Tough tarmac test awaits for Championship leader Simon Welsh rally star Simon Hughes heads east to the Czech Republic next week, as the 22 year old from Colwyn Bay looks to make it two maximum scores in a row in the Skoda Fabia Rallye...
Tough tarmac test awaits for Championship leader Simon
Welsh rally star Simon Hughes heads east to the Czech Republic next week, as the 22 year old from Colwyn Bay looks to make it two maximum scores in a row in the Skoda Fabia Rallye Cup.
With Stranraer based Ulsterman Glenn Patterson on the pace notes, Hughes is keen to repeat his dominant win on the opening round of the primarily Czech based series that offers close competition in identically specification Skoda Fabia 1.4 cars. Hughes and Patterson made light work of the snowy and icy conditions to win the opening round, the Mogul Sumava Rallye, by a near two minute margin five weeks ago.
This weekend will see them leave the snow and ice behind for the bumpy tarmac of the Valasska Rally (April 1/2), based in the South East of the country. Once again, it will be a totally new experience for Hughes, who has spent the past few seasons within the British Rally Championship behind the wheel of a Renault Clio Super 1600 and a latest specification Subaru Impreza Group N car. The 140bhp Skoda is quite a different animal in contrast to the Renault and the Subaru, but Hughes has already been impressed by the performance of the Max Racing prepared machine:
'Its a lot of fun to drive, especially on the snow and ice' commented Simon ahead of the rally. 'The car is set up for tarmac, and as such, it handles very well, and the braking on the car is also very stable. With good suspension as well, it all adds up to inspire a lot of confidence in the car early on, and that was part of the reason why we were able to pull out a good lead on our rivals on the first rally.'
Despite the flattery of a one minute forty eight second win on the series opener, Hughes was trading times with two experienced Skoda drivers during the Klatovy based Sumava Rallye. Josef Sedlaček and Ladislav Kopelent were both able to match Simon's pace on a couple of the stages, so Simon is more than aware that the switch from snow and ice to pure tarmac could have a major affect on the leaderboard this time around:
'I think we'll see where the true pace of the championship is from this rally onwards. In fairness, I had some experience of driving on snow and ice from before, so that was an advantage for me on the opening round. Both Josef and Ladislav showed they were capable of putting very quick times in, so that is something I expect to continue into this round. However, I think we will also see what the other crews can offer on this rally as well - so I expect the times to be a lot closer on this event.'
Although he holds a slender five point lead at the top of the series points tally, Hughes was keen to stress that winning the championship would certainly be a welcome bonus for the Welshman, but it was not his number one priority in terms of contesting the entire series:
'People are already tipping us strongly for title success, which brings some additional pressures of course' Hughes added. 'Our stated aim remains to get in as many stage miles as we can this year, whilst fine tuning my pace notes along the way. There is no doubt that we want to do well and of course we will try and win the championship if that is possible. However, we are only one rally into the season, and we must continue to seek experience rather than concentrate on winning at this time. We will certainly be trying hard to be competitive on this next rally though, so it should make for an interesting battle I hope.'
Championship information can be found on www.fabia-cup.com along with news, rally information and photographs from the rallies that Simon contests this season.