Thursday, 30 June 2016

Anniversary of Speed: 115 Years of ŠKODA Motorsport

Did you know,the first chapter in ŠKODA’s fascinating motorsport history was written 115 years ago on a single-cylinder Laurin & Klement, motorcyclist Narcis Podsedníček finished first in the Paris-Berlin on 30 June, 1901. ŠKODA FABIA R5 is building on the success of predecessors.
Mladá Boleslav, 30 June 2016 – The cornerstone of ŠKODA’s successful involvement in motor racing was laid 115 years ago. On 30 June Narcis Podsedníček took the number-one position in the demanding race from Paris to Berlin with his Laurin & Klement motorcycle; the brand from Mladá Boleslav claimed success in their very first race.
“ŠKODA is proud of its long motorsport tradition and of the champions at the wheel and handlebars – champions like Narcis Podsedníček,” says ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek. “Since 1901, the brand from Mladá Boleslav has taken part in many races and rallies that have brought us and our fans much joy. However, there have also been some challenging moments in ŠKODA’s motorsport history that we have had to overcome. We want to effectively build on the legacy of the motorsport pioneers. Our drivers’ winning streak with the ŠKODA FABIA R5 over the last few months makes this anniversary even more special.”
Being the most experienced rider, Narcis Podsedníček (1866-1932) was selected for the Mladá Boleslav brand’s racing debut at the biggest motorsport event of the time: the Paris-Berlin race. On the single-cylinder Laurin & Klement motorcycle, Podsedníček was one of the ten drivers who competed in the category of motorcycles and motorized tricycles. Arriving at the finishing line unexpectedly early on 30 June 1901, a policeman was the only one to witness Podsedníček complete the race at 3 am. As the official time keepers were not present to record his victory, he had to settle for a ‘moral victory’ as four French riders on De Dion-Bouton tricycles took the podium. His performance, however, laid the foundation for the Laurin & Klement brand’s and later the ŠKODA brand’s future involvement in motor racing.
“Narcis Podsedníček was among the most important personalities connected to the first 30 years of Laurin & Klement’s development,” explains Andrea Frydlová, Head of the ŠKODA Museum. “At first he was involved in building a strong brand as a regional representative, later Podsedníček took over the post of production chief. He was among the first to race the Laurin & Klement motorcycles,” says Frydlová.
From 1905, Laurin & Klement automobiles began to build on the motorcycles’ success. In addition to repeat victories in mountain races and endurance competitions, the four-cylinder Laurin & Klement FCS with an output of 95 hp also set a speed record of 118.72 km/h at Brooklands, UK, in 1908.
The then new generation of ŠKODA vehicles with backbone chassis were setting the pace of automotive development in the inter-war period. In January 1936, the ŠKODA POPULAR roadster successfully completed the demanding Monte Carlo Rally; the excellent results were repeated a year later with the ŠKODA RAPID coupé. Following the Second World War, the then basic model – ŠKODA 1101 – prevailed on the circuit in Spa with Czech and foreign drivers. The vehicle even fared well in the Monte Carlo Rally and the Tour d'Europe. This was followed by many more models. In 1959 the first generation ŠKODA OCTAVIA picked up the baton.
The ŠKODA 1000 MB began a new chapter in 1964 with its rear engine and unibody construction. Its successors brought the Norwegian ŠKODA representative John Haugland considerable success. The legendary ŠKODA 130 RS won in its class among others in the Monte Carlo Rally and the Rally Acropolis (1977). In addition, the ŠKODA 130 RS took the overall victory in the manufacturers’ championship in the European Touring Car Championship (1981). Haugland’s greatest success came at the wheel of the ŠKODA 130 LR. In this context, his class victory in the fiercely competitive RAC Rally (1985 and 1986) was particularly impressive.
ŠKODA’s new motorsport era began with the ŠKODA FAVORIT hatchback in the Monte Carlo Rally. Driver team Pavel Sibera/Petr Gross took four consecutive wins with the ŠKODA FAVORIT (1991–1994) in the F2 class. As a brand, ŠKODA won the FIA Cup in the F2 class among others. The successor in the FAVORIT series was the FELICIA Kit-Car; behind the wheel Stig Blomqvist took third place overall in the RAC Rally in 1996.
Around the time the OCTAVIA Kit-Car made its debut, the brand entered vehicles in the highest WRC category in the world championships. 2001 came in third position with the OCTAVIA WRC in the hard Safari Rally. Its successor model, the FABIA WRC also performed well.
The best performance in the international and national championships, however, was from the ŠKODA FABIA SUPER 2000 – so far, the most successful model in ŠKODA’s 115-year history in motorsport. The duo Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ) achieved a historic success with the four-wheel drive from Mladá Boleslav – as the first driver team in history to win, the championship title in the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) and FIA Asia -Pacific rally Championship (APRC) for two consecutive years. Between 2009 and 2014, the ŠKODA FABIA SUPER 2000 drivers took home a total of 50 national and international titles.
In 2015 ŠKODA Motorsport celebrated four victories in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2) with their current rally car, the ŠKODA Fabia R5. The all-wheel drive vehicle, equipped with the latest technology, received approval from the International Automobile Federation FIA on 1 April 2015. In the very first season with the new ŠKODA Fabia R5, driver team Pontus Tidemand/Emil Axelsson (S/S) secured the fourth APRC championship title in a row for ŠKODA. The model also earned the team five national wins in 2015.
Call into Derek Slack Motors new showroom to see the future of SKODA at Cargo Fleet, Middlesbrough.

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