Snow joke for Simon in the Fabia Cup
Welsh youngster Simon Hughes takes a trip into the unknown next weekend, as the 21 year old from Colwyn Bay contests the opening round of the Czech International Rally Championship and the 2005 Skoda Fabia Rallye Cup.
The British Rally Championship regular will contest the full Skoda Cup series, visiting rallies across the Czech Republic, Croatia and Slovakia en route to what he hopes will be a successful championship campaign in his MAX Racing prepared Skoda Fabia 1.4 Rallye. Hughes will be partnered by the experienced Ulsterman Glenn Patterson for the season as he bids to win the 'one make' championship, which now enters its fourth year.
Competing in the official Skoda Auto backed series will be a new experience for Hughes. After winning the Production Cup class on the final round of the British Rally Championship last season, Simon will be looking forward to eight excellent rallies this year. The Championship gets underway with the 'Mogul Sumava Rallye', based in the small Czech town of Klatovy. Often described as the Czech equivalent of the 'Monte Carlo Rally', the hilly, snow and ice covered roads are sure to pose a major test to Simon and Glenn as they make their debut in the Skoda and Michelin backed Cup.
Hughes is already leaving nothing to chance as he bids to get off to a good start on the three day rally that begins on February 18th. Simon and Glenn are shaking down their newly built Fabia on the snowy Czech roads ahead of the event and will then concentrate on the three day recce before the main event begins. Having never driven on any Czech stages before, Hughes is being realistic about his chances of success this weekend:
'From what I have seen and read so far, it sounds like we are starting the series with the most challenging rally of the entire championship. The combination of snow, ice, dry tarmac, wet tarmac or drying tarmac can play havoc with tyre choice. We have a full range of studded to slick tyres to choose from, but I get the impression that it can be a lottery at times on this event. We'll be trying to get the best and most up to date weather information as we can, and hopefully that will stand us in good stead during the rally. Our aim is to be competitive on this rally, so we'll just have to give it our best shot and see where we are.'
Whilst Hughes's task is certainly a tough one, the lack of knowledge regarding his opposition is also something that the Welsh ace will not be able to find until the first batch of stage times come in. After attending the 2004 Fabia Cup awards and meeting some of the opposition for this year, Hughes is both wary and respectful of how strong the opposition will be:
'I'm expecting the pace to be hot at the front of the field' said Simon. 'Every one make championship in the world has a mixture of good drivers, steady drivers, and the very quick drivers. I have no doubt that the Fabia Cup will offer the same levels of competition. With that in mind, we'll have to adopt a 'look and see' approach to the first event, so we can get a good idea of where the pace is in the series. The main thing for me is to gain as much experience as possible of the new roads and work on my pace note making at the same time. I'm sure the competition within the cup will be more than healthy, so I hope it will be a good battle this year'.
Further information on the 2005 Skoda Fabia Rally Cup can be found on www.fabia-cup.cz and soon on www.simon-hughes.com