After winning all three WRC 2 titles of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), ŠKODA Motorsport will enter next season’s title race with an especially young team. Ole Christian Veiby and Juuso Nordgren, both 21 years old, as well as 17 years old Kalle Rovanperä will drive the factory team’s ŠKODA FABIA R5 alongside reigning WRC 2 Champion Pontus Tidemand (27). Furthermore, five times Czech Champion Jan Kopecký will again support ŠKODA Motorsport.
“After prematurely winning all three WRC 2 titles of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship, we immediately looked for young talented drivers and started to test them already before season’s end. This Young Drivers Program of ours was launched at RallyRACC Catalunya – Rallye de España and came to conclusion at Wales Rally GB. Now we are looking forward to our 2018 World Rally Championship campaign with the youngest driver line up we ever had in our history. 21 years old Ole Christian Veiby and Juuso Nordgren already debuted in our factory team. ŠKODA Motorsport’s newest recruit is 17 years old Kalle Rovanperä. On selected world championship rounds we will also enter Pontus Tidemand, who took the WRC 2 drivers title in 2017 with ŠKODA. Last but not least I am happy to welcome Jan Kopecký again to our team,” explains ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek.
In 2017 Ole Christian Veiby and co-driver Stig Rune Skjaermoen (31) from Norway were nominated by ŠKODA Motorsport to drive for factory supported team MRF ŠKODA in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC). They paid back all the trust by winning two events and finishing runner-up overall. On World Rally Championship level, they scored remarkable results as well. Driving a private Printsport entered ŠKODA FABIA R5 they won the WRC 2 category at Rally Poland, defeating even ŠKODA Motorsport’s eventual WRC 2 title winner Pontus Tidemand. They finished second in WRC 2 in Italy and third in RC2 class at RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España, where they were not nominated to score in WRC 2. At Wales Rally GB in September they joined the official team of ŠKODA Motorsport for the first time.
Juuso Nordgren (21) was born in Karkkila, a village in the northwest of Helsinki where also rally legend Markku Alén comes from. In 2015, Nordgren became Finnish Junior Champion and was awarded “Future Rally Star of Finland 2016”. During Rally Finland 2017 he achieved four fastest times in his private entered ŠKODA FABIA R5. Later, at RallyRACC Catalunya – Rallye de España, he and co-driver Tapio Suominen (36) were part of ŠKODA’s factory team for the first time, finishing fourth in WRC 2. At Wales Rally GB they achieved fifth position.
Kalle Rovanperä (17) is the youngest driver ever to win a WRC 2 event (Australia 2017). He won the Latvian Rally Championship twice (2016, 2017) and is one of the most promising talents in the world of rallying. His father Harri has been a world class rally driver himself, achieving one WRC win. Due to the fact that Kalle Rovanperä will turn 18 not before October 2018, he and co-driver Jonne Halttunen (32) until then will be entered in selected world championship rounds only in countries, were the regulations allow 17 years olds to compete in rallies.
Pontus Tidemand, who’s first international title was becoming FIA Junior World Rally Champion back in 2013, won the 2015 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) with ŠKODA. At the end of 2017 he could look back at his most successful season so far. Scoring in total five wins he together with co-driver Jonas Andersson (40) took the title of the FIA World Rally Championship’s WRC 2 category. At the same time his results were the corner stone for ŠKODA Motorsport winning the WRC 2 manufacturers title.
Also Jan Kopecký (35) plays an important role in ŠKODA Motorsport’s plans for 2018. His goal will not only be to defend his title as Czech Champion, which in 2017 he won for a fourth consecutive time together with co-driver Pavel Dresler (41) onboard a ŠKODA FABIA R5. Kopecký as well will support ŠKODA Motorsport’s efforts on world championship level (WRC 2).