With the dedicated commitment from the Hippo rally team and the ever increasing demands from the rally car, it was apparent that now was the time to once again upgrade the team’s vehicle. In the last 2 years alone, the team have experimented with different cars and experienced varying levels of success.
The end of 2014 saw the Hippo team part with the Mitsubishi Evo 9. The Evo had been a regular for the team at the Wales Rally GB and other highly publicised events winning many class wins and podium finishes.
In 2015 we upgraded to the 2002 Ford Focus WRC previously driven by Carlos Sainz. Despite the age of the car, the Focus proved itself, by placing for some good finishing spots for our rally team. Towards the end of 2015, Hippo Director and Rally Driver, Tom Preston, began looking for a brand new rally car. After looking at various different models the team then decided to invest in a brand new factory built Skoda Fabia R5. Skoda have been a force in rallying for quite some time, the Skoda Fabia has also received much praise since its launch and customer teams are enjoying superb success in their respective competitive bouts. It seems that Skoda has taken the European Rallying season by storm thus far, with a win in Germany, a podium finish in Portugal and a highly positive start in the British rally championship.
The new Hippo team rally car will have its debut performance on the BTRDA Somerset Stages on the 16th of April and have a test booked with the 2011-2014 Rally America Champion, David Higgins, before the event to get some much needed mileage in before the weekends rally. The Somerset Stages is a long-running annual event on the edge of Exmoor National Park and last year’s Somerset Stages was won by B14 class driver David Weston and co-driver Kirsty Riddick in the Subaru Impreza WRC.
Following on from the Somerset Stages, the Hippo team will take to remaining rounds of the British Rally championship which kicks off again on the Pirelli rally in Carlisle on the 30th of April. Speaking about the championship Tom said “I am really looking forward to getting out in the car doing some events, in previous years I have done selected events with some decent results, but I am hoping to do a lot more this year so I can get used to the car and get some better results”.
Keep your eyes peeled for more pictures and news following the team’s future rally participations.