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Rally Liepaja (Latvia) (J) - 25-26 May 19

Posted: May 24, 2019 6:45 AM - 1221 Hits

Round 3 - 2019 European Rally Championship (ERC)
J - Counting Round of ERC Junior Championship

Live Results (Liepaja 2019) | Results also at: rally-base results & ewrc-results.com
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 - 10:00
SS6 - Sun - 06:40

ERC Junior preview: Rally Liepaja

Posted: May 22, 2019 6:04 AM

A season-high 23 FIA ERC Junior Championship talents aiming for the top of the sport will test their skills on the high-speed stages of Rally Liep?ja this week (24-26 May).

Seven drivers will chase points in ERC1 Junior – the category for young stars in R5 cars – while ERC3 Junior for rising hopefuls competing in R2 machinery on Pirelli tyres, has 17 drivers vying to impress on the all-gravel contest based in western Latvia.

Briton Chris Ingram tops the ERC1 Junior table ahead of Toksport WRT team-mate Alexandros Tsouloftas from Cyprus, while the focus among the home fans will be on Liep?ja’s very own Ma?rtin?š Sesks, who is taking part in the first of two prize drives for winning the ERC3 Junior title in 2018.

Having impressed on his step up to R5 level last season, former ERC3 Junior contender Filip Mareš is back with continued support from the Czech federation. Sweden National Team’s Mattias Adielsson has strong pedigree on gravel, as do newcomers Hiroki Arai from Japan and Norway’s Oliver Solberg, the son of 2003 world champion Petter Solberg.

Efrén Llarena is making the most of the support he’s receiving from the RFEDA-initiated Rally Team Spain programme by leading ERC3 Junior after two rounds. However, his opposition is strong in quality and number with Pedro Antunes his closest challenger in the points battle. The FPAK Portugal Team ERC driver switches to a Ford Fiesta R2T for Rally Liep?ja having watched Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Franceschi take class honours on Rally Islas Canarias in one of the M-Sport machines.

Erik Cais (ACCR Czech Rally Team) and Estonian Autosport Junior Team pair and ERC3 Junior newcomers Gregor Jeets and Ken Torn also have the new-for-2019 Fiesta at their disposal.

After claiming a podium in the Azores, Norway’s Sindre Furuseth will be aiming to make up lost ground in the title chase following his Canarias retirement. Finn Miika Hokkanen was a podium finisher in Liep?ja last season, while Norway’s Steve Røkland has experience from the event when it ran as a winter rally.

Like Furuseth, Elias Lundberg was a podium finisher in the Azores and the Swede has spoken of his preference for gravel-based stages. He partners Belgian hope Grégoire Munster at the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team, which has won ERC3 Junior in Liep?ja four times out of five.

Petr Semerád, who turned 18 last week, starts his first gravel rally for the ACCR Czech Team. His team-mate Dominik Brož has previous experience of the Latvian roads, as do Austrian Roland Stengg and Hungary’s Kristóf Klausz, who has five Liep?ja starts to his name. Germany’s Roman Schwedt is a Liep?ja rookie and still aiming for his first points in 2019 after encountering bad luck on the first two rallies.

Action begins with Free Practice and the Qualifying Stage on 24 May followed by two days of action featuring 13 stages over a competitive distance of 207.98 kilometres. And this is what the ERC Junior drivers have had to say ahead of the third event of the season.

Mattias Adielsson (SWE) ERC1 Junior
Co-driver: Andreas Johansson (SWE) Team: Sweden National Team Car: Citroën C3 R5

“It will be a great to be back in ERC after the recce time in Canarias. It was a bit rough to do the recce and not the rally but we are more than ready for Liep?ja. I have put a lot of effort into sim-racing to get as much of the feeling as possible. The test before the rally will be great to be back in the car. We will do our absolute best. We are almost on home soil, it’s a little bit faster than what we are used to and a little bit wider but similar conditions to what we have in Sweden. We went to Liep?ja in 2015 when it was a snow rally so a little bit different. But we have seen some of the stages and I can’t wait to get as much advantage as possible with Alexey Lukyanuk as my team-mate. For sure he will be very fast and hopefully he can share some secrets with me. Our aim is to be on top in ERC1 Junior of course and these two rallies – Liep?ja and Poland – are very important for us and we will do our best to be on top from the start. We know the car is good, we know the team is good so it’s all up to us. Both me and Andreas are more than prepared. We have practiced a lot and we are feeling confident for the task. I can’t wait to get started.”

