2016 FIA ERC Junior Champion Marijan Griebel secures second place with an impressive drive at the Cyprus Rally, while Ralfs Sirmacis’ third place secures third in championship standings too. Filip Nivette wins Rajd Dolnośląski in Poland, while Péter Ranga recovers from first leg difficulties to secure second at the Mecsek Rallye in Hungary.
Marijan Griebel impresses with second place at Cyprus Rally, Ralfs Sirmacis took third place
Last weekend’s Cyprus Rally was the tenth and final round of the FIA European Rally Championship 2016. And it proved to be a fitting finale to what has been a fantastic season for FABIA R5s.
The story of the weekend was undoubtedly the performance of the young German driver Marijan Griebel (title photo above). He secured a drive in a FABIA R5 at this event as a prize for winning the 2016 FIA ERC Junior Championship. And despite limited experience on his debut drive in the car, he really made the most of his chance, securing runners-up spot in fine style with an almost flawless drive.
Fellow FABIA R5 driver Ralfs Sirmacis, along with his co-driver Arturs Šimins, had to be content with third place for the Sports Racing Technologies team. They recovered from a slow start to claim two stage victories, but couldn’t make up the ground on Griebel in front of them.
Meanwhile, there was also an impressive performance from the Russian pairing of Nikolay Gryazin / Yaroslav Fedorov. They had flown out of the blocks and after five stages sat in second position overall; well placed to challenge for a podium place. Unfortunately, an accident on stage six forced them to retire, but at just 19 years of age, the performance of Nikolay Gryazin here suggests he has a bright future.
And we can’t write about the Cyprus Rally without mentioning the “Love Cyprus Golden Stage 2016”. The sponsor of this rally put up a prize fund of €60,000 for the final two mixed-surface stages of the rally. After the first stage was cancelled, it came down to a single stage race-off. And Ralfs Sirmacis secured €15,000 for finishing second, while Marijan Griebel won €10,000 after coming third. It was a fitting end to a fantastic European Rally Championship and one which proved to be particularly successful for ŠKODA FABIA R5 drivers.
Ralfs Sirmacis was the most successful of the bunch, securing three victories on his way to third place in the overall championship. And overall ŠKODA FABIA R5 drivers won five of the ten rallies, secured eleven podium places, including two ‘1-2-3-4’ finish at the Acropolis Rally and ‘1-2-3-4-5’ finish at the Barum Czech Rally Zlín. It also saw a number of young and talented drivers making a mark, which all in all bodes extremely well for the 2017 championship.
Filip Nivette wins Rajd Dolnośląski as crash denies Grzegorz Grzyb title this time out
The Rajd Dolnośląski was the fifth and penultimate round of the Polish Rally Championship and saw championship leader Grzegorz Grzyb appearing in a ŠKODA FABIA R5 for the first time, alongside with Filip Nivette.
Understandably all eyes were on Grzyb and his co-driver Robert Hundla, as they looked to claim the victory that would secure them the Polish Rally Championship title. Driving the Slovak MM Rally Team’s FABIA R5, in which Pavel Valoušek has already claimed the Slovak Championship crown, they were looking on course to do just that before disaster struck in the penultimate stage. A huge accident saw them hit hay bales by the side of the road and lose a big chunk of time, as well as sustain damage to the car.
Miraculously, they got it back on the road, but after nursing it through the final stage, they dropped back to third place in the overall standings; a place on the podium, but not enough to secure the title this time out.
However, it was Filip Nivette and his co-driver Kamil Heller, who were able to take advantage, and in a FABIA R5 prepared by the Motorsport Italia team, they claimed victory by a margin of 44.7 seconds. The win was their second of the season after a 1-second win at the Rajd Gdańsk in the second round of the championship.
Going into the final event of the season, the Rajd Arłamów, the Polish championship has become a two-horse race between Grzegorz Grzyb and Jacob Brzezinski. The event, which promises to be a dramatic concluding chapter to the championship, will take place from 3rd to 5th November.
