Despite the fact that the Rally Liepaja Ceremonial start ended last night, today, on Saturday, the actual start at the special stages has been given and the race has finally begun.
By the third stage of the FIA European Championship quite strong young drivers have joined the fight, and several crews have been fighting for leadership on the tracks of Latvia today.
Latvian Martins Sesks, Briton Chris Ingram, Japanese Hiroki Arai, Russian Alexey Lukyanuk and Norwegian Oliver Solberg. Of the 50 crews that has started in the FIA European Championship, it is these five drivers who have challenged each other for a second today, constantly changing on the first position after each special stage.
Young Oliver Solberg applied for leadership at the very first special stage of the day. The son of Petter Solberg, world rally champion, drives the VW Polo and performs in various racing series. The stage of the FIA European Championship has become another training ground on the way to finding his speed.
Oliver won four of the five special stages of the day; Alexey Lukyanuk in the Citroen C3 R5 finished first at the longest of them – Ramirent (28 km). At the end of Saturday Lucas is 9.7 seconds behind Solberg.
Alexey Lukyanuk, “It’s not an easy day. There was a late rise at 7:30 am and a long liaison to Talsi. At the first special stages we lost a lot because of the not very good settings. The car is new for us and this is our second race on gravel; we continue to improve Citroen and are looking for the necessary settings. After the first three special stages and day service, when we went to the second section of the day, I felt that we were much closer to the desired “setup” – we went well. The competitors, of course, also travel fast, but at least the internal feelings have improved. In general, looking at the entry list – 19 R5 class cars – we expected serious resistance from the local guys and youngsters. So it has happened. This rally is familiar for us, but the car and tyres are unfamiliar so far. Therefore, we cannot go 100% now, expecting more surprises from ourselves”.
Tomorrow the drivers will have to pass eight special stages with a break for day service. Unlike today, the race on Sunday will begin early and the first crews will start at 7:30 in the morning.
Results (Latvian site): http://www.autorally.lv/?r=
Photo gallery >>>