Hiroki Arai (JPN) ERC1 Junior
Co-driver: Ilka Minor (AUT) Team: STARD Car: Citroën C3 R5

“This is a unique challenge. We are planning for a good result but the main purpose is to work with Yokohama on the development of the tyres. This rally won’t be so easy because the level of the ERC is high and there are lots of young drivers with experience of this event. It’s also going to be a challenging week for me because it will be my first time with my new co-driver and I don’t really know the car. I did a rally in Latvia four years ago so I have an understanding there is more loose gravel than what you get in Finland for example.”

Chris Ingram (GBR) ERC1 Junior
Co-driver: Ross Whittock (GBR) Team: Toksport WRT Car: ŠKODA Fabia R5

“I am really excited. It doesn't feel like long ago since we were there at the end of last year. It was one of my best performances of the season so we hope to build on what we achieved last year finishing second to Gryazin at his home event. We have a great package with the Toksport ŠKODA Fabia R5 and Michelin tyres so we are building confidence on every rally. We know the competition is always strong in the ERC from the regulars or local heroes but we will be doing our best to come away from Liep?ja leading the European Rally Championship and keep Toksport in the lead of the Teams’ championship.”
Filip Mareš (CZE) ERC1 Junior
Co-driver: Jan Hloušek (CZE) Team: ACCR Czech Rally Team Car: ŠKODA Fabia R5

“I am very pleased we will be back in such a prestigious championship as the ERC. And of course, we are very thankful to the ACCR Czech Rally Team, that they give us this opportunity again. We will start our mission where we finished in 2018, so we hope we will use the experience from the previous edition. We did a visible step on the gravel between Poland and Liep?ja at the end of the 2018 season. Our objective is to continue in this way and make the gap to the fastest guys lower. For sure, the competition is going to be tough so it will be important to finish the rally and to fight for some good points for us and for the team.”

Ma?rtin?š Sesks (LVA) ERC1 Junior
Co-driver: Krišja?nis Caune (LVA) Team: LMT Autosporta Akade?mija Car: ŠKODA Fabia R5

“Our season has started not very good so it will be a big pleasure and very nice to do my home rally in a top-spec car. For sure it’s a different car, but it’s a good opportunity to show our speed again. I hope to have good feelings with the car and with my self-confidence following the tests. They are the main goals. The result is not the main thing – we need to get our confidence to drive a top-spec car on these very fast roads. Then we have a second event, Rally di Roma Capitale, when we can learn the car on asphalt.”

Oliver Solberg (NOR) ERC1 Junior
Co-driver: Aaron Johnston (GBR) Team: Sports Racing Technologies Car: Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

“I did this rally last year in an R2 car and it was very fast. Now I’m driving an R5 car it will be very, very fast. It’s my first time in the Polo on gravel so I will just try to do my best as I have no expectations. We’ve made some good improvements with the car and I’m much more comfortable. I know some of the drivers I will be competing against and I know they will be very fast, guys like Sesks and Ingram. But I try not to focus on them, I just focus on my job and build my experience because I’ve not done many rallies in the car and the two I have done were on snow. So this rally is all about learning and being smart. And I also need to think about the Latvian championship.”

Alexandros Tsouloftas (CYP) ERC1 Junior
Co-driver: Antonis Chrysostomou (CYP) Team: Toksport WRT Car: ŠKODA Fabia R5

“We are second in ERC1 Junior so of course the main goal is to try to keep that position. I know it’s going to be a fast race and, to be honest, I’ve never done one of these Scandinavian-style rallies before. But I do love speed and I’m really looking forward to it. The competition is going to be huge, especially as we have Arai, Solberg and Sesks now and Mattias Adielsson is back. It’s going to be a big challenge but I my main goal is to finish and keep my second position in the championship.”

