The name Skoda might not jump out on this side of the Atlantic, but on the opposing shore, the Czech automaker is known for a rich history in rally racing that stretches back over a hundred years to the roots of motorsports. Volkswagen's acquisition of the brand in 1991 meant that Skoda had more funding to properly compete in the World Rally Championship against well-funded works teams like Subaru and Mitsubishi, but Skoda ended up pulling out in 2005 in favor of the more budget-friendly production-car-based Super 2000 formula (Note: PDF link). The formula calls for a 2-liter, normally-aspired engine with no more than 280 horsepower driving all four wheels through a standardized six-speed sequential gearbox with no electronic gizmos.
With that kind of rally-driven focus, it's no wonder that Skoda showed a racing concept version of its new Fabia alongside the production model at last year's Geneva show. Now almost a year later, Skoda has come a long way in developing the new car. Far enough, anyway, to give us some mouth-watering new images of the car, which looks something like the lovechild of a JCW MINI and a Ferrari 575 GTC Evoluzione. Pretty badass, any way you cut it, but don't take our word for it... check out the images in the gallery below (and the press release after the jump) and judge for yourself.
ŠKODA AUTO STARTS TESTING FABIA SUPER 2000
Škoda Auto has started testing the first prototype of the Škoda Fabia Super 2000 today. Designed to be used in the Super 2000 category, the vehicle is based on the second-generation Fabia and, in compliance with the FIA regulations, is equipped with a two-litre atmospheric four-cylinder petrol engine, a six-speed sequential transmission and a four-wheel drive system with three mechanical differentials.
Commenting on the occasion, Dr. Eckhard Scholz, Škoda Auto BOD Member responsible for technological development, said: "We are glad to have started testing the Fabia Super 2000. This year we are planning to optimise and certify the vehicle so that we can use it on both national and international levels. When exactly will the vehicle be released for competition use will depend on the achieved progress, relevant test results and the final certification. Then we are also planning to offer the vehicle to private teams. Based on a customer service arrangement, further development work on the vehicle will be done in close cooperation with our importers worldwide".
Martin Lauer, Head of Corporate Communications, adds: "The history of over hundred years of involvement in motorsport is unique, and we are proud to be able to continue the success story with the Fabia Super 2000. We believe that the vehicle will become a successful part of this tradition, because car racing is popular all over the world and offers great opportunities to promote our products".