As many other racing series, the world of rallying as well was heavily affected by the fight against the spread of COVID-19. While in some countries national championship series had to be suspended, the FIA World Rally Championship 2020 managed to run seven rounds and the FIA European Rally Championship took place as well. Wherever rallying activities were possible, ŠKODA customers could rely on the support from the ŠKODA Motorsport headquarter in Mladá Boleslav. Outstanding among the 14 international, regional and national titles achieved in 2020, Team Toksport WRT managed to win the WRC2 Team Championship of the FIA World Rally Championship 2020.
During the 2020 season, the focus of ŠKODA Motorsport more than ever was on supporting customers and private teams. For example, former factory driver Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) made a welcome return to the world of rallying. Driving a privately entered ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, he won the Rally Hungary, penultimate round of the FIA European Rally championship, and added victory in WRC3 category at ACI Rally Monza, final round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Pontus Tidemand (SWE) missed his second WRC2 title after 2017 with the small margin of only four points. Thanks to three category victories, the Swede nevertheless helped Team Toksport WRT to win the WRC2 Team Championship of the FIA World Rally Championship 2020.
In WRC3, the FIA World Rally Championship category reserved for private crews, Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak from Poland added one victory and several good results to their scoring board, finishing the championship in third place ahead of ŠKODA Motorsport supported Oliver Solberg (SWE) and co-driver Aaron Johnston (IRL), who showed a steady learning curve throughout the 2020 season. Among the 14 titles and trophies, ŠKODA customers won in 2020, one success is a historical landmark for the Czech brand: Barry McKenna and James Fulton from Ireland won the ARA National Championship Trophy in the USA, the first ever such title for the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo.
In some countries, the national championship was so heavily affected by the fight against the spread of the coronavirus, that the respective titles were not officially awarded.
Still, the ŠKODA FABIA, in Rally2 and Rally2 evo version, proves to be the most successful rally car of its category. So far, 372 rally FABIA have been sold to customers around the world, who won 1,255 rallies and achieved 2,948 podium positions.
Mr. Hrabánek, 2020 was really a challenging year, what is your summary?
Michal Hrabánek: The first lockdown this year, caused by the fight against COVID-19/coronavirus, forced us into a break. Nevertheless – even during the shutdown – we did not suspend the ordering process for ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo cars and spare parts. Deliveries did not stop at any time; we were sending parts out of our stock even to South America. The communication to our customers was and is constantly ongoing as well.
How much did this situation affect the world of rallying?
Michal Hrabánek: The COVID-19/corona crisis already has a huge effect on our private and professional lives. It is affecting motorsports as well, especially concerning calendars, budgets and sponsoring activities. On the other hand, until today we sold 46 cars in 2020, which totals to 372 ŠKODA FABIA sold to customers around the world. At the moment, roughly more than 1,000 Rally2 cars of all brands exist around the world. This impressive number shows crystal clear, that this category offers a great value for money – what is even more important in challenging economic times.
Why did you choose to switch from an official manufacturer involvement in the FIA World Rally Championship to a strategy of supporting private drivers?
Michal Hrabánek: The progress of the 2020 season proves that we are right. We decided to focus on customer teams and to strengthen the cooperation with them by offering even better services. In 2021, we will continue with this strategy. Congratulations to all private ŠKODA teams around the world. Their success shows, our new customer strategy paid off.
FIA World Rally Championship/WRC 2 Teams Championship:
FIA North American and Central American Rally Championship (NACAM):
Ricardo Triviño/Marc Martí (MEX/ESP)
Bulgaria: Miroslav Angelov/Georgi Gadzhev (BGR/BGR)
Finland: Teemu Asunmaa/Jani Salo (FIN/FIN)
Greece: Ionannis Papadimitrou/Nikolaos Petropoulos and Giorgos Polizois (GRC/GRC)
Lithuania: Vaidotas Žala/Andris Mālnieks (LTU/LVA)
Mexico: Ricardo Triviño/Marc Martí (MEX/ESP)
Namibia: Allan Martin/Maretha Olivier (NAM/NAM)
Norway: Anders Grøndal/Marius Fuglerud (NOR/NOR)
Portugal: Armindo Araújo/Luís Ramalho (PRT/PRT)
Romania: Simone Tempestini/Sergiu Itu (ITA/ROM)
Russia: Vasiliy Gryazin/Yaroslav Fedorov and Dmitry Lebedik (RUS/RUS)
Slovakia: Grzegorz Grzyb/ Michał Poradzisz (POL/POL)
USA: Barry McKenna/James Fulton (IRL/IRL)