October 7, 2017
With exciting stages in Liepāja and Alūksne region, day one of the FIA European Rally Championship round Rally Liepāja has concluded. The current leader is Nikolay Gryazin (Škoda Fabia R5, co-driven by Yaroslav Fedorov), who is competing with a racing licence issued by the Latvian Automobile Federation. The fastest Latvian crew – Jānis Vorobjovs / Ivo Pūķis (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X) are currently seventh overall.
Alexey Lukyanuk (Ford Fiesta R5, co-driven by Alexey Arnautov) got into an early lead, but clutch issues resulted in a loss of around 3 minutes, handing the lead to Gryazin, who finished day one 18.3 seconds ahead of Kalle Rovanpera (Ford Fiesta R5, co-driven by Jonne Halttunen). SS6/7 Liepāja City Stage turned out to be unlucky for multiple crews – first, Alexey Lukyanuk sideswiped a tree, ending his race, followed by Bruno Magalhaes hitting the tree again, after which the stage was stopped fand did not resume. Magalhaes is currently in the hospital for additional medical checks. That moved Kajetan Kajetanowicz (Ford Fiesta R5, co-driven by Jarek Baran) up to third place, and, after the crash of Magalhaes, he became a three time European champion (pending official approval)!
“This time, I just wanted to get a good result for myself. It is difficult to find grip in these changing conditions. We hit something in the first stage, but did not lose any time. I was cautious in the morning, but, after the first service, I began to drive quicker and more aggressively, but controlling the car became increasingly difficult,” says Nikolay Gryazin, who is also leading the ERC Junior U28 class, giving himself a nice present on his twentieth birthday.
Jānis Vorobjovs has had a dominant showing in the ERC2 class, winning all of today’s stages. Meanwhile, FIA World Rallycross Championship driver Reinis Nitišs (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, co-driven by Māris Neikšāns) is continuing to gain experience in rallying, finishing day one in second place in ERC2.
“Choosing to start first in these conditions was a good decision. Of course, the road surface was extremely slippery in some places, but we managed to avoid big mistakes, so I am happy with how the day went. Our goal is to finish in the top six in the overall classification,” comments Jānis Vorobjovs.
“There were some breath-taking moments on the third stage, but not having any of those would just mean that we are going too slowly. My co-driver, Māris Neikšāns, mentioned that he must be getting old, as he got scared a few times. Of course, there were some mistakes, but I managed to avoid turning those into larger problems,” shares Reinis Nitišs.
In ERC3, Jari Huttunen (Opel Adam R2, co-driven by Antti Linnaketo) and Liepāja native Mārtiņš Sesks (Peugeot 208 R2, co-driven by Andris Mālnieks) were in an exciting battle for the lead all the way up to the fifth stage, where Sesks rolled his car. Huttunen is also the current leader in ERC Junior U27 class.
“We began the rally without taking any risks, as it had rained all night. I felt good and began increasing my pace. I like driving fast, which I could do on the second stage. The stages are difficult in some areas, but still exciting to drive! There is no need to put our heads down, as we are able to continue. Before the start of the fifth stage, we talked with our coach about taking that corner as quickly as possible – we tried taking it with full throttle, but did not manage to do that. Luckily, the roll cage is not damaged,” admits Mārtiņš Sesks.
It was a disappointing day one for Jānis Berķis (Ford Fiesta R5, co-driven by Edgars Čeporjus), who did not return to the stages in the afternoon after a technical problem. “Engine problems began before we got to the first stage. It went into safe mode, so we were not able to fight for a good result. In addition to that, we also had other electrical problems, and did not manage to get to the afternoon stages. I have to admit that we are very disappointed by this turn of events,” says Jānis Berķis.
In parallel with the European championship, the winners in the sixth round of the Latvian Rally Championship were also determined today. Nikolay Gryazin and Kalle Rovanpera were fastest in the national championship as well, while Jānis Vorobjovs was third, also winning the LRČ2 class. With Mārtiņš Sesks rolling his car, LRČ3 class was won by Oliver Solberg (Peugeot 208 R2, co-driven by Veronica Engan), while Petr Turkin (Citroen DS3 R3T Racing, co-driven by Vasily Mirkotan) was fastest in RK1 class. On Sunday, Rally Liepāja will host the seventh and final event of the 2017 Latvian Rally Championship.
Optibet prize for the fastest total time in SS1 and SS4 was won by Nikolay Gryazin, who also won the LDz Cargo prize for the fastest total time in SS2 and SS5.
Live event results will be available on the official website of the Latvian Rally Championship, www.autorally.lv, which also has a mobile-friendly version (m.autorally.lv). The results and driver commentary will also be available on the website of the FIA European Rally Championship, at www.fiaerc.com. News can also be followed via the FIA ERC mobile app, which is available on both Google Play and the App Store.
All information and news about Rally Liepāja are available on the official website at www.lvrally.com, as well as on social media - Twitter @LVRally, Facebook /LVRally, draugiem.lv /lvrally, YouTube /RallyLiepāja, and Instagram /lvrally.
FIA European Rally Championship round Rally Liepāja is possible thanks to the support of the Latvian government and the rally city of Liepāja. We would also like to thank our sponsors Neste and Optibet Sporta Bārs, and our partner LDz Cargo. Thanks to the provider of official cars Autobrava, as well as supporters Baltijas Helikopters, Castrol, Canon ibServiss Rīga, Liepājas Olimpiskais Centrs, Liepājas SEZ, NPK Expert, Ramirent, and SweCon. Informative support is provided by news portal DELFI, rally radio Kurzemes Radio, as well as Go4Speed and Zebra. Rally Liepāja would also not be possible without our rally friends: Dardedze, Esi Draugs, FN Serviss, Jānis Pūce, Liepājas Datoru Centrs, Maksikoms, N&J, Red Bull, SidusNet, SignTech, Sixt, Sportland, Törley, and Venden. A special thank you goes out to the Latvian Automobile Federation. Rally Liepāja is organized by RA EVENTS and Speed Festival Kurzeme, with support by the regional councils of Durbe, Aizpute, and Priekule.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 8
7:55 Start of first rally car from Liepāja (from the service park on Pulvera street)
9:00 SS 8 CASTROL EDGE SUPERCAR 1 (Priekule)
10:00 SS 9 CANON BIZNESA CENTRS-IB SERVISS 1 (Podnieki)
10:30 SS 10 NESTE 1 (Vecpils)
13:10 SS 11 CASTROL EDGE SUPERCAR 2 (Priekule)
14:10 SS 12 CANON BIZNESA CENTRS-IB SERVISS 2 (Podnieki)
14:45 SS 13 NESTE 2 (Vecpils)
16:10 Rally Liepāja finish podium (next to the service park on Pulvera street)
17:00 Eighth round of the FIA European Rally Championship, Sixth round of the FIA ERC Junior Championship, Seventh round of the Latvian Rally Championship awards ceremony on the Rally Liepāja finish podium (next to the service park on Pulvera street)
* all times are preliminary and subject to change