Since its introduction at the start of this year’s World Rally Championship, the new Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 has been regarded as WRC2’s benchmark car.
From the outside it looked a clear step up from last year’s model and it’s shown in the results as well, with both Oliver Solberg and Gus Greensmith having already picked up three WRC2 victories between them.
But while it has rightly been receiving plenty of plaudits, longtime Škoda driver Andreas Mikkelsen is yet to feel completely at home after two events in the new car.
[I’m] still not really confident in the car,” Mikkelsen explained to DirtFish after finishing third in WRC2 on Rally of Portugal.
“I don’t feel as one as I did with the old one so I’m not really in front of situations.
“I need to see how the car reacts when we come to these places on the stages and then I have to drive thereafter.
“With the old car I knew. So this we have to improve my feeling a little bit with the car so I’m at one and can foresee what is coming and be in front of the situations.”
That might sound slightly concerning given that Mikkelsen did plenty of development work on the new Fabia.
But as he quickly pointed out, it was Kris Meeke that did the majority of the development mileage. Add that with the fact that Rally of Portugal was Mikkelsen’s first WRC event in the new car and you can understand why he might not be feeling totally at home right now.
And Mikkelsen admits he needs to give the car more time.
“I think the guy who has done the most mileage is Kris. He has probably three times as much mileage than me.
“But one thing is testing, one thing is doing actual rallies, and what you feel would work in rallies is not always actually what is going to happen.
“So you need to do rallies and you need to see how the feeling is when you’re exploring stages, and this is where we need to improve a little bit.
“Some time now until Sardinia we have one test and hopefully we can improve the feeling there on the stages.”
Given its results so far this season, nobody can deny that the Fabia RS Rally2 is setting a new benchmark.
But despite that, Solberg does sympathize with Mikkelsen, pointing out that the Fabia RS Rally2 requires a very different driving style to the Fabia Rally2 evo.
“Yeah, I think we have very different cars and very different driving styles but still the feeling we have is quite similar, what we need more of,” Solberg explained.
“And we just have to try a little bit and see what we can come up with. But clearly the cars are very similar so the ground feeling will eventually be the same.
“It’s difficult to get R5 [Rally2] with everything you want of course. But yeah, it will be good to maybe try and work a little bit, try and develop something and come with something new.”
Gus Greensmith agreed. He might have been victorious in Portugal, but it wasn’t without a few problems on his RS Rally2.
However, he fully believes that Škoda will swiftly iron out the current issues with the RS Rally2.
“I think without a doubt there’s been more issues than we would have liked,” he said.
“The last 24 hours have been, should we say, rather stressful. So I’m sure they are going to look at it.
“They are an incredibly capable team. Škoda Motorsport put so much effort into this program, so I’m sure any issues will be resolved. But we did just enough to get through.”