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Rally Liepāja begins with qualifying stage, drivers parade and an exciting opening ceremony

Liepāja, Latvia
October 12, 2018

Today in Liepāja, the FIA European Rally Championship and Latvian Rally Championship round Rally Liepāja officially began. Nikolay Gryazin, competing with a Latvian Automobile Federation licence, won the qualifying stage, while Brazilian Paulo Nobre will be first on road on Saturday’s stages.

©Ronalds Sirba

This afternoon’s qualifying stage in Dunalka gave us the first look into the potential speed of FIA European Rally Championship drivers. There, last year’s winner Nikolay Gryazin was quickest. Among the battle between three Škoda Fabia R5 cars, the Sports Racing Technologies driver was nearly a second ahead of Fredrik Ahlin and Chris Ingram (TOKSPORT WRT) who is one of Gryazin’s main rivals in the battle for the ERC Junior U28 title. Another title contender, Fabian Kreim (Skoda Auto Deutschland) was sixth, behind Filip Mareš (ACCR Czech Rally Team) and Eyvind Brynildsen.

Nikolay Gryazin: “I am excited before this rally, as this is the last event of the season. We need to earn as many points as possible to fight in the European Championship standings. However, before thinking about the highest results, we first have to reach the finish. Even though the Latvian roads are familiar to me, there are still lots of unknowns with this Škoda Fabia R5, despite us feeling confident in our abilities!”

©Ronalds Sirba

Chris Ingram: “It is great to return here. Last year, we won the ERC3 and ERC Junior U27 titles here in Liepāja. This weekend, we expect a big fight, as lots of drivers are extremely quick. In rally, you can never know what will happen. I did not expect to win the title last year. After the recce, I can say that the stages look great, and it is really fun to drive at the speeds we will be doing. We will be setting off in a good mood.”

Fabian Kreim: “The weather is great and the stages are very fast, so we are enjoying this week. Qualifying stage went well, with a sixth best time. There is no way to beat Nikolay in a straight battle this year. I hope to be able to fight with Chris, despite him being faster in qualifying. We will try to improve stage by stage.”

Starting from the shakedown, the two ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team drivers, Mārtiņš Sesks and Tom Kristensson, were in an exciting battle in the ERC Junior U27 class. Liepāja native Sesks was quicker in qualifying, setting the twelfth quickest time, while his closest follower in ERC3 class was Sindre Furuseth, who was 2.6 seconds behind. Kristensson set the sixteenth best time, 2.9 seconds behind the Latvian driver.


Mārtiņš Sesks: “It is quite strange to return hope after a season where we have raced in such exotic locations as the Azores Islands. We have already earned the ERC Junior U27 title, but the fight in ERC3 class is still ahead of us. The season began with an incredible third place finish in the first round in Portugal, a result which we repeated in the Canary Islands. Afterwards, we did even better, before a fiasco in Poland. There, we drove at maximum pace, but crashed twice. It was definitely the worst racing weekend for us. However, we have gotten over it and are ready to fight for a victory here in Liepāja!”

In the evening, the first ever Rally Liepāja drivers parade took place on Liepāja city streets. There, spectators had a chance to see rally cars driving on Jūras street, by the Vecā Ostmala promenade, and doing a full circle at the roundabout by the Great Amber concert hall.

Rally Liepāja opening ceremony was made special with a performance by Dina Bruže dance studio Extra, Latvian anthem performed by Liepāja Music, Art and Design high school boys choir led by Ilze Balode, as well as by Normunds Karpičs, who performed the Liepāja city anthem. In addition to that, the opening ceremony contained a performance by Liepāja street gymnastics team Workout Generation. Most exciting part of the ceremony was provided by this year’s FIA European Rally Champion Alexey Lukyanuk, who did a guitar solo to The Queen song We are the Champions!

©Aigars Prūsis

Before the ceremonial start, the leading qualifying stage drivers, with Liepāja Folk Art and Culture centre child dance collective Krustiņi dancers in attendance, chose their start positions for Saturday’s stages. Nikolay Gryazin chose the twelfth starting position, and his closest rivals in qualifying followed a similar strategy, choosing the latest possible position, leaving Paulo Nobre with no options but to go first on the road on Saturday.

