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Gryazin controls pace on day one of Rally Liepāja

Liepāja, Latvia
October 13, 2018

Today in Pērbone, Laidi, Upītes and Vilgāle, the first six special stages of FIA European Rally Championship round Rally Liepāja took place, in addition to round six of the Latvian Rally Championship. Qualifying stage winner Nikolay Gryazin was fastest on day one. In addition to the action on the stages, the Speed Festival Kurzeme activities also took place – sixth round of the Latvian water motorsports speedboat championship took place on the Tirdzniecības canal, while the Latvian antique automobile club Youngtimer Rally historic car gathering Cars & Coffee Liepāja took place at the Vecā Ostmala promenade.


On the first day of the FIA European Rally Championship, Nikolay Gryazin showed a very consistent and quick pace. The Sports Racing Technologies driver set the quickest time in the first five of today’s six special stages. Had he not punctured a wheel on SS6 ŠKODA, Gryazin might have won all the day’s stages. At the end of day one, he has a 19 second lead over Chris Ingram (TOKSPORT WRT), while Fabian Kreim (Škoda Auto Deutschland) is third overall, 39.9 seconds behind Gryazin.


Nikolay Gryazin: “We did not go all out in the morning. I was careful, as the stages were very fast. On SS2, we spun and stopped for a brief moment, as we had made a mistake in the pacenotes. One of the crews starting before us had also stopped on the stage. There were multiple mistakes throughout the day, and we concluded day one with a puncture. I have no idea why that happen. In the middle of the stage, the car started feeling worse, and by the end it was nearly impossible to get through right corners. The acceleration was also very bad.”

Gryazin, Ingram and Kreim are also the overnight leaders in the Junior U28 class. On Sunday, we will determine not only the winner of Rally Liepāja, but also the champion in this class. These three crews are the contenders for the title, all of them using Škoda Fabia R5 cars.


Chris Ingram: “At first, I was surprised by the result, as we made a mistake with our tyre choice. I just tried to drive cleanly and enjoy the rally. On SS2, we spun and stopped sideways on the road. After that, we have just enjoyed the rally. It was fun, with a few slides mixed in. We were too careful. For the afternoon section, we made some setup changes and could try to go even faster. Nikolay is an expert on these roads, so I am surprised that we could be so close to his pace!”


Fabian Kreim: “We felt good in the car starting from the first metres. On Friday, we made some final adjustments with the car setup and the grip is very good. A few times, I went a bit too wide and lost time. There were no mistakes on SS5. The gravel was not as deep as at the beginning, but the final parts was too fast. Overall, we are satisfied with how the day went, but Sunday will be a long day – everything can happen!”

The lone ERC2 driver, Sergei Remennik (Russian Performance Motorsport) had an action-filled day – on the last stage, they did not manage to avoid a branch that had fallen on the road and got a puncture. Remennik is fifteenth overall overnight.

In ERC3 class, ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team drivr Tom Kristensson showed amazing pace throughout day one. The Swede was quickest in all six special stages and holds an 18.8 second lead over his teammate Mārtiņš Sesks. Kristensson ran into some gearbox issues at the end of the day, however. Both drivers are currently leading the Junior U27 class, where Sesks had won the title before this event. Miika Hokkanen is currently third, 1 minute and 14.4 seconds behind Kristensson.


Mārtiņš Sesks: “We began the day in a fighting mood. Pērbone was a good warm-up – we tried to get a good pace without taking any risks. I really enjoyed SS2, although we had to get around Simone Tempestini who had engine issues. After the crash in Poland, I am a bit scared of the trees – driving on asphalt is something I enjoy more. We got our confidence back in the afternoon, and I focused on my own driving. Our pace is improving, but it is not easy. I doubt that driving on Latvian stages is giving me any advantage.”

Nikolay Gryazin was also fastest in the sixth round of the Latvian Rally Championship, beating Estonian Ranno Bundsen by 2 minutes and 57.7 seconds, while Lithuanian Egidijus Valeiša was third. The result has given the LRČ1 title to Bundsen, and moved him into first place in the Latvian Rally Championship overall standings.

In LRČ2 class, Emīls Blūms managed to beat one of the most decorated Lithuanian rally drivers, Vytautas Švedas. Both drivers were separated by just 19.7 seconds, with third place going to the 2018 FIA European Rallycross Champion Reinis Nitišs.

LRČ3 class had an exciting battle between rising stars Mārtiņš Sesks and Oliver Solberg. Both crews exchanged fastest times multiple times, with Liepāja native Sesks ultimately coming out on top by just 0.9 seconds. The battle will continue tomorrow, with the 2018 title in the LRČ3 class on the line.

