Skoda Rally: Star-struck

Time 6:56 am, June 23, 2012

FRESH from our #CitiTour feature a few weeks ago, Car Dealer is on the road with Skoda once again.

But this time it’s far more traditional and involves a hobby that’s very close to the Czech brand’s heart – motorsport.

While the city car segment is new ground for Skoda, when it comes to rallying, there’s few manufacturers with such a long interest in getting muddy.

They’ve been in it for decades competing with a variety of different machinery such as the boxy rear-engined traditional Skodas, through to more recent Octavia WRCs.

Now their current rallying steed is the Fabia S2000 – and it’s doing a fine job in the IRC series earning Skoda some good publicity and adding force to their ever-developing brand perceptions.

But enough of the history lesson: Car Dealer has joined Skoda UK Motorsport to see how well they’re doing this season. We’re in Belgium at the Ypres Rally round and so far it’s been jolly fun.

The day began with a crack-of-dawn blast to Dover to get to the ‘Chunnel’ in one of Skoda’s Octavia vRS estates. It’s a motor Car Dealer has had much fun with in the past and our Candy White car was soon joined by Car Dealer’s long-term Skoda Yeti (in Postman Pat red), and a blue Octavia vRS.

Once in France it was pedal to the metal to get to the first stage of the rally in nearby Belgium. Running in patriotic red, white and blue our rapid convoy cut a dash in France and drew some rather alarming glances.

Once in Belgium it was a race to get to our first stage. Think we had a swanky grandstand to cheer on Skoda UK’s Fabia, do you?

We joined the several hundred other Belgium rally fans in a variety of corn, cabbage and carrot fields to cheer on Andreas Mikkelsen – Skoda UK’s driver who’s currently topping the championship table.

But thanks to a camera that decided to go into shut-down mode, I took a few pictures on my phone. Here is a high-quality shot of yesterday’s action…

And here is a press photo so you really know what I am talking about.

More stages were attended and Mikkelsen, who was sat in second behind Skoda Belgium’s runner, managed to slash a nine second gap to two seconds before crashing at a road junction.

In the service area, he told an enthralled Car Dealer staff writer how he locked up a brake and went off the road.

I’m told this as I don’t seem to remember – I, like the majority of people who meet Mikkelsen for the first time, are bowled over by his charm. All of this, naturally, renders people unable to speak. That’s my excuse.

Today it’s another early start and it’s time to see whether Mikkelsen can claw back a whole minute he’s lost.

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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