FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) second event Rally Liepāja qualification stage fastest time was set by Alexey Lukyanuk and co-driver Yevhen Chervonenko (Ford Fiesta R5), who were just 0.05 seconds faster than Craig Breen and Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16). Winners of the Austrian rally, Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Jaroslaw Baran (Ford Fiesta R5), set the third fastest time, 1.52 seconds behind Lukyanuk.
- Alexey Lukyanuk / Yevhen Chervonenko, Rally Liepāja 2015 (©FIAERC.COM)
The 15 fastest drivers of qualification stage took part in choosing the road position for the first day. Krisztian Hideg and István Kerék will be the first crew to tackle the morning loop, while the qualification winners chose a road position as far back as possible. Lukyanuk will start 15th, Breen 14th and Kajetanowicz will be 13th on the road.
“It is possible that being 15th on the road will be an advantage in terms of better grip, but this will also mean that the tires will wear faster, making us slower at the later stages. This is just the second rally for me and my co-driver, the car is also completely new to us, so there is still a lot to learn. Nevertheless, I feel very good on these roads and hope to be very fast,” said Lukyanuk after the qualification stage.
Mārtiņš Svilis and Ivo Pūķis (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X) were the fastest Latvian crew and took 7th place, while last year’s Latvian N4 class champions, Jānis Vorobjovs and Andris Mālnieks (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X), were just 43rd.
“Our goal was to be slow in qualifying so that we can have a later starting position on Saturday – those who start at the front will have snow on the road and likely lose some time,” described Vorobjovs.
In ERC Junior, the three time Latvian R2 class champion Ralfs Sirmacis with co-driver Artūrs Šimins (Peugeot 208 R2) were the fastest, beating the second fastest crew, Aleks Zawada and Cathy Derousseaux (Opel Adam R2), by 3.8 seconds. Sirmacis actually managed to set the 13th fastest time overall, and will be fourth on the road Saturday. Third place in ERC Junior was taken by Guillaume de Mevius and Geoffrey Brion (Peugeot 208 R2).
The 2014 World Rallycross Championship bronze medalist in Supercar class, Reinis Nitišs (co-driven by Māris Neikšāns) was also very fast in his first competitive stage. Driving a Ford Fiesta R2 prepared by Sports Racing Technologies, Nitišs set the fifth fastest time in ERC3 class.
First stage of Rally Liepāja will begin at 11:30 on Saturday, February 7. Throughout the day, crews will have to tackle five stages with a total distance of 114 kilometers. The first day of competition will officially end at 19:35 in Rose square (Liepāja), with an awards ceremony for the winners of Latvian Rally Championship second event.
The FIA European Rally Championship event Rally Liepāja is possible because of the support of the government of Latvia and the rally city Liepāja. We would also like to thank our sponsors Neste Oil, Sporta bārs Optibet and Vivus.lv, and our partners – the city of Kuldīga, rally center at Liepājas Olimpiskais Centrs and rally insurer BTA – as well as our supporters Canon ibServiss Liepāja, SweCon, Baltijas Helikopters and Castrol. Information about the rally is available on the official news portal DELFI, rally radio StarFM, as well as Top Gear Latvija, Kurzemes radio, Ātruma Cilts and Rietumu Radio. We would also like to thank the valuable support by Rally Liepāja friends at: Ramirent, RedBull, Dardedze, Torley, Jānis Pūce, Ecorent, Guard Systems, N&J, Kurši, FN Serviss, Liepājas Datoru Centrs, SignTech, Sidusnet, Aspasia, Skrīveru Saldumi and Grandeg.