DEFENDING WRC 2 CHAMPION JAN KOPECKY GAVE SKODA MOTORSPORT’S FABIA R5 EVO A WINNING DEBUT AT LAST WEEKEND’S RALLY CESKY KRUMLOV IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC.Driving Škoda’s latest rally weapon, which includes engine performance upgrades, a strengthened bodyshell, improved roll cage and steering, Kopecký was on unstoppable form as he clinched his 46th Czech championship win.

Fastest from the start, the event wasn’t entirely straightforward after he landed a 30-second penalty following a misunderstanding at a fourth-stage chicane.

Kopecký was back into the lead two stages later and then dominated five of Saturday’s seven all-asphalt speed tests.

At times the Fabia R5 evo was half a second per kilometre quicker than its nearest rival, but Kopecký warned there’s more speed to come at next week’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal. Both he and Kalle Rovanperä will drive the new car at the gravel road WRC 2 encounter.

Kopecký said: “I have to thank the whole team for providing me such a great car. We did not unleash the full potential of the Škoda Fabia R5 evo yet. But I can promise all Škoda customers, they will have a lot of fun and success with the upgraded Fabia R5.

“Now, I am really looking forward to the car’s FIA World Rally Championship debut at the upcoming Rally Portugal.”

Kopecký provided a similarly impressive debut to the R5 evo’s predecessor, when he drove the original Fabia R5 to victory on the 2015 Rally Šumava Klatovy.