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Rally Liepaja (Latvia) (J) - NEW DATE - 17-18 Sep 16

Posted: September 17, 2016 4:27 PM - 3724 Hits

Round 1 - 2016 European Rally Championship (ERC)

Live Results (Liepaja 2016) | Results by: rally-base results
Rally Radio / News | European Rally Championship (ERC) - fiaerc.com
Event Website: Liepaja-Ventspils (Latvia)
Twitter: @FIAERC

First stage each day - Times are Ireland/UK
Qualifying - Fri - 15:00
SS1 - Sat - 07:25
SS8 - Sun - 07:30

Event preview: Sirmacis chasing home success as Kajetanowicz nears ERC crown in Latvia

Posted: September 12, 2016 9:59 AM

Young Latvian Ralfs Sirmacis will hope to add a victory on home soil to his impressive first season at the top level of the FIA European Rally Championship on Rally Liep?ja next weekend (16-18 September).

The event will begin a new era as a pure gravel rally following a rescheduling from February, when it was due to run as a winter contest only for a lack of snow to force its postponement, but that’s unlikely to phase 22-year-old Sirmacis: already a winner in Greece and Estonia within his first four starts in top-line R5 machinery. He’ll be able to drive without championship pressure, unlike Kajetan Kajetanowicz, who is on the brink of successfully defending his ERC title.

One crown that will definitely be decided in Latvia is the FIA ERC Junior Championship, with Opel team-mates Chris Ingram and Marijan Griebel both entering the deciding round knowing a win will secure them the spoils and a prize drive in an R5 car on the season-closing Cyprus Rally next month.

The challenge

Rally Liep?ja has been part of the ERC since its first edition in 2013 but there’s a big change for this year, with temperatures forecast around 20°C instead of the usual snow and ice after mild weather at the start of the year forced a rescheduling from February to September. The rally will continue on pure gravel in the ERC until at least 2019 following a recent contract extension. After the Qualifying Stage and start order selection on Friday 16 September, there will be 13 stages and 203.6 competitive kilometres, focused around Kuld?ga for Saturday’s first five stages before a return to Liep?ja for two runs around a city stage at the new Great Amber concert hall. The rally concludes with six more tests on Sunday.

The contenders

Ralfs Sirmacis (Sports Racing Technologies ŠKODA Fabia R5): It was on his home round where Sirmacis first made his name in the ERC, and the four-time Latvian class champion is sure to feel at home on the gravel roads, which will be similar in their high-speed nature to Estonia.

Kajetan Kajetanowicz (LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5): With a 76-point advantage in the standings, just three points in Latvia will be enough to secure his second title, but as was proved in the Czech Republic when he suffered an engine issue, nothing is guaranteed.

Alexey Lukyanuk (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X): Retains a slim title chance heading to Latvia despite minor but costly damage incurred at the end of his last two events. Tight for budget, he’s swapped his R5 Fiesta for his ERC2 Mitsubishi, but won when he last did that in Estonia in 2015.

Frank Tore Larsen (Ford Fiesta R5): The promising Norwegian would have loved to have competed on snow in Latvia but is quick on gravel too, and makes a second ERC start following several top-five stage times in the Azores in June and a recent rally win at home.

Raul Jeets (Sports Racing Technologies ŠKODA Fabia R5): With two fourth-place finishes under his belt already this season, the team-mate to Sirmacis in the ŠKODA Baltic Motorsport-backed SRT operation will hope he can transfer his form from home nation Estonia across the border.

The challengers

Polish champion ?ukasz Habaj recently abandoned his domestic campaign to further his skills on the ERC, and in particular improve on gravel events like Rally Liep?ja. The Rallytechnology driver may well battle with compatriot and fellow Ford Fiesta R5 driver Jaros?aw Ko?tun of C-Rally. Tomasz Kasperczyk meanwhile will hope to make further progress after a strong home run on Rally Rzeszow in his Tiger Energy Drink Rally Team Fiesta. Reigning ERC2 champion Dávid Botka will hope for a repeat of his fourth place in the Azores after another run of bad luck in his Citroën DS3 R5. After a good finish in Zlín, Belgium’s Cédric Cherain makes the trip to Latvia in another Fiesta R5 to continue his build-up to the bigger ERC programme he hopes to embark on next season. Local ŠKODA Fabia R5 driver Raimonds Kisiels returns for an event he finished seventh on two years ago.

