The Red Bull Škoda rally team will make its debut next weekend (5-6th March) at the Mexico Rally, the first round of the 2011 S-WRC series. Last year’s Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) champions, Juho Hänninen and Mikko Markkula, will be competing in the event in a Škoda Fabia S2000.
The Mexico Rally is considered as one of the most exciting and challenging events of the entire S-WRC series. The gravel event around Leon poses a real test of endurance for both the cars and drivers thanks to the high altitudes and high temperatures. The majority of the rally will take place in Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato, both of which offer stunning mountain backdrops and fast stretches in open valleys. The highly competitive field of drivers will have to cope with a total of 22 stages (226 miles) and more than 620 miles of transfers between stages.
Juho Hänninen underlined the importance of the team's appearance in the S-WRC series: “Our appearance is a big challenge for the whole team. We have high ambitions, as we want to be among the leaders of the field, and so the start of the season is extremely important. The competition is going to be strong, but we have prepared well. This rally will show where we stand in comparison to the other teams.” Head of the team Raimund Baumschlager adds: “The Mexico Rally is not going to be an easy ride, but we are prepared for that. We have top-class resources, state-of-the-art technology and - thanks to the massive support we are getting from the Škoda Motorsport factory team – we also have Juho Hänninen, one of the best drivers on gravel. I believe that our position in the final rankings will be high“.
Hänninen and Markkula’s Red Bull Škoda team colleagues, Hermann Gassner jr and co-driver Katharina Wüstenhagen, are set to make their debut at the following S-WRC event in Jordan.
Hermann Gassner jr.: “We are going to do more testing to make good use of the time remaining until the Jordan Rally – after all, the car is new to me. The appearance in S-WRC is a big step forward, it is the first time we will be part of an international series. The goal is to gain as much experience as possible and gradually climb up to the top of the field“.
The current plans are for the Red Bull Škoda team to participate in events at Sardinia, Greece, Finland, Germany, France and Spain.