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Škoda Motorsport and Esapekka Lappi triumphs in Rally Liepāja

Sunday, February 2 saw the final day of the FIA European Rally Championship event Rally Liepāja. The rally was won by Škoda Motorsport crew Esapekka Lappi/ Janne Ferm (Škoda Fabia S2000), who gained lead over the second placed Vasily Gryazin/ Dmitry Chumak only during the second part of the day. Third place finish to Peugeot Rally Academy crew Craig Breen/ Scott Martin.

- Lappi/ Ferm (Aigars Tīdmanis,

Škoda Motorsport came to Latvia to start their 2014 campaign and defend the ERC Driver championship title earned year before. The strongest crew of the team Esapekka Lappi/ Janne Ferm managed to set fastest time on seven of the 12 special stages of the rally. “This was a great rally and good beginning of the season. Saturday was hard due to the deep snow, however, conditions like that makes you stay careful and avoid stupid mistakes,” Lappi said after the finish.

Despite various technical problems faced during the last special stages of the rally the 2nd position was reached by the Russian pilot racing under Latvian license Vasily Gryazin with co-driver Dmitry Chumak (Ford Fiesta S2000), who even took the leading position after the seventh special stage 1, totaling to 34,7 seconds at the rally finish. Moreover, Vasily Gryazin received Colin McRae Flat Out Trophy. “My dream has come true,” 20-year old Gryazin said about top achievement of his career after the finish. “Experience is growing and growing, but some lessons about driving on asphalt still should be learnt.”

- Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Vasily Gryazin (Aigars Tīdmanis,

Third place of Rally Liepāja to Peugeot Rally Academy crew with Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 207 S2000), who fell behind the winner by one minute and 36.8 seconds at the finish. Breen, who finished second a year before, was unable to find a tempo throughout the two days of competition. “The hardest winter rally I’ve ever experienced in my life,” said Breen, who turns 24 on Sunday. “I’ve never experienced anything like that before - as if I step into the rhythm, but then again the car hits me out of it. Snow is so deep that it is hard to drive. I don’t know what to do, I can’t drive any faster – every time I try to raise the speed, it ends up beyond the track. This is not my lucky day.

- Breen/ Martin (Aigars Tīdmanis,

Crew of the Czech National Team Jan Černy with co-driver Pavel Kohout (Peugeot 208) won the first round of the inaugural ERC Junior Championship leading ahead of their closest rival Risto Immonen/Mikko Lukka (Citroën C2) by 18.6 seconds at the finish. Third place was taken by Norwegian crew Petter Kristiansen/Ole Kristian Brennum (Škoda Fabia) falling behind the leader by 55.4 seconds at the finish.

Latvians Jānis Vorobjovs/Andris Mālnieks (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X) who showed stable performance on both days of the rally won Production cup competition and after default of the competitors took a safe victory. Whereas, among the front-wheel drive cars the fourth quickest time was produced by the pilot of LMT Autosporta Akadēmija Ralfs Sirmacis falling from the group’s leader by 1:10.3.

Second round of Latvian Rally Championship also took place simultaneously on Sunday.

Convincing victory in R5 group was celebrated by Vasily Gryazin, however, the second place was shared by two crews – Travniko/Bashmakov (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) and Martynas Samuitis/ Ramūnas Šaučikovas (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X).

Two crews finished in N4 group with Vorobjovs/Mālnieks as the fastest one leading ahead Aleksey Mersiyanovu/Georgy Troshkin (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X) by 56.5 seconds.

Three crews finished in R2 group with champion of Latvian rally Sirmacis/ Kulšs as the fastest one. Second place for Nauris Bruņinieks/Edgars Grīns, but third – Kristaps Feldmanis/Andris Velme.