› Lappi/Ferm and Wiegand/Christian start at the ERC rally in Greece
› A re-worked classic: the “Acropolis” for the first time in March and on a mixture of asphalt and gravel
› Victory in Latvia sees Esapekka Lappi lead the ERC ahead of the third round of the season
Mladá Boleslav, 24 March 2014 – ŠKODA lines up at the third round of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) with high expectations on the back of a success. Following the win at the Rally Latvia in February, the ŠKODA works pair of Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN) travel to the legendary Acropolis Rally on 28 to 30 March with more points to their name (both 39 points) than any other duo. Also in action at the classic around the Gulf of Corinth: their comrades in arms from the ŠKODA AUTO Germany team, Sepp Wiegand and Frank Christian (D/D), in the second ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.
“The ‘Acropolis’ is another completely new rally for us,” said Lappi. “For this reason, as with nearly every event this year, our primary goal will be to gain experience. And with a little luck are certainly capable of picking up another good result. What makes this rally particularly interesting is the fact that it switches from asphalt to gravel on day two. To be honest, I still have no idea what the asphalt streets look like in Greece. I am also curious to see how competitive our rivals’ R 5 cars are.”
Sepp Wiegand is also looking forward to the next challenge after his fifth place in Latvia. “The changing conditions mean I am expecting it to be a very testing rally,” said the German. “As a driver, you have to change from one driving style to another overnight. The car set-up also changes dramatically. My goal is to make it to the finish without any problems and to follow on from my good stage times at the Rally Latvia.”
The Acropolis Rally, for decades a permanent fixture in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), makes its first appearance on the ERC calendar this year. As well as the change in championship, the Greek round of the ERC has also been moved forward: rather than in June, as has previously been the norm, this year’s classic will take place in March for the first time.
After Friday’s qualifying on a 3.27-kilometre asphalt stage not far from the rally HQ in Loutraki, the Acropolis Rally opens with two loops of three asphalt special stages amounting to 124.62 kilometres against the clock on Saturday. A further 114.22 kilometres of special stage are scheduled for the Sunday: as well as a short 1.18-kilometre spectator stage, the competitors will also tackle two loops of three gravel stages.
Meanwhile, work on the Fabia R 5, the successor to the successful Fabia Super 2000, is in full flow in Mladá Boleslav. The development of the new racing car, which is based on the future production model of the Fabia and equipped with a 1.6-litre turbo engine in line with FIA regulations, is high on ŠKODA Motorsport’s list of priorities for the 2014 season. “That is our motorsport future. Entering the R 5 class is a logical step for the ŠKODA brand,” said ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek. “As it stands, we expect the new car to be homologated by mid-2015.”
Karel Pokorny, Communication Motorsport
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