Skoda launches new Fabia R 5 rally car for WRC2 but won't enter ERC

Skoda Motorsport launched its long-awaited Fabia R 5 in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, and will focus on the World Rally Championship's WRC2 class with the new car

Skoda launches new Fabia R 5 rally car for WRC2 but won't enter ERC

The car, which was homologated by the FIA earlier this month, was unveiled at a test track close to the Skoda factory in Mlada Boleslav.

Jan Kopecky will give the car its competitive debut at Rally Sumava Klatovy in Czech Republic next weekend.

Reigning European Rally champion Esapekka Lappi will lead Skoda's main effort in WRC2, with other programmes running in the Czech Republic and the Asia-Pacific series.

But there will be no factory campaign in the ERC, which Skoda has dominated in recent years - taking Juho Hanninen, Kopecky and Lappi to back-to-back titles from 2012-14.

It also won the Intercontinental Rally Challenge series that superseded the ERC in 2013 from 2010-12 with Hanninen and Andreas Mikkelsen.

Skoda Motorsport director Michal Hrabanek said: "Our European champions Esapekka Lappi and [co-driver] Janne Ferm will contest the WRC2 category of the World Rally Championship.

"Asia-Pacific champions Jan Kopecky and Pavel Dresler will mainly compete in the Czech Rally Championship.

"Naturally we also want to introduce our new Fabia R 5 to our core market of China, which is why we will also present our new rally car to the fans during the course of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship season.

"Our new team of Pontus Tidemand and Emil Axelsson, with whom we want to reinforce our future standing, will be in action there.

"Pontus Tidemand and Jan Kopecky will also contest selected races in the WRC2 over the course of the season."

Lappi's programme will start at the Rally of Portugal next month.

"We can't wait for our first race in the new Fabia R 5," he said.

"We are excited about the new car, it's something really special.

"We are delighted to return to the WRC top tier."

Kopecky added: "We have tested the new car extensively. I am convinced that our team of many international engineers has done a great job."

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