Pedro Antunes (PRT) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Paulo Lopes (PRT) Team: FPAK Portugal Team ERC Car: Ford Fiesta R2T

“After Rally Islas Canarias we had some talks with M-Sport and we are excited to try this car. We are going to do some testing on Wednesday and this will be the first time for me in the Fiesta. The result of the rally will depend on how I think the car is and my adaptation because it’s a different car to the Peugeot and I have never driven with a turbo before. Every driver in R2 is curious about this car because of the fantastic performance we saw on Rally Islas Canarias. We saw it has more power, mostly on Tarmac, but I think we will see a good performance on gravel. Of course this rally will be a big challenge for me because I have never been to this rally before. We have some rallies on gravel in Portugal in similar conditions but not with the same speed. I have seen some images and it looks like a nice rally. Whatever happens, I just want to take advantage of the opportunity I have and do the best result I can.”

Dominik Brož (CZE) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Petr T?šínský (CZE) Team: ACCR Czech Rally Team Car: Peugeot 208 R2

“After missing Rally Islas Canarias due to logistical reasons, I am very happy that we will start Rally Liep?ja. I must say big thanks to my partners and the Czech federation for making this possible. There are very nice stages in Latvia and we will try again to do our best.”

Erik Cais (CZE) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Jind?iška Žáková (CZE) Team: ACCR Czech Rally Team Car: Ford Fiesta R2T

“From looking at the on-board footage it looks like a very fast so I’m full of expectations just how fast it will be. But it will be quite hectic for me because I will go straight from my final exam at school to the airport – I will change my civil suit for a P1 racing suit!”

Jean-Baptiste Franceschi (FRA) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Jacques-Julien Renucci (FRA) Car: Ford Fiesta R2T

“It’s a very special event, especially for me because I’m really not used to the fast roads we will find. I know it won’t be easy to be in front of the other drivers but we will prepare as well as we can. Thanks to M-Sport I will do two days of testing, which will be perfect for me to help me learn. The objective is to be in the fight for the victory but let’s see.”

Sindre Furuseth (NOR) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Jim Hjerpe (SWE) Team: Saintéloc Junior Team Car: Peugeot 208 R2

“We are for the first time this year visiting a rally I went to last year. Even though we had an early retirement last year I feel we got a taste for the rally, and we will try to use that advantage this year. It is one the fastest rallies in Europe, so to find the confidence to push will be the key for us. I have prepared well with what we have from last year, and the goal is to get the win. We have been strong so far this year, but now we need the results.”

Miika Hokkanen (FIN) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Rami Suorsa (FIN) Team: Mavisa Sport Car: Peugeot 208 R2

“Rally Liep?ja is a nice event with very beautiful stages. I did the rally last year in autumn and this year it will be in spring. I think it’s even better for the spectators because the weather may be warmer. Our first event of the season didn’t go well after two punctures and hopefully we can make it better this time. We will make a one-day test with Mavisa Sport and let’s see if we can find a good set-up for the race.”

Gregor Jeets (EST) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Kuldar Sikk (EST) Team: Estonian Autosport Junior Team Car: Ford Fiesta R2T

“It’s my debut in the ERC so it’s my first big event. In fact, I have only done seven rallies and the two rallies I have done this year were winter rallies. Before rallying I did five years in karting in Estonia, Finland and Europe and I also did the world championship for one year. My father Raul Jeets did the ERC so rallying is in my family. Also when you have Ott Tänak and Markko Märtin coming from your country you realise everything is possible. I am getting support from the Estonian Autosport Union, it’s new for this year but to have this support is a very good feeling.”

Kristóf Klausz (HUN) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Ágnes Farnadi (HUN) Team: Klaus Motorsport Car: Peugeot 208 R2

“I know Rally Liep?ja really well, this will be my sixth time, so we will try to finish on the podium. I really love the speed of the stages and after not being able to show the speed in Gran Canaria, I am really waiting for Rally Liep?ja. I really like the speed and the fast corners. I will do my best.”

Efrén Llarena (ESP) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Sara Fernández (ESP) Team: Rally Team Spain Car: Peugeot 208 R2

“It’s going to be a very difficult rally for me. I did the recce last year but really it’s a completely new rally for me because I have never driven on these very fast roads before and the first time will be in the Free Practice. It won’t be easy but I will do the best I can to score as many points as possible.”

Elias Lundberg (SWE) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: David Arhusiander (SWE) Team: ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team Car: Opel ADAM R2

“My co-driver David and I are really looking forward to Rally Liep?ja. It feels good to be back on gravel after the trouble-filled rally in Gran Canaria. I know the ADAC Opel Rallye Team has the right knowledge and will to win. Our ADAM R2 is strong and has proved to be fast on gravel in the past. This leaves it up to us in the car to perform on top. This year’s competition in the FIA ERC3 Junior Championship is extremely hard and a lot of the drivers have been to Liep?ja before so we need to do our best from the preparation of the rally until the last stage. We had a good start on gravel in the Azores so I hope we can fight for the podium again in Latvia.”

