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GP Week : Issue 25
Fabulous Fabias F As the head of Skoda Motorsport, Michal Hrabanek is leading the marques rallying resurgence, through its Super 2000 program. He spoke to MARTIN HOLMES INALLY, Skoda Motorsport is emerging from the shadows after being absent from the international rally scene for a couple of years. After the end of the Fabia World Rally Car program, the Fabia Super 2000 has been developed continuing a sporting tradition of the Czech company that has lasted for more than 100 years. Michal Hrabanek was promoted to the position of the head of Skoda Motorsport in April 2007, an important development in the activities of the company being again a Czech national, taking over from German manager Martin Muhlmeier. The idea to start the Super 2000 project began in the autumn of 2006, as a way to continue Skoda’s tradition of international motorsport. Hrabanek explains: “The WRC programme was too expensive for us, we did not have a very good experience at that level and for the amount of money we spent on the World Rally Car the benefit was low. “Super 2000 offers an interesting alternative for us. We presented a show car at the Geneva Motor Show in early 2007, indicating what such a car could look like externally, but internally it was not prepared for competition at all. The reaction of potential customers for the car was very encouraging. The timing was important, because at the same moment Peugeot started their Super 2000 program. We decided to go ahead.” The international motorsport operation at Mlada Boleslav 42 stopped official competition at the end of 2005. “For 2006 we decided to support private teams, including Jan Kopecky, who entered world championship rallies with our old factory team cars, and First Motorsport in Belgium, who had plans to run Francois Duval and the Red Bull team in Austria who were going to run Fabia WRCs in the world championship. “By stopping direct competition activity in Mlada Boleslav we were able to proceed with the Super 2000 work and use the money we saved for the development of this new car. We also wanted to work with one driver so we decided to work directly with Jan Kopecky from the start of 2007. “The object of the Super 2000 program is to supply cars for private teams to run, particularly when we are in co- operation with Skoda national importers. It is possible some of these teams will want to compete in the Production Car World Rally Championship, and it is very useful that they will also be able to use these cars on national championship events, at lower levels, everywhere.” GPWEEK: Will the company therefore be active in the IRC? HRABANEK: There has now been two years experience of the IRC and the development of the IRC is very promising. The IRC and the Super 2000 movement in general help each other. It is not only a good formula of second level international championship, but the IRC is also a good show. The sporting level of IRC is very good, the gaps between drivers are very small. I think that at this moment IRC can be much more interesting than the WRC and it can be more attractive to rally fans. Rally sport is not the same as Formula 1, it is more of an outdoor activity, and I think Super 2000 is more attractive at the level of ordinary people. For spectators at IRC events it is attractive for them to see the same cars as are used at national level events, not cars specially made for a special formula. World Rally Cars are excellent but people do not have the same chance to travel to World Championship events and