With the World Rally Championship coming to an end, the Skoda Fabia R5 decided to take a second job to fill up its spare time and signed up as a taxi in Prague. Keeping the motorsport livery while adding a taxi sign on the roof, the rally car hit the streets of Czech Republic’s capital with Jan Kopecký behind the wheel, a five-time Czech rally champion, who covered a total of 165 kilometers (102 miles) after taking 23 passengers to their desired destinations.
Needless to say, this was merely a publicity stunt from Skoda to mark the Fabia R5’s rally success after securing the title in the WRC 2 category and winning no less than 14 other national and regional titles. Those who had the privilege of sitting on the passenger seat had to perform the same job as Kopecký’s co-driver Pavel Dresler, meaning they had to read the pace notes and even turn on the wipers.
Billed as being the most successful rally car in its category, the Skoda Fabia R5 is far from being the typical taxi considering it packs around 290 horsepower and 310 pound-feet (420 Newton-meters) of torque from its turbocharged 1.6-liter gasoline engine. Unlike the road-going, front-wheel-drive Fabia, the WRC2-spec model has an AWD arrangement receiving power through a five-speed manual sequential gearbox. Having to move only 1,230 kilograms (minimum weight), the rally-spec engine derived from the 1.8 TSI built in China, turns the Fabia R5 into a pocket rocket.
But without rear seats and a small trunk, it’s not what you would call the ideal taxi. Perhaps a more suitable alternative would have to be the Fabia R5 Combi concept introduced a couple of years ago during the GTI meeting in Wörthersee or the more recent Kodiaq WRC presented for this year’s April Fools’ Day.
Gallery: Skoda Fabia R5 taxi
Prague’s fastest taxi: Rally champion Jan Kopecký giving passenger rides on board ŠKODA FABIA R5
Taxi customers in Prague experiencing live action alongside Czech Rally Champion
› Jan Kopecký drove 23 “passengers” through the Czech capital covering 165 kilometres
› Final highlight: spectacular co-drive on closed road in Letná area
› In 2017 ŠKODA teams driving FABIA R5 won World Rally Championship’s WRC 2 category as well as 14 national and numerous regional titles
Mladá Boleslav/Prague, 23 December 2017 – ŠKODA Motorsport celebrated the most successful year in its history in spectacular style. With Christmas getting closer, ŠKODA factory driver Jan Kopecký gave a number of people in Prague a special surprise: The five times Czech Rally Champion answered to calls for a taxi, showing up with a 290 bhp ŠKODA FABIA R5 rally car. What followed was an unforgettable drive through the streets of the Czech capital – unforgettable for Kopecký and his guests alike.
“Driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5 through the city of Prague really was an unique experience. Luckily nobody got stomach problems. Nevertheless I was well prepared having sickness bags in ŠKODA colours on board,” laughed ŠKODA factory driver Jan Kopecký.
Driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5 the five times Czech Rally Champion normally thrills spectators along special stages around the world. This time, with Christmas getting closer by the day, he made a number of people a very exclusive present: Randomly picked “taxi customers” got the chance to co-drive Kopecký on the streets of Prague’s city centre on board the turbo-powered, all-wheel driven rally car. The ŠKODA FABIA R5 was seen all over the Czech capital during the day, starting at Prague’s fruit market. Later on “cabby” Kopecký changed to Dlouhá Street, where he turned some more heads during the early evening hours.
Strapped down in the hot seat, normally the “office” of Kopecký’s co-driver Pavel Dresler, the passengers had to fulfill difficult tasks during the rides. For example they had to read the pace notes, the meticulous stage description used during a rally, or to figure out how the co-driver can activate the ŠKODA FABIA R5’s wipers. So they could experience firsthand the demanding job of a co-driver on board a rally car.
ŠKODA Storyboard additionally features an interview with Kopecký about his debut as taxi driver.
ŠKODA FABIA R5 is the most successful rally car of its category
In 2017 the ŠKODA FABIA R5 drove from victory to victory, not only in the WRC 2 category of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) but also in a number of regional and national championships. Thereby the ŠKODA FABIA R5 was the most successful rally car in its category by a long stretch. On World Rally Championship level ŠKODA factory crew Pontus Tidemand and fellow Swede Jonas Andersson won the WRC 2 title – becoming the third team in a row to win WRC 2 honours driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5. At the same time ŠKODA Motorsport took the FIA WRC 2 Team Championship. In the Czech Championship Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZE/CZE), also competing in a ŠKODA FABIA R5, scored their fifth national title. In total 14 crews won their country’s national championships. Furthermore, the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), the FIA South American Rally Championship (CODASUR) and the FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) were won by teams driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5.
In 2018 ŠKODA Motorsport is aiming to continue the success story. Main focus will be on the World Rally Championship’s WRC 2 category again, where ŠKODA Motorsport will enter its youngest driver squad ever. Furthermore, ŠKODA Motorsport will support customer teams worldwide. On ŠKODA’s home soil Jan Kopecký is going to defend the title of Czech Rally Champion. His ŠKODA FABIA R5 will carry the tricolour of the Czech flag, paying tribute to the 100th birthday of the founding date of Czechoslovakia back in 1918.