The reward

A total prize fund of 200,000 Euros is on offer to competitors in the ERC again this year. A sum of 20,000 Euros is available at each of the 10 events on the calendar, shared between the seven highest-placed eligible drivers in the final rally classification regardless of category. This year, all drivers that have registered for the ERC will be eligible as long as they are using tyres from one of the championship’s partner suppliers (Michelin and Pirelli). In 2015, 38 ERC drivers earned prize money.

The class acts

The ERC is split into three categories: ERC1 for top-of-the-range R5 machinery, ERC2 for production-based models and ERC3 for two-wheel-drive cars. The ERC Junior Championship takes place on six rounds for drivers born in 1989 or later, competing in R2 machinery on Pirelli tyres.

ERC Junior: Winner takes it all, but others eye an upset

After his win in Zlín, Chris Ingram has a 31-point lead over title rival and Opel team-mate Marijan Griebel going into the deciding round, but with the best four out of six scores counting, that advantage comes down to 14 and either driver could guarantee themselves the title – and a prize drive in an R5 car on the Cyprus Rally – with a maximum score. However, with a strong entry, their battle could well be interrupted, perhaps by 18-year-old Nikolay Gryazin who competes under the Latvian flag for the local Sports Racing Technologies squad and sat ahead of the Opel duo in second place in Estonia before a spectacular roll in his Peugeot 208 R2. The winner then was Estonian Miko Niinemäe, who returns in his 208. ?ukasz Pieni??ek holds third in the standings but faces competition from fellow Opel Adam R2 driver Julius Tannert as well as Gryazin and Czech driver Dominik Brož (Ford Fiesta R2). Niinemäe is joined in returning by compatriot Gustav Kruuda – who won leg two in Estonia after getting up to speed in his new Fiesta R2T – and Finns Joonas Tokee (208) and Alex Forsström (Adam) as well as Brit Catie Munnings (208). The field is completed by Hungarian Kristóf Klausz (208) and 16-year-old local M?rti?š Sesks (208) whose father is the Mayor of Liep?ja and steps up from the ERC Junior Experience, which helped him win the two-wheel drive class in the Rally Estonia national event. The Juniors are joined in ERC3 by Turkish champion Murat Bostanci (Fiesta R2T), Hungarian Szabolcs Várkonyi (208) and Russia’s Artur Muradian (Renault Clio R3).

ERC2 gets Lukyanuk, leaders and locals in Latvia

Rally Liep?ja would have perhaps the strongest ERC2 field of the season even if Alexey Lukyanuk had not switched to his Mitsubishi. The top three in the standings – Wojciech Chucha?a, Giacomo Scattolon and Tibor Érdi – are all present. Subaru Poland Rally Team driver Chucha?a faces a tough task to continue his 100 per cent record, but can clinch the title if he maintains his advantage over Ypres and Zlín winner Scattolon. There’s also a strong local contingent including 2014 winner J?nis Vorobjovs and M?ris Neikš?ns, who contests the rally in the driver’s seat for the first time, while Estonia’s Siim Plangi is always fast, finishing second overall on the event last year.

Teen star Rovanperä enters the world stage
He’s not yet old enough to compete in the ERC – he doesn’t even celebrate his 16th birthday until 1 October – but there will be plenty of eyes on Kalle Rovanperä on Rally Liep?ja, where he will compete in the national event. The son of WRC winner Harri became a star on YouTube with his driving skills at the age of eight, and this year has wowed the rally world with his results in a ŠKODA Fabia R5 in Latvia, where drivers can compete at 15 and where he leads the national championship. This will be the first time he’s competed alongside an international event, driving the same stages.

