First test crowned with Champaign ! Hermen Kobus wins the Staden Rally 2015


Hermen Kobus and Erik de Wild did not fail on their debut in their Skoda R5. In the Staden Rally Hermen immediately showed the potential of his new R5 ending first on all 12 stages. The first test session was crowned with a deserved victory leaving runners up Tobi Vandenberghe en Paul Lietaer more than 2 minutes behind.

Their first acquaintance with their brand new Skoda Fabia R5 in the rally of Staden was on a compact race in West-Flemish, on stages comparable with rally’s like “Omloop van Vlaanderen” and TAC Rally. On the menu it had a 120 kn Chrono, spread over 4 rounds of three different specials stages and sufficient service time to adjust the car settings, ideal for a test session.

The tone was set immediately. Although it was his first meters with the new Skoda Fabia R5 Hermen opened setting the three fastest times immediately, a demonstration that lasted all day long. 12 out of 12 and as from the beginning the first victory with the Skoda. Their second win overall after their victory in the Tank S Short-Rally in 2013.

“Winning is always fun, but today I did not even take it to the maximum” Hermen told after the finish. “We knew that the set-up was not yet optimal. The front differential is too tight, which cause us having too much under steer. We couldn’t change that today, because the differential will only be adjusted during the test session before Barum with Skoda Motorsport. We made a little change to the settings of the shock absorbers. To overcome the under steer I adjusted my driving style a bit, driving a little more aggressive and using the handbrake a little more often. That worked well.”

In any case, it went fast on those little West-Flemish lanes...

“As a pilot you do not have notice that it goes that fast. With the Fiesta we were always running at high revs and when going 170 km/h we were against the speed limiter, but the Skoda pulls through easily till 200 km/h. On the fastest parts we went much faster. The chassis is excellent. The adjustment to the 5-speed transmission and the turbo engine went smoothly.

To Erik de Wild, his victory in Staden was an early birthday present, because on Monday Erik celebrated his 40th birthday. He too was thrilled after his first win with the Skoda.

“You can feel that this is a top car. Even with the standard settings it already went fast. Hermen impressed me today by the way he handled the under steer problem, adjusting his driving style. Pure class.” Erik told.

Hermen Kobus and Erik de Wild are going to their first rendezvous in the European Championships with their Skoda with great confidence: The Barum Rally in Zlin, Czech Republic from August 28 till August 30st.

Also Gert-Jan Kobus, Erik’s younger brother raced in Staden with his trusted Ford Fiesta R2. After his crash at high speed in Germany he wanted to regain confidence. After a cautious first round he increased the pace in the 2nd round. With young Norwegian Marius Aasen active in the World Championship with his Fiesta R2 EcoBoost, Gert-Jan had a perfect target; Halfway Kobus was only 3” behind the Norwegian.

“In the 2nd part of the race we were held up by other competitors twice, which eventually caused us to finish 35” from Aasen, “Gert-Jan explained.  For the occasion Gert-Jan was navigated by Cindy Verbaeten.   “But I reached my most important goal which was regaining confidence and increase the speed during the race. That worked well for me and I am already looking forward to my next race with the Fiesta R2: the East Belgian Rally.”