Skoda will have a semi-official presence in the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship next season, it has been confirmed.
It follows the announcement that the Czech manufacturer has become part of the Red Bull Skoda team. Under the deal the squad will be a 'joint effort', with Skoda Motorsport assisting Baumschlager Rally Racing and Red Bull.
2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Juho Hanninen and German youngster Hermann Gassner Jr. have been signed to compete for the outfit.
It is not clear at this stage how this will affect Hanninen's defence of his IRC crown. Indeed while Skoda has already announced that the Finn will do the Rallye Monte Carlo, the opening round in the 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge, its full IRC programme for next year won't be revealed until January. A spokesperson for Skoda told Crash.net
that at the moment details about its 2011 IRC participation are 'still under discussion'.
Skoda boss, Michal Hrabánek, is however, delighted with the deal to link up with Red Bull and BRR for the SWRC.
“We are really pleased that we can contribute to further growth of the Fabia Super 2000 project as part of Red Bull and BRR,” he stated. “Red Bull is one of the strongest possible partners on today's sports scene. The BRR team led by Raimund Baumschlager, a nine-times Austrian Rally Champion and the buyer of the first Fabia Super 2000 vehicle we sold, is a guarantee of a highly professional approach and top-class background.“
Baumschlager is convinced that Hanninen and Gassner Jr. can both do well in the SWRC and added that at the moment the Red Bull Skoda team will take in around seven events.
“First of all, I wish to thank Skoda Motorsport and also Red Bull, our partner, for their support. We have only the best experience of co-operating with them, and they are both leaders in what they do,” he continued.
“Juho has been one of the top drivers over the last few years, I remember him when he used to appear in PWRC. He was our toughest competitor in the battle for the championship title. At the same time, I know him as an excellent test driver and a great chap, too. I am sure that with him around we can think of the highest ranks.
“Hermann Gassner [meanwhile] has a great opportunity to grow beside Juho and learn from him, in both tests and the rallies. We are planning to appear in about seven Championships events.”
For the record, this year the Baumschlager Rally Racing-run Red Bull Rally Team finished second in the inaugural SWRC with Patrik Sandell. Sandell scored 111 points in total in his Skoda Fabia S2000, 12 points off Xavier Pons, who took the title.