Driver quotes

Ralfs Sirmacis (Sports Racing Technologies ŠKODA Fabia R5):
“After my crash on Barum Czech Rally Zlín I've watched the onboard videos and analysed my mistakes. It’s important to understand what was going wrong there to achieve the best result in Liep?ja. Of course my aim is victory! The last time I competed in the Kurzeme district in summer was in 2014, so despite the fact that I am a local driver it will be interesting for me too to be back on these roads. At the moment I’m not stressed, I’m just trying to focus and properly prepare for the start. I know that at this ERC round everybody expects the best from me because this rally takes place in Latvia and I’m Latvian. I feel a little pressure, because a lot of my fans will be watching my performance. I will try to do my best and provide them a victory!"

Chris Ingram (Opel Rallye Junior Team Adam R2):
“I’m finding it difficult to sleep because of the anticipation for what will probably one of the most important rallies of my career. I have worked and dreamed about winning a FIA rally title since I was a young boy spectating on rallies and cheering on my heroes. We have a lot of confidence from our win at Barum a few weeks ago so I need to stay focused and do the job again in Latvia. Repaying Opel, my partners and supporters by winning the championship and taking a sixth consecutive podium from the six rounds would be amazing!”

Marijan Griebel (Opel Rallye Junior Team Adam R2):
“For sure my prospects in the battle for the championship aren’t easy. In Latvia we will be facing strong opposition – not only by our own team mates but also by those bloody quick ‘local heroes’. The initial situation is crystal clear: If I want to clinch the title I have to win at Liep?ja. It is as easy as that so at least we don’t have to waste a thought on tactical considerations. After our strong outings this year at Poland and the Azores we know that we have a good feeling in our Adam R2 and can be fully competitive also on gravel. So we take on the challenge!”

On this event in 2015…

Craig Breen won the second round of the 2015 ERC after a faultless drive in his Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16, mastered the most difficult of winter conditions, with thawing ice and slippery wet snow on day one and heavy blizzards of snow and freezing fog on day two. Alexey Lukyanuk led after the first stage before rolling his Ford Fiesta R5, restarted for the second leg and showed what could have been as he won five of the day’s six stages. Kajetan Kajetanowicz then took the fight to Breen but soon stopped with damage. As a result, three ERC2 contenders finished in the top four, with Estonia’s Siim Plangi second in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, winning ER2 ahead of Lithuanian Dominykas Butvilas and Latvian M?rtinš Svilis. Robert Consani was delighted to reach the finish in fifth and claim the points lead. Emil Bergkvist won the first round of the ERC Junior Championship and finished an extraordinary sixth overall. Steve Røkland had a great run to second in his Peugeot, while Ralfs Sirmacis completed the ERC Junior podium for Sports Racing Technologies, also earning the prestigious Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy following his battling performance.

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Posted: September 12, 2016 9:58 AM

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Posted: August 31, 2016 6:36 AM

Rally Liepaja organiser RA EVENTS has come to an agreement with the promoter of the FIA European Rally Championship, Eurosport Events, on including the Liepaja and Kuldiga region based event in the European Championship calendar for at least three more years – up until 2019.

“I am extremely grateful to say that our hard work as a team has been highly valued and appreciated, and that Latvia has been given an opportunity to keep an event in the European Championship calendar! It is also important to mention that the Latvian round will take place on gravel, giving us an opportunity to use unique solutions in organising the rally, therefore providing a completely new experience for the spectators who will come out to watch the powerful R5 class cars in action!

I would like to thank the Latvian government, Liepaja and Kuldiga local governments, as well as our rally partners for the great collaboration in these past few seasons, which has led to an opportunity to keep this event in Latvia for at least three more years. One of our goals, set before the very first European Championship event here in 2013, has been achieved – it did not take a whole lot of time to see a Latvian crew, Ralfs Sirmacis and Art?rs Šimins, competing in the most powerful class, giving local fans someone to cheer for throughout the season. I wish them to use every advantage that a “home” event can provide on their way to a fantastic victory here in Liepaja! In addition to that, I would like to encourage other rally drivers to keep striving toward their goals, and hopefully we will see other Latvian crews fighting for the European champion’s title soon!” RA EVENTS director Raimonds Strokšs.

