Skoda will not be allowed to homologate a new version of the Fabia WRC and will have to use the current evolution for any events it does contest.

Toni Gardemeister is expected to stay with the team, but this could well mean the end for Didier Auriol's Skoda career. The Frenchman is known to have wanted a serious development programme if he was to take up an option to stay.

The second car now looks likely to be shared between young Czechs Roman Kresta and Jan Kopecky and Finnish rising star Mikko Hirvonen.

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