Ralfs Sirmacis secures home win in European Rally Championship at the Rally Liepāja, while 15-year-old Kalle Rovanperä closes in on Latvian championship crown and Pedro Meireles secures Rallye de Mortágua in Portugal to keep his championship hopes alive.

Ralfs Sirmacis surges to dominant Rally Liepāja win

The Rally Liepāja in Latvia was the ninth round of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) and it proved to be a very happy hunting ground for Ralfs Sirmacis / Arturs Šimins (title photo above), who secured a dominant victory in their home event.

The Latvian duo, driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5 of the Sports Racing Technologies team, won 11 of the 13 stages and led the event from start to finish, claiming victory by a margin of 1 minute and 4 seconds.

Ralfs Sirmacis / Arturs Šimins, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Sports Racing Technologies. Rally Liepaja 2016
Ralfs Sirmacis / Arturs Šimins, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Sports Racing Technologies. Rally Liepaja 2016

Remarkably, they almost came unstuck just two corners from the end of the final stage, where they ran wide and almost ended up in a ditch. But they held on to claim what was an emotional victory.

The win was Sirmacis’ third of the season in the ERC, after the Acropolis Rally in Greece and the Rally Estonia. It keeps him in third place in the Championship standings with just one event remaining.

Raimonds Kisiels / Arnis Ronis, ŠKODA FABIA R5, TGS Worldwide. Rally Liepaja 2016
Raimonds Kisiels / Arnis Ronis, ŠKODA FABIA R5, TGS Worldwide. Rally Liepaja 2016

There was also a strong performance from another Latvian pairing in a FABIA R5, with Raimonds Kisiels / Arnis Ronis finishing in fifth place overall for the TGS Worldwide OU team. They pushed hard on the final day, making up three places as their consistency was rewarded and others made mistakes around them.

But there was less good fortune for the other Sports Racing Technologies ŠKODA FABIA R5 of Raul Jeets / Andrus Toom. They rolled the car in Stage 5, whilst looking in contention for a top 10 finish, and a fire meant their event was over.

The European Rally Championship will conclude with the Cyprus Rally, which takes place between 7th and 9th October.

 

Pedro Meireles / Mário Castro, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Rali de Mortágua 2016
Pedro Meireles / Mário Castro, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Rali de Mortágua 2016

Rally de Mortágua: Win for Pedro Meireles, first podium finish for Miguel Barbosa

Pedro Meireles and his co-driver Mário Castro won the Rally de Mortágua in the Portuguese Rally Championship by a margin of 31 seconds, despite suffering a puncture along the way. They led from start to finish in their ŠKODA FABIA R5 apart from after the second stage, when they dipped to second place, and won four of the nine stages completed.

Miguel Barbosa / Miguel Ramalho, ŠKODA FABIA R5, BP Ultimate Škoda Team. Rali de Mortágua 2016
Miguel Barbosa / Miguel Ramalho, ŠKODA FABIA R5, BP Ultimate Škoda Team. Rali de Mortágua 2016

And they were not the only ŠKODA FABIA R5 drivers to impresses. Miguel Barbosa / Miguel Ramalho also claimed a place on the podium with an impressive third place finish. It was their first podium finish on their debut season in the Portuguese Rally Championship and they also currently sit fourth in the championship standings.

The next round of the Portuguese Rally Championship is the Rallye Casino de Espinho, which takes place on 14th and 15th October.

 

 

Kalle Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, TGS Worldwide. Rally Liepaja 2016
Kalle Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, TGS Worldwide. Rally Liepaja 2016

 NEWS IN BRIEF

    • The two legs of the Rally Liepāja also served as the 6th and 7th rounds of the Latvian Rally Championship. Kalle Rovanperä and his experienced co-driver Risto Pietiläinen continued their march towards the Latvian title. After outpacing the leader of the ERC standings in their ŠKODA FABIA R5 on stage 1, a collision with a pole on state 2 saw them finish 11th in the Latvian standings in the first leg. But they finished second overall in the second leg, and hold a 20 point championship lead one event remaining.
    • Julien Maurin / Olivier Ural entered the Rallye National de Corte – Centre Corse in preparation for the next round of the World Rally Championship, the Rallye de France – Tour de Corse. And they will be looking forward to that event after winning here by a margin of 52 seconds from their nearest rivals.
    • In the British Rally Championship at the Rally Isle of Man, Desi Henry / Liam Moynihan drove an impressive rally in their ŠKODA FABIA R5 but had to settle for a fourth placed finish after missing out on a podium place by just 11 seconds. David Bogie and James O’Reilly came home in seventh place for the CA1 Sport team. “It’s been a struggle this weekend,” said David Bogie afterwards. “We’ve just tried to keep working on it.” Meanwhile, teammates Thomas Preston / Jack Morton were looking well set for a top 10 finish before a crash on stage 17 put them out.
    • Bernhard ten Brinke / Davy Thierie endured an eventful Hellendoorn Rally, 4th round of Dutch Rally Championship. Forced to retire during Day 1, they rejoined the event on Day 2 in 31st position but managed to finish second on that leg and tenth overall. Meanwhile, there was another impressive drive in Wevers Sport-run ŠKODA FABIA R5 from Albert von Thurn und Taxis / Bjorn Degandt, who finished sixth overall.