“We’re delighted to confirm the extension of our contract with Rally Liepaja for a further three years. It has brought a unique dimension to the FIA European Rally Championship since joining as a snow rally, and we are sure that it will be just as spectacular when it runs as a gravel rally next month. For the future, it will retain a gravel slot, but the professionalism and adaptability of this event has already proved to be second to none. The decision to extend the contract was easily taken as a result of the quality of the stages, the importance of the Baltic region to the championship, and the excellence of the organising team. Together, we look forward to a bright future of rallying in Latvia.” FIA European Rally Championship general coordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley.

“Eurosport’s decision to continue collaboration in organising a FIA European Rally Championship event in Latvia is a very welcome one in Liepaja, which has decades long rally history and tradition. For the last four years, Liepaja has served as a home base for this rally, thereby strengthening its name in the European and world motorsports life. “Rally Liepaja” has become an eagerly awaited event in the city, bringing an economic contribution to Liepaja and the whole Kurzeme region, and increasing worldwide recognition of the region for millions of fans who follow both our event and the whole championship!” Liepaja council chairman Uldis Sesks.

We would like to remind you that the first FIA European Rally Championship event in Latvia, Rally Liepaja-Ventspils, took place from February 1 to 3 of 2013. The event was won by Finns Jari Ketomaa / Kaj Lindström. Starting from 2014, name of the rally was changed to Rally Liepaja, and the event programme has included stages on both Liepaja and Kuldiga region roads.

Rally Liepaja was planned to be a winter rally in 2016, set to take place from February 5 to 7, but, due to uncharacteristically warm weather, the event was moved and will instead take place from September 16 to 18. Please remember that the tickets bought to the winter event will also be valid in September. For those who have not yet bought tickets, they are available in Tourism information centres in Liepaja, Kuldiga, Talsi and Saldus, as well as in several locations in Riga and the official online shop www.easyshop.lv.

All the news and other information about Rally Liepaja is available on the official website www.lvrally.com and on social media Twitter @LVRally, Facebook /LVRally, YouTube /RallyLiepaja and Instagram /lvrally.

FIA European Rally Championship round Rally Liepaja is possible thanks to the support of the Latvian government and the rally city of Liepaja. We would also like to thank our sponsors Neste Oil, NPK Expert, Blue Shock Race, Vivus.lv, our partner Kuldiga city, the provider of official cars Autobrava, as well as supporters Baltijas Helikopters, Canon ibServiss Riga, Castrol, Liepajas Olimpiskais Centrs and SweCon. Informative support is provided by the official news portal DELFI and media partners StarFM, FHM, Go4Speed, JCDecaux, Kurzemes Radio and Zebra. Rally Liepaja would also not be possible without our rally friends: Dardedze, easyshop.lv, FN Serviss, Grandeg, Guard Systems, Holography, Janis P?ce, N&J, Liepajas Datoru Centrs, Ramirent, Red Bull, SidusNet, SignTech, Skriveru Saldumi, Venden, Veseligas Uzkodas, and Törley. A special thank you goes out to the Latvian Automobile Federation.


Posted: February 10, 2016 10:21 AM

FIA European Rally Championship round Rally Liepaja, which was planned for February but got cancelled due to uncharacteristically warm weather, has been moved to a new date, now set to take place from September 16 to 18.

All fans who have already bought rally passes for Rally Liepaja should remember that these will be valid in the event taking place in September, and will let you access all the stages of the rally. However, if the rally pass holders already have other plans for the new Rally Liepaja dates, it is possible to return these rally passes until March 31, 2016 and get a full refund. In that case, please have a look at the return terms on www.lvrally.com!