©Ronalds Sirba

Jānis Vorobjovs, competing in the LRČ5 class with a BMW M3, did not reach the finish due to an engine issue, handing the victory to Victor Leontev. In LRČ6 class, the Russian crew of Alexander Zaitsev was fastest. One of the fan favourites was definitely Māris Dzērve / Mārtiņš Jakobsons, who are competing in Rally Liepāja in a GAZ 53A truck. Naturally, they are not able to compete with the lighter rally cars, and are currently at very back of the standings.

©Ronalds Sirba

In addition to the action in the Latvian Rally Championship, there was also a Rallysprint event in Kurzeme today. There, the duel between the Subaru Impreza of Jānis Dūcis / Gints Bērziņš and the Rover 214 of Andris Putniņš / Raimonds Gļauda concluded prematurely, with Putniņš retiring and giving the victory to Dūcis.

A few special prize winners were also determined today. Neste prize will be given out to the crew with a Latvian Automobile Federation issued licence which sets the quickest total time through SS1/SS4 NESTE, and was won by Nikolay Gryazin / Yaroslav Fedorov. Meanwhile, the Škoda special prize, given out to the crew that sets the quickest time on SS6 ŠKODA, was won by Chris Ingram / Ross Whittock.


On Sunday, the final six special stages will take place in Dinsdurbe, Paplaka, Vecpils and Podnieki. The rally crews will be joined on the stages by Historic class cars. Regularity rally competitors will tackle stages SS7, SS8, SS10 and SS11 1h30min before the rally cars, but Historic Sport class cars will tackle the final four stages of Rally Liepāja together with the Latvian Rally Championship competitors. After finishing SS12 LIEPĀJA, the competitors will head out to the recently built Liepājas Olimpiskais Centrs Manēža, where the finish podium will be awaiting them from 18:00, with the FIA European Rally Championship awards ceremony taking place. At 20:30, the awards ceremony for both Latvian Rally Championship rounds and the FIA ERT Baltic Rally Trophy will also begin at the same spot.


FIA European Rally Championship round Rally Liepāja is possible thanks to the support of the Latvian government and the rally city of Liepāja. We would also like to thank our sponsors Neste, Škoda, Ramirent, our partner LDz Cargo, official car rental Sixt and our supporters Liepājas Olimpiskais Centrs, LSEZ, and Swecon. Informative support is provided by news portal DELFI, as well as Kurzemes Radio, JCDecaux, Go4Speed, and Zebra. Rally Liepāja would also not be possible without our rally friends: Dardedze, Esi Draugs, Ezerkauliņi, Flora, FN Serviss, Fristads, Jānis Pūce, Liepājas Datoru Centrs, Red Bull, Rent a Display, SignTech, Sportland, Törley, and Venden. Rally Liepāja is realized with support by the regional councils of Aizpute, Durbe, Kuldīga, Priekule, Skrunda, and Vaiņode. A special thank you goes out to the Latvian Automobile Federation. Rally Liepāja is organized by RA EVENTS and Speed Festival Kurzeme.

Rally Liepāja tickets are available in all Biļešu Serviss locations as well as online HERE. A single ticket costs 25.00 EUR. Children up to 10 years of age and people with disabilities can attend the event free of charge. At the entrance of the stage, you will have to provide a valid document stating the age and/or disability.

Rally Liepāja spectators should remember that, before heading out to the stages, the tickets must be exchanged for wristbands – you will not be able to access the stages without a wristband. Information about the ticket exchange points is available on When exchanging the ticket for a wristband, you will also receive a spectator safety leaflet.

No.      Name                                                           Length       Date                Start time           

SS7     CANON BIZNESA CENTRS - IB SERVISS (Dinsdurbe)   6,53 km      14.10.2018     10:00            

SS8     SIXT rent a car 1 (Paplaka)                        18,35 km    14.10.2018     10:45            

SS9     SIXT rent a car 2 (Paplaka)                        18,35 km    14.10.2018     12:20            

SS10   PORT OF LIEPAJA (Vecpils)                     15,77 km    14.10.2018     14:50            

SS11   LOC (Podnieki)                                            10,29 km    14.10.2018     15:40            

SS12   LIEPĀJA (Vecpils)                                       24,99 km    14.10.2018     16:30            

All times are provisional and subject to change. Follow the latest information on or on Rally Liepāja social media accounts.

More information about the FIA European Rally Championship is available HERE.

More information about the Latvian Rally Championship is available HERE.