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Rally Liepaja talking points

Rally Liepaja talking points

17.05.2019: Rally Liepaja, Latvia FIA European Rally Championship round 3 of 8* 24-26th May 2019 *The top-three seeds – Lukasz Habaj, Chris Ingram

Rally Liepāja, Latvia
FIA European Rally Championship round 3 of 8*
24-26th May 2019





*The top-three seeds – Łukasz Habaj, Chris Ingram and Marijan Griebel – all have Rally Liepāja 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 Liepāja 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 Liepāja 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 Liepāja rookie Alexandros Tsouloftas in driving a ŠKODA Fabia R5 for the expanded Toksport WRT squad.


*Unable to include Rally Liepāja 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 Liepāja 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 Poloński (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.






Five facts:




1: Rally Liepāja 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 Liepāja has formed part of the Festival of Speed Kurzem, which brings speedboat racing to the city’s Tirdzniecības canal, plus other motorised attractions to the local area.


3: Two former Liepāja 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: Liepāja 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 Mārtiņš Sesks, the 2018 FIA ERC Junior U27 and ERC3 champion.





 Richard Rodgers, photo FIA ERC

     


 

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17.05.2019 / MaP

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