After the ŠKODA Motorsport factory team had withdrawn from the highest class of international rallying, the WRC, it was clear that the rally models from Mladá Boleslav were fully competitive in categories for production-based cars. Continuing the brand’s tradition, they had won numerous rallies and titles around the world in previous years thanks to their long-term commitment to motorsport.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) laid down clear regulations for the newly established Super 2000 Rally (S2000) class: permanent four-wheel drive, naturally aspirated two-litre engine and minimal electronics. This meant some major changes had to be made compared to the technologically advanced ŠKODA FABIA WRC predecessor with its turbocharged engine. Nevertheless, the ŠKODA FABIA S2000 also had the ideal set-up to compete on the international rally tracks; it had a lower weight and an output of 280 hp – just twenty horsepower less than its successful predecessor.
The S2000 category was mainly geared towards customer sport. At the same time, it offered car manufacturers the opportunity to develop vehicles that were significantly cheaper to run. All the WRC rounds of the new Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) were shown on television in the brand’s key markets, which guaranteed the necessary media coverage and added to the appeal of getting involved. ŠKODA Motorsport pursued two goals through the IRC project: from a sporting perspective, they wanted to take part in selected IRC rallies, while at the same time promoting customer racing by selling the FABIA S2000 to private teams.
ŠKODA Motorsport debuted the new race car at the 2009 Monte Carlo Rally. The FABIA S2000 caused a stir on the international rally scene straight off the bat with strong results and major successes, including Juho Hänninen and Mikko Markkula’s victory at the Rally Russia in July. Jan Kopecký and Petr Starý’s two wins at the Barum Rally and the Rally Costa Brava also have a firm place in ŠKODA Motorsport’s history. In their very first season, Kopecký and Starý drove to an excellent second place in the IRC championship. ŠKODA also achieved a strong second place in the manufacturers’ championship – despite the team deliberately not taking part in the complete series.
On the heels of these successes came many more. In 2010, ŠKODA won the IRC Series and Juho Hänninen took the drivers’ championship ahead of Jan Kopecký. Despite strong competition, ŠKODA also secured the brand championship in the following two years with Andreas Mikkelsen at the wheel. In 2011 Juho Hänninen & Mikko Markkula have won the first-ever World Championship title in SWRC for ŠKODA. From 2013, the car competed in the European Rally Championship, where it dominated for three years. The ŠKODA FABIA S2000’s extremely successful career culminated in Jan Kopecký and Dresler’s victory in the 2014 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. The model went on to take further victories in national championships. The ŠKODA FABIA S2000 won a total of 50 national and international titles worldwide between 2009 and 2014.
The FABIA S2000 signalled ŠKODA’s return to the top of the international rally scene. This marked the beginning of a motorsport success story, to which its successors have since added some of the most successful chapters in the history of ŠKODA Motorsport