Skoda Shows Off New R5

SKODA Fabia R5 ConceptŠKODA has announced a major treat for visitors to this year’s Essen Motor Show with an opportunity to see the concept version of the new rally car, the ŠKODA Fabia R 5, for the first time.

It takes place from 29 November to 7 December 2014.

“The world premiere of the Fabia R 5 Concept Car gives an insight into the future of rallying at ŠKODA,” said ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek. “The Fabia R 5 is scheduled to be homologated by mid-2015.”

SKODA Fabia R5 ConceptThe new Fabia R 5 features a lot of high-tech. In keeping with FIA regulations, the new racing car is powered by a 1.6-litre turbo engine. The new car also features a sequential, five-speed gearbox and McPherson struts. The weight will, in accordance with the regulations, be at least 1230 kilograms. A number of top ŠKODA drivers were also involved in the development of the new Fabia R 5.

The 2014 rally season, which has just drawn to an end, saw ŠKODA and the Fabia Super 2000 achieve a hat-trick of titles* in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC). On top of this, ŠKODA also won the Drivers’ title in the FIA European Rally Championship and a further five national championships.

Source: Skoda Press Release


2014 Season Review

Jan KopeckyAfter victory at Japans’ Rally Hokkaido, last year’s European Rally Champion Jan Kopecký from the Czech Republic added another FIA title to his name by winning the 2014 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship. Kopecký’s co-driver Parvel Dresler won the co-driver’s and MRF Skoda team secured the manufacturer’s title for a third time and Team’s Trophy.

Kopecký cemented his title win with victory at the final APRC event for 2014 the China Rally and with four wins out of six events, the Skoda works driver was obviously very happy at final service, “It’s been a great year and thanks a lot to the whole team it was a great opportunity in APRC and hopefully I can come back for some rallies in the future. I think the highlight is we won the championship, our team-mate Gaurav (Gill) was very strong, he knows the conditions and we managed to beat him. I’m very happy we showed that Skoda is really strong, a really strong brand and we showed to everyone our car is really fantastic.”

Yuya SumiyamaJapan’s Yuya Sumiyama in a Group N Cusco Subaru with co-driver Naoki Kase, was second overall in China and with two wins and a second place won the four-round FIA Asia Cup for a record third time, “Asia Cup champion and overall 2nd position, very very happy and good result for the team. The conditions were very slippery and rough condition so we’re lucky”, said Sumiyama at final service.

Sumiyama’s Cusco Racing team have won the Asia Cup title four years in a row and they backed that up with New Zealand driver Mike Young and co-driver Malcolm Read winning the APRC Production Cup in a Cusco prepared Proton Satria.

Mike YoungYoung was the only driver to finish all six events in 2014 and in doing so secured second place in the FIA APRC drivers points, the Junior, Two-wheel drive and Production Cups.

“Its amazing for our team and Cusco, the boys worked so well, not even had a mechanical (problem) this year – we’re over the moon! Malcolm’s (Read) done an awesome job all year, kept me on my toes and in the grove so we’re really happy. Consistency has rewarded us with second in the championship in a 1.6 Proton, against all the four-wheel drive and S2000 cars it’s just awesome”.

Gaurav GillUnfortunately for last year’s drivers champion Gaurav Gill from India it was a season to forget. Gill won the first event in New Zealand by 12 seconds after an epic battle with new team-mate Kopecký, but things started to unravel in New Caledonia with a costly off, that demoted Gill to second place. Worse was to follow in Australia with a huge crash that wrote-off the Racetorque owned Skoda Fabia – luckily Gill and co-driver Glenn Macneall were unhurt. Gill won the Malaysian Rally and this time it was Kopecký’s turn to retire (with suspension damage) meaning the championship was evenly poised heading to Japan. But then Gill crashed again while leading and that was it – game over.

Other contenders in 2014 included Chinese driver Xun Ju who entered a privately run Skoda Fabia S2000, finishing on the podium in Australia but conflicting dates and regulations with the Chinese Rally Championship meant Xun could only enter four events.

Australia’s Mark Pedder was a welcome entry in the 2014 APRC driving a Racetorque prepared Mitsubishi Evo 10. With three podium finishes Pedder was a real contender for the driver’s title and the Group N Production Cup, however a DNF in New Caledonia and China dropped Pedder to 5th in the points.

Sanjay TakaleAfter a promising year in 2013 as a title contender Sanjay Takale moved to a Cusco Subaru Impreza for 2014, but an engine problems led to retirement in New Caledonia and being off the pace in Australia. Takale rolled the Subaru in Malaysia and although he finished the event never recovered the lost time. It was in Japan where Takale finally found his true form, swopping times with Xun and team-mate Young – ending his APRC campaign on a high note and promising to return in 2015.

