October 14, 2018
Rally Liepāja concluded today in Dinsdurbe, Paplaka, Vecpils and Podnieki, serving as the final round of the FIA European Rally Championship and Latvian Rally Championship seasons. Sports Racing Technologies driver Nikolay Gryazin managed to hold onto his lead, winning the Junior U28 title and finishing runner-up in the overall standings of the European championship. Today’s Latvian Rally Championship round was won by Eurolamp World Rally Team driver Valerii Gorban.
Nikolay Gryazin, competing with a Latvian Automobile Federation issued licence, had earned a nineteen second lead on day one. By winning three of six stages, he managed to further increase that lead today, beating Chris Ingram (TOKSPORT WRT) by 43.3 seconds. The battle for third place, between Fredrik Ahlin and Fabian Kreim (Skoda Auto Deutschland) was especially close. Kreim began the day in front, but Ahlin had overtaken him after two stages. After that, Kreim got back in third place, but it was not meant to be – on one of the corners of SS12 LIEPĀJA, he ran wide and got off the road. Incredibly, the German managed to avoid crashing, but Ahlin’s great pace gave him a stage win and the third place in the event.
Nikolay Gryazin: “I am thrilled about how the season concluded, we managed to enjoy this event. I would like to thank my team, the organizers, my co-driver and everyone who helped. This was an incredible journey. I would also like to thank the other competitors who were very quick and kept on improving as the rally went on. I could drive quickly as I am very familiar with gravel roads like these. The average speed was very high here, so the cars did not matter as much as the ability to be brave.”
Being fastest on both days gives Gryazin the maximum of 39 points for this event. With that, Alexey Lukyanuk is the European Champion (150 points), with Gryazin (129 points) moving up to second place and Bruno Magalhaes (115 points) completing the podium.
Gryazin has also become the ERC Junior U28 champion. There, the four best results in six rounds count towards the championship. Gryazin arrived in Liepāja with tree victories – in the Canary Islands, Czech Republic and Poland – and beat his main rivals Chris Ingram and Fabian Kreim on the Kurzeme roads this weekend as well, completing a near perfect season.
Chris Ingram: “We are happy with our result this season. Gryazin was extremely quick in every event, so I would like to thank them for the great competition and congratulate them with the title. We have learned a lot. There were both highs and lows. Ross (co-driver Ross Whittock) and the whole team have done a fantastic job. I hope that we can continue our progress, as we are currently struggling with putting together a budget for the future. We have been working very hard and spending lots of energy, so it is a bit disappointing to come away empty-handed. I am not sure what we will do next year. Nevertheless – this was a perfect rally and I hope to return here next year.”
Fredrik Ahlin: “The battle was incredibly close. Heading out to the final stages, we were neck and neck. Yesterday, we only managed to show our true pace in the afternoon, so I was a bit worried heading into today. I got into a very good rhythm with my co-driver. Even though we went wide in one of the corners of the penultimate stage, we found the necessary pace in the final three stages to regain all our lost time. I knew that we must win the final stage to get on the podium and that is what we did. We had to risk quite a bit, but it was well worth it – we are happy to finish third.”
Russian Performance Motorsport driver Sergei Remennik was victorious in ERC2 class, despite running into issues with power steering in the morning.
ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team driver Tom Kristensson gave a great birthday gift to his co-driver Henrik Appelskog by winning the ERC3 class. On day two, the Swede was just two seconds quicker than his teammate Mārtiņš Sesks, but the lead gained on day one helped guarantee his second victory of the season. Despite that, this year’s ERC3 title was won by the second place finished Mārtiņš Sesks, with Miika Hokkanen completing the podium. ERC Junior U27 battles concluded with an identical top three, with Sesks claiming the title in the previous round in Poland.
Mārtiņš Sesks: “We were not able to show the expected pace, but have still managed to win the ERC3 title, after claiming the Junior U27 title in the previous round, and have also become Latvian champions for the third time. Our season’s goals have been fulfilled and all the hard work has paid off. I would like to thank my team, all my supporters, and, of course, my team and co-driver who drove me to these results. It is a fantastic feeling. Various reasons prevented us from being competitive from the first stages, but we improved our pace with each stage. By the end, we showed that we are capable of fighting for a win. Starting from next week, we will begin work on the plans for 2019.”
Rally Liepāja winner Nikolay Gryazin also won the Liepājas Speciālā Ekonomiskā Zona special prize, given to the crew that jumps the farthest on the Stroķacs jump of SS10 Port of Liepāja. Sports Racing Tehnologies crew managed to jump 35 metres. Gryazin also claimed the Sixt special prize for setting the quickest total time in SS8/9 Sixt rent a car. Meanwhile, the Liepāja city special prize for the fastest time in SS12 Liepāja went to Swedish driver Fredrik Ahlin.
Nikolay Gryazin and Yaroslav Fedorov were also fastest in today’s Latvian Rally Championship round. Valerii Gorban, driving a BMW-Mini John Cooper Works WRC car, was second, 1 minute and 8.9 seconds behind, with this result being enough to win the title in the overall classification, as the championship leader Ranno Bundsen retired after crashing on the last stage.
Bundsen’s crash opened the door for championship runner-up Edijs Bergmanis to win the LRČ1 class. Meanwhile, LRČ2 class was won by Emīls Blūms, who was 41.6 seconds quicker than Reinis Nitišs.
Liepāja native Mārtiņš Sesks won today to claim the LRČ3 title. After a very close battle in the sixth round of the Latvian Rally Championship, both youngsters had a close battle on Sunday as well. After three stages, just 0.2 seconds separated Solberg and Sesks, but Solberg had to retire on the penultimate stage due to an engine issue.
Ingus Pantelis won the LRČ4 class today, earning his second win of the season, after also winning Rally Talsi. This rally turned out to be very demanding for LRČ6 class cars, with just two out of five crews reaching the finish. Uldis Lepiksons in a Ford Puma beat Rico Rodi from Estonia.
Meanwhile, the Alexander Karamishev travelling trophy, given out to the fastest crew on the final gravel stage of the Latvian Rally Championship season, was won by Nikolay Gryazin for the second year in a row.
On the first stage of the Historic Sport class, the favourites Māris Egle and Andris Egle ran into an issue with their Audi 80 Quattro. Winning three of the four stages, the class was won by Gintars Ozoliņš and Kārlis Roziņš in a Toyota Corolla. Normunds Otomers and Dāvis Arājs in an Opel Ascona were second, 1 minute and 3.1 seconds behind the winners.
©Pony & Smith
Historic car regularity rally was won by Normunds Kalvāns / Ingus Mikuda in a Saab 96, beating the Opel Ascona of Elmārs Tikums / Arnis Modris. Third place was earned by Krišjānis Oskerko / Maksis Gauja in a GAZ 21.
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.
More information about the FIA European Rally Championship and its results is available HERE.
More information about the Latvian Rally Championship and its results is available HERE.