Grégoire Munster (BEL) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Louis Louka (BEL) Team: ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team Car: Opel ADAM R2

“After our good appearance in Gran Canaria I am very much looking forward to those super-fast Latvian gravel stages. Even if we didn’t have the opportunity to reduce our lack of experience on this surface very much in the Azores, my co-driver Louis and I will give all we have to clinch a good result again in Liep?ja. So gaining speed and confidence on gravel will be the main objective during our next ERC Junior adventure! I am confident that together with our great boys from the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team we will be able to reduce the gap to the fastest guys in the extremely competitive ERC3 Junior Championship.”

Steve Røkland (NOR) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Marius Fuglerud (NOR) Team: Steve Røkland Motorsport Car: Peugeot 208 R2

“I am back in my Peugeot for this rally but I’ve had this car since 2014 so I have lots of experience and hopefully it will be fast enough to challenge for my first win. The roads have quite a similar surface to what we have in Norway, just a bit softer. I’d not driven my Peugeot for six or seven months but we had a short test in Norway, not too many runs but enough to be ready for the rally.”

Roman Schwedt (DEU) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Lina Meter (DEU) Team: Team ROMO Car: Peugeot 208 R2

“I’ve seen the videos and it looks really, really fast, not so many jumps but the speeds look like they will be really, really high. To me it looks really crazy to drive a car on gravel roads that are so fast but I have two days of testing to get the feeling with the car on gravel. I’ve not had such good luck this season but that’s rally.”

Petr Semerád (CZE) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Ji?í Hlávka (CZE) Team: ACCR Czech Rally Team Car: Peugeot 208 R2

“This will be my first gravel rally in my career and I hope it will be a successful one. We went to Liep?ja last year for the ERC Junior Experience training programme and did a small test and the recce. It was quite nice and at least I know how the roads look, very fast, quite wide and I like that.”

Roland Stengg (AUT) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Alessandra Baumann (DEU) Team: Stengg Motorsport Car: Opel ADAM R2

“Rally Liep?ja is my favourite gravel event of the season. The wide and fast roads are fun and challenging. The goal for us is to get under one second per kilometre to the top guys which is extremely hard because of their experience on the surface. Unfortunately, we can’t test before so our first metres will be the Free Practice on Friday.”

Ken Torn (EST) ERC3 Junior
Co-driver: Kauri Pannas (EST) Team: Estonian Autosport Junior Team Car: Ford Fiesta R2T

“I’ve not done this rally before but I think the stages will be similar to what we have in south Estonia. My aim is to prepare well, to finish the rally and to enjoy the weekend. For sure we want a good result and the new Fiesta is a very good R2 car, I enjoy it a lot and it’s a good step up from the previous Fiesta. I don’t know many of the drivers but I do know Jean-Baptiste Franceschi because we competed together in the world championship last season.”

ERC event preview: Rally Liepaja

Posted: May 21, 2019 6:53 AM

One of the fastest and most spectacular rallies on the schedule awaits the FIA European Rally Championship crews when Rally Liep?ja hosts the third round of the all-action 2019 ERC season and the second event to count for the all-new Abarth Rally Cup. Forty-five crews will chase ERC points on the high-speed Latvian event from 24-26 May, with a record 23 eligible for ERC Junior to underline the championship’s ongoing efforts to provide a platform of progression for young talents from national level aiming for the top of the sport. Early title pacesetter ?ukasz Habaj heads the overall list for the Latvia-based Sports Racing Technologies operation, which expands to a two-car attack with the inclusion of teenage hope Oliver Solberg. Petter Solberg’s son is seeded number 10, one place ahead of hometown hero Ma?rtin?š Sesks, taking part in one of two prize drives as his reward for winning the ERC3 Junior title in 2018. Chris Ingram, the ERC1 Junior leader after two rounds, is the second seed followed by double ERC Junior title winner Marijan Griebel. Defending ERC champion Alexey Lukyanuk is the fifth seed for what will be a wide-open battle for victory. ERC2 has a season-high eight entrants, including three drivers from the new-for-2019 Abarth Rally Cup, while Efrén Llarena, leader of the Pirelli-supported ERC3 Junior category, tops a 19-strong ERC3 line-up. Aside from the exciting entry, Rally Liep?ja has undergone significant changes for its seventh consecutive ERC appearance. Moving from October to May, Rally Liep?ja’s opening leg on Saturday 25 May is based around Talsi, which has allowed organisers to include what are described as Latvia’s ‘golden fund’ of stages, before reverting to more traditional territory for the closing leg on Sunday 26 May. This year’s Rally Liep?ja coincides with the annual FIA Volunteers Weekend and ERC drivers will be celebrating those who give up their time for free to help make motorsport events happen.

