Skoda scales down effort

Skoda will not appear in next year's World Rally Championship until the Acropolis Rally in June. The Czech marque had already decided to reduce its programme for 2004, but has now scaled back further to concentrate on development of the Fabia WRC

Skoda scales down effort

The Fabia WRC was largely uncompetitive in 2003, despite showing flashes of promise. Skoda will undertake a large testing and development programme in the first half of next year before its return to the championship on the Greek event.

In addition to its decision to participate in selected rounds, the team has made significant changes to its management and driver line-up.

The team has dropped former champion Didier Auriol, one of the WRC's biggest names, although his replacement has yet to be named. Toni Gardemeister will be retained to carry out the development work planned for the Fabia.



On the management side, long-time boss Pavel Janeba will leave Skoda at the end of this year. Janeba been with the manufacturer since 1990 and was responsible for introducing the Octavia and Fabia machines to the WRC. Janeba will continue to collaborate with Skoda on a consultancy basis.

Harald Ludanek will take over the responsibility for Skoda's WRC effort. Ludanek insisted that the decision to replace Auriol had been entirely amicable.

"Bearing in mind our new priorities for 2004 we reached a gentleman's agreement with Didier," he said. "His acquisition last year was extremely valuable and our relationship remains very friendly."

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