 

COMING UP THIS WEEKEND

Gaurav Gill / Glenn MacNeall, ŠKODA FABIA R5, MRF Tyres. International Rally of Queensland 2016
Gaurav Gill / Glenn MacNeall, ŠKODA FABIA R5, MRF Tyres. International Rally of Queensland 2016

Rally Hokkaido

Rally Information:
Hokkaido, northern Japan; 23rd to 25th September; 4th round of FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC); gravel event, 12 special stages, around 220 km of competitive distance.

Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5s:
Gaurav Gill / Stéphane Prévot (Team MRF); Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian (Team MRF)

Interesting Facts:
A ŠKODA FABIA S2000 has won this event for the last three years. Pontus Tidemand / Emil Axelsson claimed victory last year and the year before it was Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler. And in 2013 Gaurav Gill claimed his only previous win here with co-driver Glenn Macneall.

 

Raimund Baumschlager / Thomas Zeltner, ŠKODA FABIA R5, BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team. ŠKODA Rallye Liezen 2015. Photo: Harald Illmer
Raimund Baumschlager / Thomas Zeltner, ŠKODA FABIA R5, BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team. ŠKODA Rallye Liezen 2015. Photo: Harald Illmer

ŠKODA Rallye Liezen

Rally Information:
Liezen, central Austria; 23rd to 24th September; 6th round of Austrian Rally Championship, 3rd round of Tour of Europe Rally Championship; asphalt event, 13 special stages, around 153 km of competitive distance.

Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5s:
Raimund Baumschlager / Thomas Zeltner (BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team); Christian Mrlik / Pirmin Winklhofer (BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team)

Interesting Facts: This will be the third running of this event as one of the rounds of the Austrian Rally Championship and ŠKODA and Raimund Baumschlager have a 100% record here so far. He won last year in a FABIA R5 and in 2014 in a FABIA S2000.

 

Umberto Scandola / Guido D'Amore, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Car Racing. Rally di Roma Capitale 2015
Umberto Scandola / Guido D’Amore, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Car Racing. Rally di Roma Capitale 2015. Photo: Massimo Bettiol

Rally di Roma Capitale

Rally Information:
Rome, Italy; 23rd to 25th September; 7th round of Italian Rally Championship; asphalt event, 15 special stages, around 151 km of competitive distance.

Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5:
Umberto Scandola / Guido D’Amore (ŠKODA Motorsport Italia)

Interesting Facts:
Umberto Scandola / Guido D’Amore claimed overall victory in this rally last year by a margin of just 2.9 seconds.

 

Esben Hegelund / Karsten Isaksen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Wevers Sport. Sydhavsrally 2016
Esben Hegelund / Karsten Isaksen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Wevers Sport. Sydhavsrally 2016

Rally Roskilde

Rally Information:
Roskilde, central Denmark; 24th September; 5th round of Danish Rally Championship; asphalt event, 7 special stages, around 130 km of competitive distance.

Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5:
Esben Hegelund / Karsten Isaksen (Wevers Sport)

Interesting Facts:
Esben Hegelund has already secured the Danish Rally Championship title and has a 100% record from the four rounds which have taken place so far.

 

Mikko Lehessaari / Reeta Hämäläinen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Hannu's Rally Team. Ralli Turku 2016
Mikko Lehessaari / Reeta Hämäläinen, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Hannu’s Rally Team. Ralli Turku 2016

Ralli Tempere

Rally Information:
Tampere, Finland; 23rd to 24th September; 6th round of Finnish Rally Championship; gravel event, 9 special stages, around 150 km of competitive distance.

Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5:
Mikko Lehessaari / Reeta Hämäläinen (Hannu’s Rally Team)

Interesting Facts:
A ŠKODA FABIA R5 has won two rounds of this season’s Finnish Rally Championship, with Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjærmoen winning both the Tahko SM Ralli and the Enset Oy SM-Ralli.

 

Rallye Villa de Llanes

Rally Information:
Llanes, northern Spain; 23rd to 24th September; 9th round of Spanish Rally Championship; asphalt event, 10 special stages, around 170 km of competitive distance.

Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5:
Surhayen Pernía / Carlos Del Barrio (Escudería Cóbreces);

Interesting Facts:
This will be Surhayen Pernía’s debut event in a ŠKODA FABIA R5; A ŠKODA FABIA S2000 driven by Alberto Hevia / Alberto Iglesias won the Rallye Villa de Llanes three years in a row between 2009 and 2011.

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