Rally Liep?ja in 100 words
The brainchild of driver turned promoter Raimonds Strokšs and first run to great acclaim in 2013, Rally Liep?ja was originally a winter event but switched to autumn for 2016 to ensure more guaranteed weather. The new date effectively made for an all-new rally as crews adjusted to gravel stages free of snow and ice. Although the time of year had changed, the high-speed stages in western Latvia continued to thrill drivers and spectators alike. For autumn read late spring in 2019 as this forward-thinking event moves to late May and an expanded route with stages in the Talsi region too.

What’s new for 2019?
While Liep?ja remains the event’s hub, the stages will cover a much wider area than ever before with roads around Talsi to the north included for the first time. A move forwards from October to May is the other big change for 2019.

Changes to the ERC include the renaming of the ERC Junior categories: ERC Junior Under 28 becomes ERC1 Junior, ERC Junior U27 becomes ERC3 Junior with continued support from Pirelli. Meanwhile, R4-K and RGT cars are eligible for ERC2 points, the Abarth Rally Cup will be contested over six ERC rounds, while Rally Hungary joins the calendar for the first time as the deciding round in November.

Talking points
*The top-three seeds – ?ukasz Habaj, Chris Ingram and Marijan Griebel – all have Rally Liep?ja podium pedigree to count, while Habaj’s team – Sports Racing Technologies – has won the last three editions.
*Alexey Lukyanuk signalled his arrival on the international stage with a giant-killing performance on the first Rally Liep?ja in 2013. Now driving a Saintéloc Junior Team Citroën C3 R5, the Russian is desperately searching for points in order to get his faltering ERC title defence back on track.
*Eyvind Brynildsen’s most recent Rally Liep?ja last October ended in spectacular fashion when he crashed out of the podium fight on the final day. He joins Chris Ingram and Cypriot Rally Liep?ja rookie Alexandros Tsouloftas in driving a ŠKODA Fabia R5 for the expanded Toksport WRT squad.
*Unable to include Rally Liep?ja on his 2018 ERC schedule, MOL Racing Team’s four-time Hungarian champion Norbert Herczig is a newcomer to the Latvian stages in his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
*Japanese promise Hiroki Arai begins his ERC campaign with Manfred Stohl’s STARD operation. He will drive a Citroën C3 R5, also the car of choice for Sweden’s Mattias Adielsson.
*Czech federation-backed hope Filip Mareš begins his 2019 ERC1 Junior bid in Latvia and is set to impress following a learning campaign last season.
*Brazil’s Paulo Nobre returns to European action following a hectic three weeks, which has included contesting the two South American rounds of the world championship either side of Rally Islas Canarias.
*Lithuanian Vaidotas Žala is new to the ERC in Latvia, as is Saudi promise Rakan Al-Rashed. Both will drive ŠKODA Fabia R5s.
*ERC2 champion Tibor Érdi Jr (Hungarian) returns to the scene of his step up to R5 level, while Russian Artur Muradian makes his R5 debut having competed in ERC3 in the past. Albert von Thurn und Taxis will make his long-awaited debut in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
*Former ERC Junior star and Rally Liep?ja winner Ralfs Sirmacis is back on European duty in the ERC2 division where his opposition includes Zelindo Melegari, Sergey Remennik, Vytautas Švedas and Kuwaiti newcomer Mshari Althefiril.
*World Rallycross ace Reinis Nitišs (Latvia) joins the Abarth Rally Cup ranks, which include Dariusz Polo?ski (Poland) and Andrea Nucita (Italy). Abarth Rally Cup drivers are eligible for ERC2 points.
*The popularity of ERC3 is once again proven with 19 entrants including Peugeot Rally Academy duo Yohan Rossel and Catie Munnings, plus American ex-sportscar racer Sean Johnston.
*Of those 19, 16 are eligible for the Pirelli-supported ERC3 Junior category, which is led by Rally Team Spain’s Efrén Llarena and FPAK Portugal Team ERC’s Pedro Antunes, who joins Rally Islas Canarias class winner Jean-Baptiste Franceschi (France) in relying on Ford Fiesta R2T power. An ERC Junior preview will be issued separately.