Dan Gîrtofan finishes second at Harghitei Raliul and in Romanian Rally Championship
The Harghitei Raliul was the eighth and final round of the Romanian Rally Championship and saw another impressive drive from Dan Gîrtofan and his co-driver Tudor Mârza in a ŠKODA FABIA R5 for the ŠKODA Romania Motorsport team.
The Romanian duo dominated the first leg of the event winning three stages and leading overall after the first day. However, a wrong tyre choice at the start of the second day was to prove costly and despite coming back to win the final three stages too, they fell just short of overall winner, by 39 seconds.
Dan Gîrtofan / Tudor Mârza finished the season as runner-up in the Romanian Rally Championship.
Péter Ranga roars back to secure second place at Mecsek Rallye
The Mecsek Rallye was the seventh round of the Hungarian Rally Championship and after Norbert Herczig’s domination of the early rounds of this championship in his ŠKODA FABIA R5, it was the turn of Péter Ranga to impress in his home rally.
After a difficult first leg, Ranga and his co-driver Janek Czakó, who were competing for the Topp Autó 2010 Kft team, were sitting in 10th spot. But they dominated the second leg, winning all six stages to secure second place overall and finish just 42 seconds behind the eventual winner. And at the finish, the only disappointment Ranga had was that the first leg difficulties had probably cost him the chance of a win.
Meanwhile, Norbert Herczig / Igor Bacigál, who competed in this rally in a ŠKODA Octavia WRC car, finished in ninth place overall.
The final round of the Hungarian Rally Championship, the Ózd Rallye, will take place from 28th to 30th October.
COMING UP THIS WEEKEND
RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada
Salou, north-eastern Spain; 13th to 16th October; 12th round of FIA World Rally Championship; mixed event (gravel/tarmac), 19 special stages, around 321km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5s:
Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Team Oreca); Armin Kremer / Pirmin Winklhofer (BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team); Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson (ŠKODA Motorsport); Jan Kopecký /Pavel Dresler (ŠKODA Motorsport); Ghislain de Mevius / Johan Jalet (Ice Pol Racing Team); Max Redina / Emanuele Inglesi (Motorsport Italia); Julien Maurin / Valentin Sarreau; Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjærmoen (Printsport Oy); Bernhard ten Brinke / Davy Thierie (Wevers Motorsport)
The ŠKODA FABIA R5 dominated this event last season occupying the top 4 spots in the final WRC2 classification; The RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada is the only mixed surface event on the WRC calendar; Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula still sit second in the overall WRC2 championship standings and with three events still to go, still stand a chance of claiming the title.
Rally Due Valli
Verona, north-eastern Italy; 14th to 16th October; 8th round of Italian Rally Championship; asphalt event, 11 special stages, around 161km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5s:
Umberto Scandola / Guido D’Amore (Car Racing); Luca Hoelbling / TBC (Car Racing)
Umberto Scandola claimed the overall win in this event last year in a FABIA R5 for the ŠKODA Italia Motorsport team.
Vsetín, eastern Czech Republic; 14th to 15th October; 5th round of Czech Rallysprint Championship; asphalt event, 8 special stages, around 70km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5s:
Ondřej Bisaha / Jiří Hovorka (KM Racing Slovakia); Martin Březík /Marek Omelka; Jaroslav Melichárek / Erik Melichárek (Melico Racing); Zdeněk Pokorný / Richard Lasevič; Antonín Tlusťák / Ivo Vybíral (Tlusťák Racing)
A ŠKODA last won this event back in 2011 when Pavel Valoušek / Zdeněk Hrůza tasted victory in a FABIA WRC for the Delimax Czech National Team; Jaroslav Melichárek will be making his debut in a FABIA R5 after driving a WRC car for the past few years in the World Rally Championship and other events. His only previous experience in a ŠKODA was two drives in a FABIA S2000 back in 2012.