The APRC’s Pacific and Asia Cup’s continue to be an important addition to the series and while the Pacific Cup was won easily by Kopecký, in the Asia based events there was a lot more competition and a bunch of new competitors. Starting at the Malaysian Rally, eight driver registered for the Asia Cup, run over four events and where points count for the best three events. Sumiyama was second to Gill in Malaysia and took maximum points in Japan and China – after that no-one could catch ‘Sumi’ with the points he’d accumulated.

Dinesh DerahagodaThailand Rally was to have been the finale for the Asia Cup but cancelled its APRC event at the last minute due to financial difficulties and therefore second place went to Dinesh Derahagoda from Sri Lanka in the EZY Racing Mitsubishi. It was just reward for Deheragoda whose Asia Cup campaign was fraught with mechanical difficulties, yet somehow he and the EZY Racing Mitsubishi made it to the finish of all three events they started, picking up valuable points at each.

Japan’s Tomehide Hasegawa in the Hasepro Mitsubishi would have been a contender too if Thailand Rally had run. Opting not to compete in China meant Hasegawa only competed in two events yet still managed to finish sixth in the points.

The 2015 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship calendar is to be confirmed by the FIA and released in December.

Click here to view the final 2014 season results.

Story by Brian Young. Photos by apsm.tv.


Thailand Round Cancelled

The APRC regrets to advise that the FIA APRC Rally of Thailand, round 4 of the 2014 Asia Cup has been cancelled, less than three weeks before the scheduled date of 5-7th December.

In a statement issued by the organisers, they state, “We are very sorry to inform you the Minister of Sport and Tourism of Thailand has not approved the budget to run our event”.


Hybrids Rally in China

Hybrid Rallying, Rally China 2014At one end of the Parc Ferme at the APRC China Rally a row of eight rally cars were parked, all cabled to a nearby power-pole.

This is the BYD team and the first car manufacturer to enter international rallying used a ‘Hybrid’ powered car on such a large scale. For now BYD (Build Your Dreams) is concentrating just on the Chinese Rally Championship but they are looking at the possibility of entering the APRC and other international rallies in the future.

APRC TV interviewed Mr Gao Zi-kai, Deputy General Manager of BYD Auto Sales and this is what he had to say about BYD and their reasons for entering a rally team in CRC.

Hybrid Rallying, Rally China 2014
“First, we want to promote new energy vehicles to more people though car rally. Second, we want to test the performance of our cars by this competition,and find the problems,constantly optimize the product. Third, we hope through this platform to enhance our brand glamour,meanwhile make more and more people know and like BYD. Fourth, as the first hybrid rally team in the world, we represent the most technically advanced in the world, we hope our participation can make the rally richer and fuller.”

“This is the first year that we participate in rally (CRC), now the events come to the end, we will do some summaries and plans. When we make plans for the next year, we will consider taking part in APRC.”

“Whether we will participate in APRC is uncertain now, but as a trend, we would take part more events in china and even the world in the future to show our cars.”

“Because of Qin’s (the brand name of BYD rally car) superior performance in rally, we believe that in the future, new energy vehicles will fill the (service-park) autodrome.”

Story and photos by aprc.tv


Young Triples Again

Mike Young, China Rally 2014Mike Young, New Zealand’s only competitor in the 2014 Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), finished second in the APRC overall drivers’ championship and simultaneously wrapped up the prestigious Production Cup title after finishing third overall at the China Rally, held in Longyou over the weekend.

Joined by co-driver Malcolm Read, Young drove his Cusco Racing Proton to the team’s third title this year after already securing the Junior Cup and Two-wheel-drive Cup following their strong season which saw them finish every rally on the APRC calendar.

Young said: “That consistency has rewarded us with second place in the championship, and that result [second place] against four-wheel drive and S2000 cars in 1.6 litre two-wheel-drive Proton is just awesome.

“Adding the Production Cup to our list of trophies is also a great feeling. We’ve worked incredibly hard at every event this year so it’s nice to have all of our hard work pay off. We’ve looked at everything from our pace notes, to my driving style, and introduced a game-plan for each event and it has all been worth it.”
Young also adds that his hard-working Cusco Racing team has been full of incredible support in his campaign towards his three titles in 2014, after he also secured three APRC titles in 2013 (Asia Cup, Two-wheel-drive Cup and Junior Cup).

Mike Young, China Rally 2014“Cusco has done an absolutely amazing job again as there has not been a single mechanical problem at all this year plus they gave me another great car. Malcolm [Read] has also done an awesome job as he helped me to find the fine-line between being on the pace but avoiding trouble.