Expert views
Jean-Baptiste Franceschi (France) Ford Fiesta R2T: “It’s a very special event, especially for me because I’m really not used to the fast roads we will find. I know it won’t be easy to be in front of the other drivers but we will prepare as well as we can. Thanks to M-Sport I will do two days of testing, which will be perfect for me to help me learn. The objective is to be in the fight for the victory but let’s see.”

Marijan Griebel (Germany), Baumschlager Rallye & Racing ŠKODA Fabia R5:
“I have vivid memories from Rally Liep?ja, having competed there three times. Unfortunately, my first two attempts, when this was a winter rally, resulted in two of my largest crashes. That is all in the past, though, and I have warm memories of the last time I competed in Liep?ja. In 2016, I was fighting for the ERC Junior title, and I needed to win in order to become champion. At the end, that is what I did, winning by a few seconds. It all could have ended differently, but I had become champion! That is still one of the best days in my career, something that I will always remember.”

?ukasz Habaj (Poland) Sports Racing Technologies ŠKODA Fabia R5:
“I’m very happy to be leading the championship, the car, the team, the tyres have been working well and we have been improving all the time. We’ve had the consistency and the pace but the pace is high and the competition is tight. Being on top of the leaderboard makes me really happy and, to be honest, my confidence is good. We know Rally Liep?ja quite well, I have been there three times and my performance is usually quite good. It was one of my first rallies with the ŠKODA last year and we were fighting for the podium on the first day. Also the team’s knowledge of the stages will help.”

Reinis Nitišs (Latvia) Milano Racing Abarth 124 rally:
“I am anxiously awaiting Rally Liep?ja, which promises to be fast, technical and filled with intrigue. I am ready for a completely new and unexpected challenge in a car that is a bit unusual and rarely seen in Latvia – the rear-wheel-drive Abarth 124 rally. It’s an Italian car serviced by a French team, and we plan to have one test day before the rally. My only experience competing with rear-wheel drive comes from karting, buggy and races in the LADA Cup, so testing will be very important. It will also be a chance to get up to speed with my new co-driver, the experienced M?ris Kulšs.”

M?rti?š Sesks (Latvia) LMT Autosporta Akade?mija ŠKODA Fabia R5:
“Our season has started not very good so it will be a big pleasure and very nice to do my home rally in a top-spec car. For sure it’s a different car, but it’s a good opportunity to show our speed again. I hope to have good feelings with the car and with my self-confidence following the tests. They are the main goals. The result is not main thing – we need to get our confidence to drive a top-spec car on these very fast roads.”

Head to head: Sesks v Solberg
Teenage talents M?rti?š Sesks and Oliver Solberg start Rally Liep?ja with a clear shared objective in mind: to build experience in R5 machinery. For 19-year-old Sesks, his home event marks his debut in a top-of-the range car, one of two prize drives from promoter Eurosport Events for winning the ERC3 Junior crown in 2018. Seventeen-year-old Solberg is tackling his first gravel event in his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 having won the two snow rallies he’s tackled in the German machine. While both drivers insist results are secondary to gaining knowledge, Rally Liep?ja nevertheless represents a gilt-edged opportunity for the exciting young pair to impress on an international stage.

Form guide: Efrén Llarena
The Rally Team Spain prospect is playing the title game. After winning ERC3 Junior in the Azores, Llarena settled for a podium on Rally Islas Canarias rather than risk all for a second win. And the approach is paying off as he prepares for his first Rally Liep?ja, although he did complete the recce last October.

