Having withdrawn from the World Rally Championship as a works outfit at the end of 2005, Skoda has continued to work towards a return to the stages after starting testing of the first Fabia S2000 prototype.

Designed to comply with the new Super 2000 regulations, the new car is based on the latest generation of the popular Fabia model and comes with a two-litre atmospheric four-cylinder engine, six speed sequential gearbox and four-wheel drive.

"The history of over hundred years of involvement in motorsport is unique, and we are proud to be able to continue the success story with the Fabia Super 2000," head of corporate communications Martin Lauer said. "We believe that the vehicle will become a successful part of this tradition, because car racing is popular all over the world and offers great opportunities to promote our products."

Skoda will become the latest manufacturer to add an S2000 rally car to its portfolio, with the likes of Peugeot, Arbarth, Honda and Toyota all currently being represented on rally stages at both national and international level.

However, despite testing getting underway, it remains to be seen when the Fabia will be seen in competition for the first time.

"We are glad to have started testing the Fabia Super 2000," Dr Eckhard Scholz, Skoda Auto BOD member responsible for technological development, said. "This year we are planning to optimise and certify the vehicle so that we can use it on both national and international levels.

"When exactly will the vehicle be released for competition use will depend on the achieved progress, relevant test results and the final certification. Then we are also planning to offer the vehicle to private teams. Based on a customer service arrangement, further development work on the vehicle will be done in close co-operation with our importers worldwide."