“In fact, ever since Malcolm [Read] jumped in the car, my rally career turned around. We’ve now finished nine rallies in a row together and I think that’s a real credit to the way we work together plus his professionalism and skill,” Young explained.

The Production Cup title didn’t come easy for Young however, as Australian rival, Mark Pedder, chased him down and the final round at the China Rally was “tougher than expected.”

Young reported that heavy rain made the roads slippery and the frequent big rocks made driving hazardous but ultimately, Young’s clean sweep of finishes this year meant he had a great points advantage that simply could not be beaten.

Mike Young, China Rally 2014Finally, Young adds: “I just want to say a massive thank you to all of my sponsors and fans for all of the support this year. It has been absolutely incredible and I just can’t thank you all enough. I do have to give a special mention to Cusco, Dunlop and Yoda Rallying though as they’ve been particularly supportive this year.”

Young and his team now shift their focus to plans for the 2015 rally season with details not ready to be released yet.

To keep up to date with Michael Young and his team during the off-season, head to: https://www.facebook.com/MikeYoungMotorsport

Young’s APRC campaign is supported by Cusco, Dunlop, Yoda Rallying, OMP, CRC Speedshow, Club Cadet and Sommet Sports.

Story: Team Release
Photos: apsm.tv and Mitsura Kotake


China no problem for Kopecky

Jan Kopecky - China Rally 2014Jan Kopecký driving an MRF Skoda Fabia S2000 won the China Rally by more than three minutes reinforcing his and Skoda’s dominance of the series in 2014.

Kopecký’s task was made easier on Day 1, when team-mate Gaurav Gill who was leading the event at the time, hit a rock on Stage 5 that damaged the Skoda’s steering – resulting in a heavy crash and retirement on Stage 6.

Gaurav Gill - China Rally 2014Arriving back at final service in Longyou there were big celebrations with the team and with four wins out of six events, Kopecký was obviously very happy. “It’s been a great year and thanks a lot to the whole team it was a great opportunity in APRC and hopefully I can come back for some rallies in the future. I think the highlight is we won the championship, our team-mate Gaurav was very strong, he knows the conditions and we managed to beat him. I’m very happy we showed that Skoda is really strong, a really strong brand and we showed to everyone our car is really fantastic.”

Yuya Sumiyama - China Rally 2014Japan’s Yuya Sumiyama in a Group N Cusco Subaru was second overall and secured enough points, with one round in Thailand still to run, to win the 2014 Asia Cup for a third time. “Asia Cup champion and overall 2nd position, very very happy and good result for the team. The conditions were very slippery and rough condition so we’re lucky”, said Sumiyama at final service.

It was another giant killing performance from New Zealander Mike Young bringing his Cusco Proton Satria home third overall and securing the APRC Production Cup. Young was the only driver to finish all events in 2014 and in doing so moved himself into second place in the drivers points.

Mike Young - China Rally 2014“Its amazing for our team and Cusco, the boys worked so well, not even had a mechanical (problem) this year – we’re over the moon! Malcolm’s done an awesome job all year, kept me on my toes and in the grove so we’re really happy. Consistency has rewarded us with second in the championship in a 1.6 Proton, against all the four-wheel drive cars it’s just awesome”.

In only his third APRC event EZY Racing’s Dinesh Deheragoda from Sri Lanka found the conditions very difficult, but is looking forward to the next event in Thailand where he hopes to secure second in the Asia Cup, “Points for second in Asia Cup is more than I expected and my congratulations to Sumiyama who is already the Asia Cup champion mathematically. My target now is to see if I can finish second in the championship with some more points in Thailand.”

Dinesh Deheragoda - China Rally 2014China Rally again proved to be a tough event to finish, especially with the wet conditions on Day 1. Australian Mark Pedder suffered the same fate as Gill hitting a rock on Stage 5 and retiring with damaged steering.

There was no finish ceremony or celebrations at 2014 China Rally, after an accident on Stage 6 claimed the life of 20 year old Taiwanese driver Xie Chengxun.

China was the final event in the APRC’ s drivers and manufacturers, while there is still one round to go in the Asia Cup with Thailand Rally 5 – 7th December.

Provisional Results – China Rally 7-9th November, Round 6 of the 2014 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
1. Jan KOPECKY / Pavel DRESLER, 02:57:10.3
2. Yuya SUMIYAMA / Naoki KASE, + 03:57.2
3. Michael YOUNG / Malcolm READ, + 24:52.2
4. Dinesh DEHERAGODA/ Shafraz JUNAID, + 56:46.0

Story and photos by Brian Young – apsm.tv. Additional photos by Mitsura Kotake