How to follow?
On TV and online: Live coverage of selected stages on Facebook. Daily highlights on Eurosport and YouTube. ERC All Access on Eurosport on 28 May. Event highlights broadcast around the world.
Videos, news update and live timing: Available at FIAERC.com
ERC Radio: Live from the end of all stages and selected service park visits. Available at FIAERC.com or download the official ERC App
Social media: Follow the ERC on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Don’t miss! ERC Junior champion Sesks in home prize drive R5 debut
M?rti?š Sesks will make his debut in an R5 car on his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship as the first of two prize drives for winning the ERC3 Junior crown in 2018. Teen talent Sesks, 19, had been due to take up his first prize drive on Rally Islas Canarias, but submitted a request to ERC promoter Eurosport Events to switch the Spanish asphalt event to his home rally. The request also required the approval of partner team Motorsport Italia but was swiftly approved. The second prize drive, planned for July’s Rally di Roma Capitale, is unaffected by the change of events. Sesks, who is from Liep?ja and is the son of the city’s mayor Uldis Sesks, an ex-rally driver, will pilot a Pirelli-equipped ŠKODA Fabia R5.

Abarth Rally Cup continues on Rally Liep?ja
The Abarth Rally Cup, which began on Rally Islas Canarias, runs in conjunction with the FIA European Rally Championship in 2019, bringing together the hugely exciting one-make series and the leading regional competition promoted by Eurosport Events under a long-term agreement with motorsport’s world governing body. Contested over six rounds of the eight-event ERC, the Abarth Rally Cup is open to competitors using the enhanced-for-2019 Abarth 124 rally, the lightweight, rear-wheel-drive Italian sportscar, which conforms to the FIA’s R-GT category technical regulations. And following the FIA World Motor Sport Council’s decision on 5 December to allow R-GT cars to take part in the revitalised ERC2 category, Abarth Rally Cup drivers are eligible for points in the popular showroom class, while also chasing an attractive round-by-round and end-of-season prize fund. On each round the following prize fund is offered: First position: €12,000; Second position: €10,000; Third position: €8,000; Fourth position: €4,000 plus four Pirelli tyres. At the end of the season the Abarth Rally Cup winner receives a final prize of €30,000. Reinis Nitišs, Dariusz Polo?ski and Andrea Nucita are in contention for Abarth Rally Cup honours on Rally Liep?ja.

ERC drivers support FIA Volunteers Weekend
Drivers from the FIA European Rally Championship will support the 2019 FIA Volunteers Weekend on Rally Liep?ja. Taking place from 24-26 May, the FIA Volunteers Weekend celebrates those who dedicate their time to make motorsport possible around the world. Capitalising on a busy weekend of FIA competition, 10 race events will raise awareness and give thanks to the volunteers who carry out the wide variety of essential roles without which motorsport would simply not happen. Throughout the weekend, the entire motorsport community – from volunteers and officials to fans, drivers and members of the media – are encouraged to join in and show their appreciation on social media. Using the hashtag #FIAVolunteersWeekend on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, people can share photos and stories of themselves in action over the two days, connecting motorsport volunteers at all levels from all around the world – from club events to world championships. FIA President, Jean Todt, said: “Volunteers are the unsung heroes of motorsport. Without them, quite simply, we would not be able to go racing. It is important for the FIA to recognise their vital contribution, and the occasion of the Volunteers Weekend shines the spotlight on their hard work and dedication to ensuring the safety and success of events the world over. This is also an opportunity to promote the positive benefits that volunteers gain from their involvement, and help attract new people to motorsport.”

Five facts:
1: Rally Liep?ja ran for the first time in 2013 with Jari Ketomaa/Kaj Lindström taking victory in a Ford Fiesta RRC. It was the first and only year the really finished in Ventspils, up the Baltic coast.
2: In recent years, Rally Liep?ja has formed part of the Festival of Speed Kurzeme, which brings speedboat racing to the city’s Tirdzniec?bas canal, plus other motorised attractions to the local area.
3: Two former Liep?ja winners, Craig Breen and Esapekka Lappi, have both gone on to secure factory drives in the World Rally Championship.
4: Nikolay Gryazin is the event’s youngest winner, taking top spot in 2017 one day after turning 20.
5: Liep?ja can claim to be the only Latvian city outside the capital Riga to offer air, land and sea transport options, while its city mayor, Uldis Sesks, is a former rally driver of note and father of M?rti?š Sesks, the 2018 FIA ERC Junior U27 and ERC3 champion.

Seeded Entry List

Posted: May 21, 2019 6:49 AM

Rally Guide / Event Website

Posted: March 5, 2019 5:48 AM

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