*Slovakia’s ŠKODA arm follows German equivalent with ERC campaign
*Koči among increasing number of promising drivers in European R5 category
*Exciting ERC season starts on Azores Airlines Rallye this month
The FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship has attracted yet another rising talent with confirmation that Martin Koči will tackle the series for young stars in R5 cars.
Koči, 24, will pilot a ŠKODA Slovakia Motorsport Fabia R5 in a combined progamme of national championship and ERC events, where his rivals are set to include Fredrik Åhlin, Chris Ingram, Frank Tore Larsen, Pierre-Louis Loubet, Laurent Pellier and ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland’s Fabian Kreim.
His father Michal Koči’s Styllex Motorsport team will prepare the Fabia R5. Czech Filip Schovánek, who once partnered former European champion Jan Kopecký, will co-drive. Their first ERC outing of 2018 will be the Azores Airlines Rallye from 22-24 March.
“I am very happy that ŠKODA AUTO Slovensko, a strong partner of Slovakian ice hockey and cycling, is opening a new chapter of its sponsoring activities,” said the company’s Marek Růžička. “With the history of our brand and current successes in international motorsport, our support of Slovakian motorsport is a logical step. I am convinced that combining the best car in its category, a talented driver in Martin Koči and the ŠKODA Slovakia Motorsport team will bring wins and other good results.”
Koči, who achieved significant success in the Junior world championship as well as on home soil, in Czech Republic and at FIA European Rally Trophy level, was full of praise of the ŠKODA he will use in the 2018 ERC. “It’s a very precise and high-quality rally car with great power response. It is very reliable with every detail focused on the best sporting performance.”
Michal Koči, who has experience of co-driving former European champions Enrico Bertone and Yves Loubet – father of Martin Koči’s ERC Junior U28 rival Pierre-Louis Loubet – in the ERC, added: “The partnership with ŠKODA AUTO Slovensko is the joining of forces of two strong companies, the basis of making good results, the strengthening of the ŠKODA brand and also our team in motorsport. I am sure that our cooperation will be successful.”
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “It’s really good news that Martin Koči will among the promising young drivers chasing success – and a prize drive in a World Rally Car – in the ERC Junior Under 28 Championship. He has a very strong record in rallying and demonstrated his pace against the European championship regulars on Barum Czech Rally Zlín last summer. The Azores Airlines Rallye will be a tough event to start his campaign but it’s perfect for building experience and establishing himself. We’re also very pleased to welcome ŠKODA AUTO Slovensko to the ERC. Along with SKODA AUTO Deutschland, the company has clearly identified the return on an investment an ERC campaign can bring.”