Reinis Nitišs: “I am not sure how good my past experience in rally is, but it is good that I have not crashed. Three years ago, I tried rally in a front-wheel drive car, thanks to an opportunity provided by Māris Neikšāns. Then we skipped a year, but Liepāja will be my third event of this year. We had exciting and close battles with our rivals in Talsi. Rally Estonia was very difficult – there were lots of difficult corners and I almost did not listen to my co-driver. This week, during recce, we did not have any problems. How will we do? That is something we will find out tomorrow. Our plans have changed this time, so we will be competing in the Latvian Championship.”

©Aigars Prūsis

Rally Liepāja consists of twelve special stages. The first half of those will be done on Saturday in Pērbone, Laidi, Upītes and Vilgāle. Along with the beginning of the FIA European Rally Championship round, the sixth round of the Latvian Rally Championship and Rallysprint will take place, with the European Championship round and Latvian Rally Championship season concluding on Sunday with the final six special stages.

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, Škoda, Ramirent, our partner LDz Cargo, official car rental Sixt and our supporters Liepājas Olimpiskais Centrs, LSEZ, and Swecon. Informative support is provided by news portal DELFI, as well as Kurzemes Radio, JCDecaux, Go4Speed, and Zebra. Rally Liepāja would also not be possible without our rally friends: Dardedze, Esi Draugs, Ezerkauliņi, Flora, FN Serviss, Fristads, Jānis Pūce, Liepājas Datoru Centrs, Red Bull, Rent a Display, SignTech, Sportland, Törley, and Venden. Rally Liepāja is realized with support by the regional councils of Aizpute, Durbe, Kuldīga, Priekule, Skrunda, and Vaiņode. A special thank you goes out to the Latvian Automobile Federation. Rally Liepāja is organized by RA EVENTS and Speed Festival Kurzeme.

Rally Liepāja tickets are available in all Biļešu Serviss locations as well as online HERE. A single ticket costs 25.00 EUR. Children up to 10 years of age and people with disabilities can attend the event free of charge. At the entrance of the stage, you will have to provide a valid document stating the age and/or disability.

Rally Liepāja spectators should remember that, before heading out to the stages, the tickets must be exchanged for wristbands – you will not be able to access the stages without a wristband. Information about the ticket exchange points is available on When exchanging the ticket for a wristband, you will also receive a spectator safety leaflet.

No.      Name                                                           Length       Date                Start time           

SSQS LATVIA-100 (Dunalka)                                3,02 km      12.10.2018     15:30            

SS1     NESTE 1 (Pērbone)                                    10,81 km    13.10.2018     10:00            

SS2     LDZ CARGO 1 (Laidi)                                 21,95 km    13.10.2018     10:30            

SS3     RAMIRENT (Upītes)                                   21,89 km    13.10.2018     11:50            

SS4     NESTE 2 (Pērbone)                                    10,81 km    13.10.2018     15:45            

SS5     LDZ CARGO 2 (Laidi)                                 21,95 km    13.10.2018     16:15            

SS6     ŠKODA (Vilgāle)                                         24,14 km    13.10.2018     17:35            

SS7     CANON BIZNESA CENTRS - IB SERVISS (Dinsdurbe)   6,53 km      14.10.2018     10:00            

SS8     SIXT rent a car 1 (Paplaka)                        18,35 km    14.10.2018     10:45            

SS9     SIXT rent a car 2 (Paplaka)                        18,35 km    14.10.2018     12:20            

SS10   PORT OF LIEPAJA (Vecpils)                     15,77 km    14.10.2018     14:50            

SS11   LOC (Podnieki)                                            10,29 km    14.10.2018     15:40            

SS12   LIEPĀJA (Vecpils)                                       24,99 km    14.10.2018     16:30            

All times are provisional and subject to change. Follow the latest information on or on Rally Liepāja social media accounts.

More information about the FIA European Rally Championship is available HERE.

More information about the Latvian Rally Championship is available HERE.