M-Sport team principal Richard Millener doesn’t expect Škoda’s new Fabia RS Rally2 to ‘walk away with everything’ in this year’s World Rally Championship, despite it winning 16 of 18 stages on the Monte Carlo Rally.
Škoda’s new creation – the third iteration of the Fabia for the FIA’s R5/Rally2 regulations – debuted in November on Germany’s Lausitz Rally and won in the hands of Andreas Mikkelsen, but wasn’t seen in the WRC until January’s Monte Carlo Rally.
Reigning WRC2 champion Toksport fielded a fleet of new Fabias while some private entrants got their hands on one too, and the car won 88% of the Monte’s stages in the hands of Oliver Solberg, Nikolay Gryazin and Erik Cais.
Only Yohan Rossel’s Citroën broke the new Škoda’s streak of dominance.
M-Sport’s Fiesta Rally2 meanwhile only finished fifth in WRC2, close to two minutes down on rally winner Rossel courtesy of Adrien Fourmaux who only managed two top-three stage times in class all weekend.
Despite this apparent imbalance, Millener isn’t concerned by what he’s seen from the new Škoda.
Asked by DirtFish if it bugged him that there was so much attention on the new Škoda, Millener said: “Well… obviously a little bit because we’d love it to be a Fiesta but a good thing to say here is the technical regulations are obviously working very well.
“OK Nikolay was dominating but that’s not down to the car that’s down to him driving. If you look at the other new cars, it’s not a 1-2-3 with new Škoda.
“Oliver did a great job as well but I would say that’s more the level of driver, and when you’ve got Yohan and Stéphane [Lefebvre] able to compete in the Citroën which is an older car like the Fiesta as well, and Chris Ingram in the previous spec Škoda, it’s good to see that all the cars are still close – it’s not going to be just one running away with it.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had a new Rally2 car out and Škoda’s so dominant and have put a lot of marketing pressure into it and things, so it was always going to make the headlines. But glad to see it’s not just walking away with everything.”
The new Škoda didn’t make a winning start to WRC competition, as C3 driver Rossel successfully protested Gryazin’s initial victory on the grounds of corner cutting.
The Fabia RS Rally2 will be driven by plenty of victory favorites on next week’s Rally Sweden though, including Solberg, defending WRC2 champion Emil Lindholm and his Finnish compatriot Sami Pajari.