Skoda Are Full Of Surprises
A chance encounter with a record breaking car this weekend served as a reminder that Skoda have many talents but sometimes we don’t hear enough about them.
The car in question was the Octavia vRS that took to the Bonneville salt flats in 2011. Yes, the same Bonneville salt flats where countless attempts at record-breaking speed runs have been made over the decades. The place where Gary Gabelich took his rocket powered Blue Flame to an average speed of 630.478mph in 1970 (later eclipsed by Andy Green’s 760.343mph in ThrustSSC, but that was in the Black Rock Desert).
Skoda were there to set a new record in the 2.0-litre production car category, aiming to eclipse the existing 216mph target in their 2.0-litre Octavia vRS. It was part of a campaign to celebrate 10 years of the increasingly popular vRS badge.
Despite the dramatic green-and-chrome paintwork the car itself was fresh from the factory with just a few tweaks to the body to improve aerodynamics and 80mm lower suspension for an even more slippery profile. Engine mods were limited to a massive Garret turbocharger running at 30PSI, a REVO Technik ECU remap and a tankful of high-octane race fuel. The result was over 500bhp, enough to propel the Octavia to an average speed of 227.080mph and set a new class record.
I also learnt another new Skoda fact this weekend. This is the tenth year in a row that they’ve been the official sponsor and supplier of support cars to the Tour de France. This year they’re providing a fleet of 250 cars to chase the lycra-clad cyclists as they hurtle up and down the mountains of France.
The fleet consists mainly of the new Octavia Combi and Superb estates but there are Rapids, Yetis, and Citigos thrown in for good measure. If you think trailing around the mountains following a few cyclists is easy, just consider that each year the support cars cover a distance of around 2.8 million kilometres during the Tour.
Over the last nine years that’s a total distance of almost 25 million kilometres. And the bit that Skoda are most pleased about? There’s not been one case of a one of their cars suffering technical problems and breaking down.
Like the record breaking Octavia vRS, it’s a fact that Skoda are rather keen to shout about, but perhaps they need to shout just a little bit louder.