Mladá Boleslav - In 1996, ŠKODA presented the first generation of the modern OCTAVIA. With it, the Czech automobile manufacturer took another important step after the FELICIA of 1994 and subsequently established today's bestseller as a permanent fixture in the compact segment. With the OCTAVIA WRC, ŠKODA also underscored its high ambitions with the OCTAVIA in international rallying. In addition to the complete selection of images for this press release on the media portal skoda-media.de, there is also a 32-page brochure on various topics from 120 years of ŠKODA Motorsport. After the great success of the ŠKODA FAVORIT in the World Cup for vehicles with a powered axle, naturally aspirated engine and a displacement of less than two liters (so-called F2 class) and numerous victories for the ŠKODA FELICIA Kit Car, the ŠKODA Motorsport works team also wanted to be in the top class of the international rally sport.
Skoda Octavia WRC (1999)
So the first generation of the modern ŠKODA OCTAVIA came in 1996 and the decision of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) to introduce the WRC (World Rally Car) category in 1997 was just the right time. Unlike before in Group A, manufacturers who did not build special, charged vehicles with all-wheel drive were now also able to participate. For a successful homologation it was no longer necessary to issue a limited street version of the respective vehicle.
It was enough if the racing car was based on a mass-produced model. The ŠKODA Motorsport team faced numerous challenges when setting up the OCTAVIA WRC. Only when developing the ŠKODA OCTAVIA Kit Car with front-wheel drive did they gain experience with modifications to the new compact model. Under these circumstances, it turned out to be a great advantage for the team to be able to use components from the corporate shelves and to be able to fall back on proven, high-quality components when assembling the racing car.
300 hp in the Škoda Octavia WRC
The supercharged two-liter engine with five-valve technology was used in the ŠKODA OCTAVIA WRC. It developed 221 kW (300 hp), the torque at 3.250 rpm was initially 500 Nm, later up to 600 Nm. The empty weight of the car was 1.230 kilograms and thus corresponded to the minimum value stipulated in the regulations. In conjunction with all-wheel drive, the OCTAVIA WRC was the most dynamic racing car in ŠKODA's motorsport history to date. In the course of 1998, the technicians began to test the first copies, although they had to contend with the scheduling of the first official use of the new car in the World Rally Championship.
The number one among the drivers of the new ŠKODA OCTAVIA WRC was the experienced German driver Armin Schwarz, who was considered the best test driver on the rally scene at the time. His experience and intuition proved to be crucial in setting up the OCTAVIA WRC. The second driver was one of the two successful Czech drivers Pavel Sibera or Emil Triner, depending on the surface on which the respective rally was held.
The ŠKODA OCTAVIA WRC made its debut in the 1999 season at the legendary Monte Carlo Rally. The automobile manufacturer used the first season in particular to further adjust the vehicle's setup and to gain initial experience. At the last race of the season, the famous British RAC rally, the Belgian Bruno Thiry almost took a place on the podium and finished fourth in the overall standings. Within just one season, the OCTAVIA WRC developed from an absolute newcomer in the field to a fully competitive challenger.
firm place in the history of ŠKODA Motorsport
Over the years, several drivers from among the international rally elite have driven the ŠKODA OCTAVIA WRC. In addition to Armin Schwarz and the Czech stars Pavel Sibera and Emil Triner, this also included Bruno Thiry, Luis Climent, Roman Kresta, Jan Kopecký, Gabriel Pozzo, Toni Gardemeister, Kenneth Eriksson, Didier Auriol, Matthias Kahle and Stig Blomqvist.
The ŠKODA OCTAVIA WRC has a firm place in the history of ŠKODA Motorsport and shaped the image of the brand: It achieved victories in special stages, finished on the podium (Armin Schwarz, 3rd place in the overall ranking of the Safari Rally 2001) and demonstrated its reliability the international rally slopes have been proven many times over. In doing so, he strengthened the position of ŠKODA Motorsport on the race tracks of the World Cup and prepared the ground for the manufacturer's next racing car in the WRC as the highest class of rally sport.
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Photo credit: Škoda
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