"I am pleased to say that both FIA and the championship organisers Eurosport Events were extremely helpful and we managed to work together to find a new date for Rally Liepaja, which, regardless of the weather, will make it possible to organise a safe and top quality European Championship round in Latvia.

Until now, Rally Liepaja had been planned as the only winter event of the championship, and the lone event where crews would use studded tyres, but I am absolutely certain that the Kurzeme region roads will be a unique and great challenge for the best European rally drivers in the autumn as well. I also hope that the spectators will enjoy the new date, as seeing the top R5 cars fly through the gravel stages will be a new, and highly anticipated, sight!

Rally Liepaja will also retain its important role in the ever more popular ERC Junior Championship ? originally set to be the opening round in the championship, the event based in Liepaja and Kuldiga regions will now be the final round, surely providing a lot of exciting moments in the front wheel drive R2 class as well. It is important to note that the last season runners-up in the championship were Latvians Ralfs Sirmacis / Arturs simins ? representing Sports Racing Technologies team, and this year they will be driving an all-wheel drive skoda Fabia R5!" Rally Liepaja organiser, RA Events director Raimonds Strokss.
"We are very pleased to communicate a new date for Rally Liepaja and we thank the members of the FIA Rally Commission for their assistance. Rally Liepaja is a loyal partner of ERC since Eurosport Events took over the promotion of championship in 2013. Among the last 3 years, the rally organisers have developed the event with his own identity of winter rally in total accordance with the ERC standards. Considered as a real good training for WRC Sweden, they have also opened the ERC Junior season in the last two years. A real success story which now places Rally Liepaja as a key event of the ERC.

Finding a free slot in the current calendar was not an easy exercise, as we needed to avoid any clashes with WRC events and maintain enough time for logistics between one event and the next. This rescheduling has allowed us to keep a perfect balance between gravel and asphalt events ? which is a key asset of the ERC ? and to ensure that we can run an unchanged six-round schedule in the well-known ERC Junior Championship. By announcing the new date as quickly as possible, we hope it will give teams and crews sufficient time to make the necessary arrangements and also allow fans to start planning for the rally weekend!" FIA European Rally Championship co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley.

All the news and other information about Rally Liepaja is available on the official website www.lvrally.com and on social media Twitter @LVRally, Facebook /LVRally, YouTube /RallyLiepaja and Instagram /lvrally. FIA European Rally Championship round Rally Liepaja is possible thanks to the support of the Latvian government and the rally city of Liepaja. We would also like to thank our sponsors Neste Oil, NPK Expert, Blue Shock Race, Vivus.lv, our partner Kuldiga city, as well as supporters Baltijas Helikopters, Canon ibServiss Riga, Castrol, Liepajas Olimpiskais Centrs and SweCon. Informative support is provided by the official news portal DELFI and media partners StarFM, FHM, Go4Speed, JCDecaux, Kurzemes Radio and Zebra. Rally Liepaja would also not be possible without our rally friends: Dardedze, FN Serviss, Guard Systems, Holography, Janis Puce, N&J, Liepajas Datoru Centrs, Ramirent, Red Bull, SignTech, Skriveru Saldumi, Venden and T?rley. A special thank you goes out to the Latvian Automobile Federation.


Posted: January 29, 2016 10:23 AM

Rally Liepaja, the opening round of the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship, will not take place as scheduled because of uncharacteristically warm weather conditions.

The final decision to put off the event, which was due to take place on 5-7 February, was taken by the rally organiser on Friday following the latest in a number of recent inspections of the stages in Latvia.

The inspection found that rain and ambient temperatures above freezing over recent weeks have damaged the surface of the stages, causing concerns for competitor and spectator safety on the event. The rally also takes place on public roads that are in daily use and vital to the local infrastructure. Potential damage to these roads would cause disruption for an extended period of time.

