Skoda is gearing up for its highly-anticipated World Rally Championship return after a two-year absence at this weekend's at Rally Portugal.

Two Skoda Fabia R5 machines are set to enter the WRC2 category, with European Rally Champion Esapekka Lappi and Junior World Rally Champion Pontus Tidemand at the wheel of each car.

The Czech Republic manufacturer is confident of a strong return to rallying after enjoying a successful run in the opening round of the Czech Rally Championship last month.

European champion Lappi says he cannot wait to get going in Portugal after an extensive testing programme getting the Fabia R5 up to a competitive level.

"After months of preparation the waiting is finally over," Lappi said. "We are hungry for our first race with the Fabia R5. For that to come in the World Championship is fantastic. The start will be a particularly emotional moment for all involved."

Skoda's motorsport director Michal Hrabanek adds although he is delighted to see the manufacturer make its competitive return to WRC, Rally Portugal will be seen as another test for the Fabia R5 in challenging conditions.

"The debut in the WRC is the next highlight for the new Fabia R5," he explained. "The entire team is really looking forward to the first outing. The World Championship is a special challenge for us. Our priority in Portugal is to test the Fabia R5 under the demanding WRC conditions. The rally will really put the car and the team through its paces."

Skoda's recent history at Rally Portugal should fill the team with confidence as Lappi won the WRC2 category the last time the manufacturer competed in Portugal in 2013.



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