Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke says positive gains continue to be made with Skoda Motorsport’s soon-to-be-launched all-new Fabia Rally2 car.
Since last summer, the five-time World Rally Championship event winner has been supporting the Czech manufacturer with the supermini’s test and development programme alongside Andreas Mikkelsen and reigning Finnish rally champion, Emil Lindholm.
Sitting on an entirely different chassis that underpins the current generation Fabia road car, the competition version is 48mm wider than its predecessor, with this reportedly improving its ride, handling and balance.
Skoda Motorsport engineers made packaging a priority this time around, according to project leader Jan Krasula, and have taken steps such as repositioning the fuel tank for weight distribution purposes.
“It’s a completely new car,” said Meeke of a car that generates nearly twice as much downforce as before due to its aerodynamic properties, “and step-by-step, in every area, I think we can make an improvement.”
Performance gains have also been a cornerstone of the latest Fabia rally car and those boxes have been ticked by introducing a redesigned gearbox, clutch and flywheel that guarantees less inertia. These are in addition to a more efficient intercooler that has outgrown the engine bay of the current Fabia, said Krasula.
Someone who knows the Fabia intimately is Mikkelsen. He clinched the WRC2 drivers’ title and the FIA European Rally Championship crown at the wheel of a Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo last year.
“The balance of the car is really, really nice,” said the Norwegian, “and that gives me a lot of confidence to push over jumps. I already had a very good feeling with the new generation car on asphalt and gravel.”
In terms of the expectations being placed on the new Fabia, the head of Skoda Motorsport is clear. “The current Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo is the most successful car in its category, winning events all over the world again during the ongoing 2022 season,” said Michal Hrabanek.
“With the new generation Rally2 variant of the Skoda Fabia, we target to defend this position in the future.”