Competitors have been kept informed to minimise unnecessary travel and inconvenience, while dialogue is now underway between the event organiser and the ERC promoter, Eurosport Events, to determine whether it will be possible to reschedule the event later in the year although any new date will require the approval of the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said:
"Safety is always the number one concern and with safety very much in mind the organisers were left with no alternative other than to postpone Rally Liepaja until later in the year. The organisers have also considered the interests of the communities living on the event route because running the rally with no ice covering the stages would have resulted in considerable damage to roads that are essential for use on a daily basis. Obviously we are extremely disappointed with this development and our sympathies go out to the organisers and the many volunteers who have been working day and night to arrange what is always one of the highlights of the ERC season. We're well aware of how many disappointed fans there will be and we're also more than aware of the work the drivers, co-drivers and teams have been putting in to get ready for the rally. However, while we are looking at all the options to reschedule the event to later in the year, there is now more time to get ready for Rally Islas Canarias, which will become the opening event of the ERC season from 10-12 March."


Posted: January 20, 2016 7:17 AM

First round of the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship, Rally Liepaja, will consist of 13 stages, covering a total of 207 stage kilometres, and will take place on the Liepaja and Kuldīga region roads. The rally will conclude with a city stage in the centre of Liepaja, at footsteps of its newest culture symbol - the Great Amber concert hall.

Rally Liepaja will begin on Friday, February 5, with the qualifying stage, starting position selection for the top 15 crews and the ceremonial start. The first six stages of the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship will take place on Saturday, February 6, on the Kuldīga region roads, with the day containing not only the longest stage of the rally (SS3/4 Neste Oil at 25.14 km), but also a stage taking part in the twilight - SS6 Kuldīga 2, set to begin at 16:15. The event will continue on Sunday, February 7, when the best European drivers will compete on the roads of Liepaja region. There will be seven stages, one of which will take place on legendary roads of Vecpils - "golden fund" of Latvian rally. To determine the winner, the crews will return to Liepaja and compete on the final city stage around the Great Amber concert hall. After finishing the racing part of the event, drivers and spectators are welcome to the Great Amber for the awards ceremony.

"For the last few years, we have been working together with the city council to make it possible for the fastest European drivers to compete not only on the Liepaja region roads, but in the city as well. A few months ago, the construction of the Great Amber concert hall was finished, so I am especially proud that we will be able to bring the winter rally into the city this year. The most important stage of the rally - the final one - will take place around the Great Amber concert hall and, via Eurosport media group, will be shine on millions of TV screens around the world!" Rally Liepaja organiser, RA EVENTS director Raimonds Strokss.

2016 will be the fourth year in a row with Rally Liepaja as part of the FIA European Rally Championship. In this, the sixty-fourth season of the championship, the Latvian round will open the season and will be the only event in which crews drive on studded tyres. Rally Liepaja tickets, which will let spectators attend both days of the event, are available in several locations in Liepaja, Kuldīga, Saldus, Talsi and Rīga, as well as online at http://autorally.lv, at a price of 25.00 EUR. We would also like to remind you that all the news and other information about Rally Liepaja is available on the official website www.lvrally.com and on social media Twitter @LVRally, Facebook /LVRally, YouTube /RallyLiepaja and Instagram /lvrally. FIA European Rally Championship round Rally Liepaja is possible thanks to the support of the Latvian government and the rally city of Liepaja. We would also like to thank our sponsors Neste Oil, NPK Expert, Blue Shock Race, Vivus.lv, our partner Kuldīga city, as well as supporters Baltijas Helikopters, Canon ibServiss Rīga, Castrol, Liepajas Olimpiskais Centrs and SweCon. Informative support is provided by the official news portal DELFI and media partners StarFM, FHM, Go4Speed, JCDecaux, Kurzemes Radio and Zebra. Rally Liepaja would also not be possible without our rally friends: Dardedze, FN Serviss, Guard Systems, Holography, Janis Pūce, N&J, Liepajas Datoru Centrs, Ramirent, Red Bull, SignTech, Skrīveru Saldumi, Venden and T?rley. A special thank you goes out to the Latvian Automobile Federation.

Rally Guide / Website / Details

Posted: December 8, 2015 7:54 AM

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