While Skoda will miss the next round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in Brazil, driver Juho Hanninen has predicted that it won't take long for the Czech manufacturer to secure victory in the series.

Rally de Curitiba doesn't feature on Skoda's six-event schedule with the new Fabia S2000 with a return expected on the Sata Rally Acores expected to be the next outing for the car in early May.

While that event isn't yet confirmed, an entry in Portugal would come some three months after the encouraging debut for the car in Monte Carlo where Hanninen set three quickest stage times to lead the event before he suffered a puncture; later crashing out while trying to make up for lost time.

Although he admits that not competing in Brazil will give Skoda's rivals an advantage, the Finn was quick to point out that testing planned between events will give the team chance to work on the car and he said he was confident that the Fabia will be a winner before the season is over.

"Yes it has been a long break but we will do some testing before the next event and I am quite sure we will still be very quick," he said. "It's not so good that our rivals are competing in Brazil and getting experience when we are not but the testing will keep me sharp and give the team a chance to work on the car.

"Monte Carlo was a very difficult rally but we showed we could be quick and I think this will continue on gravel. Then we have some Tarmac rallies where my team-mate Jan Kopecky will be very fast so I think there will be some victories."

Skoda sporting boss Michal Hrabanek has also praised the Skoda squad for its work to date, with the team lying third in the manufacturers' standings on the back of a fourth place finish in Monte Carlo for Hanninen's team-mate Jan Kopecky.

"We entered the world of rally with the Fabia Super 2000 with no expectations because we had no comparisons with other competitors," he said. "But by working hard and having people in your team who are 100 per cent motivated and enthusiastic then you'll meet success face to face.

"Monte Carlo has shown us there is still a lot of work waiting for us in the future. But we're respecting the progress being made by our competitors and this gives us good motivation."



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