Škoda Motorsport has officially unveiled its new World Rally Championship challenger, the Fabia RS Rally2, at a launch event from its Mlada Boleslav headquarters on Tuesday evening.
The car, which replaces the Fabia Rally2 evo, is based on the new fourth generation Fabia but is heavily revised from the machine Andreas Mikkelsen used to win last year’s WRC2 title.
Headline changes include a brand-new engine – based on a two-liter motor used in Škoda’s road-going RS models – which is said to produce 289bhp and 430Nm of torque.
Compared to Škoda’s old rally engine, the new unit features redesigned intake and exhaust ports, optimized pistons and combustion chambers, variable valve timing and a redesigned lubrication system.
Handling is also said to be improved with better weight distribution and a more stable rear thanks to the wider body and longer wheelbase. A larger intercooler has also been fitted while the suspension has been redesigned with a longer stroke in the dampers and stiffer struts.
The Fabia RS Rally2 has undergone an extensive testing program on all three surfaces – asphalt, gravel and snow – all over Europe over the past 12 months in locations such as the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Croatia, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Finland.
Mikkelsen – who competes for the factory-supported Toksport team – and Kris Meeke have been among the chief test drivers as well as Emil Lindholm and Jan Kopecký.
Michal Hrabánek, Head of Škoda Motorsport, said the aim of the new build was to “improve the most successful rally car in the world”.
“Standing still means going backwards, and this is especially true in motorsport,” he explained.
“That’s why, in developing the new Fabia RS Rally2, we applied the experience we gained from the predecessor model and optimised every detail.
“The aim was to improve the most successful rally car in the world. I’m proud of the entire Škoda Motorsport team who have pursued this goal with great dedication.
“I would also like to thank our colleagues in series development; the fourth-generation Fabia provided us with a perfect basis for the Fabia RS Rally2.”
Škoda has long been the benchmark in the R5/Rally2 class ever since the original Fabia R5 was launched in 2015.
Nasser Al-Attiyah, Esapekka Lappi, Pontus Tidemand, Jan Kopecký, Kalle Rovanperä, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Mikkelsen all claimed either the WRC2 or WRC2 Pro titles with a Fabia – whether it be in R5 or Rally2 evo guise.
The new Fabia RS Rally2 is expected to debut in the second half of the WRC season.