Skoda's Juho Hanninen has hailed the 'great potential' of the Fabia Super 2000 following its debut performance on the Rallye Monte Carlo last weekend, the opening round in the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

Hanninen led the event convincingly until the final stage on day two, when he picked up a puncture and slipped back to third. The Finn then tried to put in a push on the Friday, but unfortunately crashed out in the first corner on the very first stage.

Speaking post-event, he added that while there is still a lot of work to do, the results will definitely come.

"Everything was going my way until Friday morning. I was surprised how fast I was able to go - the technicians did an excellent job and the car was working perfectly," he reflected. "Our tyre choices were very good, too, mainly thanks to my 'on-track spies'.

"I am sorry to have been too fast on Friday - I simply pushed it too hard as I wanted to make up for my one-minute loss. It's a pity, as the entire team has done a fantastic job here.

"I believe that the car's future results though will be very good and that this event has shown its great potential. However, a lot of hard work is still ahead of us."

Jan Kopecky meanwhile recovered to finish fourth, after intermittent power steering problems slowed him on the opening test on day one.

"The Fabia Super 2000 has shown how fast it is, and it's apparent that the direction we have set is good," he stated.

"All the kilometres done in last year's tests are an important factor behind this success. I wish to thank the whole team and the ?koda company for helping us move this project ahead, as well as the Czech fans along the roads for supporting us loudly."

Michal Hrab?nek, Head of ?koda Motorsport, meanwhile reiterated that the plan to take in another five IRC events this year remains unchanged.

"In the first place, we are glad to have successfully completed this important stage of our vehicle development project and opened the door to a new one. The Fabia Super 2000 project is running on two complementary levels, racing and sales," he summed-up.

"We have certainly made a competitive car that is prepared to compete with the best in its class, and I also consider the team's performance at this year's Monte Carlo Rally good.

"I daresay we have shown our strength, but there's still a lot of work ahead of us and we have to work as hard and efficiently as we have been working so far and never lose respect for our competitors.

"I wish to thank all of the team members - the crews, mechanics, engineers and other people involved for excellent teamwork, and believe that this Monte Carlo premiere will motivate all of them to continue working hard. I also believe that we have done a great job in terms of promoting the ?koda brand. Our future rallying agenda will depend on detailed analysis of the Monte Carlo Rally performance, but our plan to take part in a further five events of the 2009 IRC series remains unchanged for the time being."



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