The Skoda Motorsport World Rally team faces its biggest challenge to date as it begins the 2002 World Rally Championship season - the fourth season of competition for the Skoda Octavia WRC. Not only will the team be competing in all 14 WRC events, but at every rally it will line up with no fewer than three cars.

Two all new permanent crews, comprising of Swedes Kenneth Eriksson/Tina Th?rner and Finns Toni Gardemeister/Paavo Lukander, will represent the major force of Skoda Motorsport in 2002, challenging in the full world rally programme. A third Octavia WRC will also be racing in all 14 events around the globe, with the car being shared equally between the crews of Roman Kresta/Jan Tomanek and Stig Blomqvist/Ana Goni. In addition, there will be a fourth factory supported Octavia WRC at selected events, with the car being driven by reigning Group N champions Gabriel Pozzo/Daniel Stillo of Argentina.

The powerful commitment from Skoda Motorsport to the 2002 season is partly due to the logical development of the Octavia WRC project and partly reflects the new point scoring system coming into effect in the new year.

From January, Skoda Motorsport as any other team will be able to nominate three cars to score points in the Manufacturers' Championship instead of the current two, with the points being allocated to the two best scoring Octavia WRC's. A strong entry comprising of three cars will be essential to increase the chances of manufacturers gaining maximum points.

Skoda Motorsport team principal Pavel Janeba is more than aware of how difficult the forthcoming season will be. He said: "Next season will be much more demanding from a logistics point of view. We have never contested in 14 events and we have never entered more than three cars.

"However, I feel we are already mature enough to handle this challenge. The first objective I see is to offer up as many opportunities as possible to our new drivers to make them familiar with the car. This is essential for them to adapt the car to their driving style, so that they can contribute to further development of the Octavia WRC project.

"I am confident we have a strong line-up with an ideal mix of both very experienced drivers and young, impetuous ones. With their input, together with an increased effort from the whole team, we will be able to make another big step in our long-term rally programme."