Latvia will host the FIA European Rally Championship event for the next three years – this is envisaged by the agreement between the organizer of the Championship - Eurosport Events - and the rally organizer RA EVENTS. In the FIA European Rally Championship calendar of the season 2014 for Latvia the second round – Rally Liepāja - is envisaged to be held from 31st January till 2nd February in the Liepāja and Kuldīga neighborhood.
Photo: Jānis Asaris
On February 2013 Latvia had a unique possibility to host one round of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) that has taken over the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and has become a prestigious rally series with vast publicity and strong sportive contents. After the successfully organized Rally Liepāja-Ventspils, whose organizing quality has been positively evaluated by prominent motorsports personalities, the company RA EVENTS was offered a possibility to continue organizing one round of the ERC in Latvia for the next three years – till the season 2016. This possibility has been highly evaluated also by State of Latvia that for the next three years has allocated financing for costs related with coverage of the participation (licence) fee established by the ERC organizers.
“I am satisfied, that work contributed at the beginning of the year in relation with organization of Rally Liepāja-Ventspils has borne fruit, and today I can announce that also in the next three years we will organize in Latvia a single round of one of the most remarkable rally series in the world. Eurosport Events and RA EVENTS highly value support given by the government and local governments, however we continue to work on attraction of co-operation partners, as without their help a rally event of such scale is unimaginable,” tells the organizer of the Rally Liepāja Raimonds Strokšs. “Next year the competition between crews will take place in the Liepāja and Kuldīga neighborhood, and in the routing of the Rally Liepāja we plan to include both the classical stages and completely new roads.”
Photo: Jānis Asaris
It is envisaged that the ERC season in 2014 will include 12 rounds, and the season will be divided in two parts – first and last six rounds; the total valuation of the Championship will be established by the four best results of each part. The 1st round of the Championship Jänner Rallye will be held from 3rd till 5th January in Austria; it will be followed by Rally Liepāja from 31st January till 2nd February. It is planned that after the Latvian round of the Championship another winter round will follow, and together the three rounds could compose a special Winter Challenge.
“We are delighted to have concluded a three-year agreement with Rally Liepāja to form part of the FIA European Rally Championship from 2014 onwards. When the promoter, Raimonds Strokšs, approached us about joining the ERC, his plan was for a summer or spring rally. We asked him to deliver a winter rally instead and not only did he and his team do this with Rally Liepāja-Ventspils 2013, they did it super well. In only a few months Raimonds, who is a young guy, managed to get the government, two cities and sponsors around the table, which is something I rarely see. After the rally I sat down with Raimonds and said to him that if he could get a three-year commitment from his partners then he would get a three-year commitment from us. That’s what he did so we had no reason to refuse him a contract. It gives the event stability and a long period to build up something even bigger. Not only does this rally have a perfect fit as a winter event, the energy Raimonds puts into the event and the professionalism are key factors that will make Rally Liepāja something unique over the next three years. I have no doubt about this,” François Ribeiro, Motorsport Development Director, Eurosport Events.
„Liepāja has long-standing motorsports traditions, and we can be proud that for a second year in a row we will host in our city one round of the European Rally Championship. It will be a great challenge for Liepāja to welcome European level competitors, but at the same time it will also be an invaluable gain, as it not only will bring to Liepāja motorsports enthusiasts, but also will ensure that the name of Liepāja will be highlighted in the Eurosport broadcasts in 59 countries all around the world. I hope that the ERC round Rally Liepāja will be another step closer to the vision that one day Liepāja will host a round of the World Rally Championship,” Uldis Sesks, the Chairman of the Liepāja City Council.
Foto: Aigars Tīdmanis
Rally Liepāja will allow to establish not only the winners of the 2nd round of the ERC season, but also the winners of the first two rounds of the Latvian Rally Championship (LRC) 2014. The provisional routing map of the rally envisages that the competition with the total distance of 236 km in the Liepāja and Kuldīga neighborhood will start on the Friday afternoon, when the crews will have to cover the first four stages. On Saturday five stages are envisaged, after which the winners of the 1st LRC round will be established. However, on Sunday, the 3rd rally day, five concluding stages of Rally Liepāja are envisaged followed by awarding of the winners of the 2nd stages of both the European and Latvian Rally Championships.