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Skoda Manufacturer Profile & Rally History



Skoda Home Country: Czech Republic



Skoda may be always regarded as the poor team of the WRC and remembering where they come from and what their background is, this may be right. But for the same reason, the pure fact that they are here, and not only that, but that they are actually regular points finishers, is the more a testimony of their strong enthusiasm and character. There certainly is no shortage of both, enthusiasm and character as Skodas motorsport history started in 1901, over 100 years ago. And although they were into motorbike races at first, car rallies have been part of their activity nearly since the beginning.



Nowadays still everybody seems to remember Skoda taking part in rallies with little RWD rear engined cars and good for respectable class wins. But in fact in the 1960s the Skoda 1000MB and 1100MB were not that far off the norm, nor was another rear engined car of that time, called the Octavia! In fact from their layout there were similarities between the Skodas and i.e. the famous R8 Gordini. Further, the Skodas were certainly sophisticated cars compared to what some of the opposition came up with, just remember the rear engined NSU Prinz or the 2-stroke engined DKW and Wartborg at least Skoda had proper engines. During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s Skoda seemed to struggle keeping up with the way modern technology went, which couldnt be helped for the situation the CZ found themselves in, but in that situation they did more than most of even todays big firms could have ever coped with. In the 1980s Skodas had a 1.3 litre rear engine which looked antique, but you would reconsider such judgement quickly at the finish line as Skodas never seemed to break down and they often managed to get in or at least close to the top10 overall, even in group B days. It is not without reason the Czecks are regarded as some of the most eager engineers there are. Go to central European touring car teams and you will be surprised how many of them have already worked with Czeck engineers and mechanics and give them the best references you could imagine. Skoda surely had their fans as well, high profile fans at that and not only within the CZ. So was i.e. Norwegian John Haugland an absolute top star driver talent at the time, but he somehow refused to compete in anything else but a Skoda. To the day John Haugland has a reknown ice driving school and to the day he is a loyal admirer of Skoda.



In the 1990s the situation for Skoda and their country changed dramatically. Of course you cant expect miracles overnight. This as well has good aspects however, since Volkswagen bought themselves into Skoda but this did not make Skoda give up their unique character in any big way. So Skoda still rallied 1.3 litre cars and soon 1.5 and 1.6, but by now they were FWD, they were of a modern layout, but they did in no way lose their sturdiness and efficiency. In 1994 Skoda still competed with the Favorit 136L and amazingly with it won the 2 Litre World Cup. One highlight that just seems typical of Skoda was the RAC Rally 1996. This was no full WRC event that year, but nevertheless Stig Blomqvist managed to come 3rd overall(!) on that event with a little Skoda Felicia 1600 Kit Car!



When in 1997 Skoda then moved on to an Octavia 2000 Kit Car, this car did not seem to fit into the frame. Not that it was a bad car, it just was rather big too big for an F2 car and it seemed strange that out of all companies it was the traditional giant killer Skoda to come out with a car generally considered too big. It wasnt the biggest success, though. But by 1999 Skoda came with a proper WRCar. This was incredible, only 10 years earlier nobody would probably have dreamed of a Skoda A8 or WRCar. Now it was there in the shape of the big Octavia again. The Octavia may not have won a WRC rally, but Skoda certainly has settled in well and the Octavia WRC has scored podiums, which i.e. Hyundai never managed! It speaks volumes that even many of the opposition regard Skodas engine as one of the strongest there is, while the Octavias main downfall seems to have been the transmission which ironically is an old Subaru system purchased through Prodrive. Now we have the much more conveniently sized and again more modern Fabia WRC and things turn ever more exciting, not only for Skoda themselves but quite likely even too exciting for some of Skodas competition! Or this could have been, it could be said that the Fabia could have impressed more in the few events it did in 2003, however a change in the rules that made the 2004 season far more expensive sadly forced Skoda out of competing a full season.



COLOURS & TYRES:



On the old rear engined cars Skoda was often having a distinct white and light blue with a little red, but since the Favorit they use a combination of mainly white and a strong green that easily identifies them and with the Fabia add black to that. In the rear engine days Skoda had no real tyre contract most of the time, but often used Dunlop or Michelin. Since the Favorit they have always been on Michelin.



REGISTRATIONS:



Czech reg plates are amongst the more difficult ones to identify and trace. See our general registration guide as to why this is. Skoda is based in Mlada Boleslav, therefore the 3-letter-block of the reg plates would start with MB. However this system has changed in 2003.




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