Jan Kopecký and Petr Starý of the Škoda Motorsport factory team have won the Principe de Asturias Rally taking place near Oviedo, Spain, thus ensuring that the finish of this year's IRC series will be very dramatic. Continuing in less than two weeks in San Remo, Italy, with Škoda Motorsport's Jan Kopecký – Petr Starý and Juho Hänninen – Mikko Markkula on the start list, the end of the IRC series is likely to culminate in an exciting tiebreak.
Run on asphalt as part of the Spanish championship, the Principe de Asturias Rally was to include a total of 15 special stages (254 km in total), but the organisers cancelled one of Friday's nine. With two special stages wins, Jan Kopecký was third after the first day, 10.4 seconds behind the leader. Knowing the ropes on the local stages, Spaniard Alberto Hevia in a private Fabia Super 2000 also won two special stages and was lying second at the end of Day 1, 8.2 seconds behind Basso (Italy).
Saturday's agenda included the remaining six special stages. Just as on Friday, the weather was warm and sunny, except for some fog rising off the track in the morning. The only crew of those with victory aspirations to have avoided problems with a punctured tyre, Škoda Motorsport cruised to a second consecutive win after their great victory at the Zlin Rally in August. The hope that Spaniard Hevia might take the second rostrum position and thus help the Fabia Super 2000 win a double died at the last-but-one stage – after a puncture (which, by the way, was the reason for failure by a number of favourites to move up on Saturday), Hevia finished sixth in the overall ranking.
Commenting on another great achievement of the Fabia Super 2000 this year, Head of Škoda Motorsport Michal Hrabánek says: “I am pleased that we managed to include this competition in Spain to our agenda. I wish to thank Jan, Petr and the whole team for this excellent result and I also thank Alberto Hevia for his performance. The IRC series is enormously tight this year, which makes the whole competition even more attractive. This weekend has showed again that private teams can compete with factory ones, which certainly is an aspect that increases the popularity of this rally category and contributes to the success of our customer programme“.
Jan Kopecký: “This has truly been a difficult rally, full of unexpected changes. It was basically impossible for us to “link” the bends smoothly in the first runs, especially because it was our first appearance here – knowing the stages well is simply a very important factor. I wish to thank to Alberto Hevia for providing us with valuable advice on the pitfalls and dangers of the course. We are looking forward to San Remo; it looks like the IRC series will be pretty tight until the end“.
Source text: Škoda Auto a. s.
Photo: Škoda Auto a. s.