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Nikolay Gryazin takes his first ever FIA European Rally Championship win at the Rally Liepāja ● Gustavo Saba secures Paraguayan Rally Championship ● Dan Gîrtofan claims dominant victory at Rally Sibiu in Romania ● Ole Christian Veiby scores his first WRC point at the Rally Catalunya ● Four wins of ŠKODA FABIA R5 drivers in the French Rally Cup

Nikolay Gryazin wins in Latvia

The Rally Liepāja (6-8 October) in Latvia was the eighth and final round of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) as well as the sixth and seventh rounds of the Latvian Rally Championship. Even though this competition had already been decided, there was still much to play for in the ERC standings.

Nikolay Gryazin / Yaroslav Fedorov, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Sports Racing Technologies. Rally Liepāja 2017

In the end, it was the Sports Racing Technologies pairing of Nikolay Gryazin / Yaroslav Fedorov who took the win in their ŠKODA FABIA R5. Gryazin, who celebrated his twentieth birthday on the Saturday, won seven of the thirteen special stages and only finished outside the top two once despite the difficult conditions. He ended up 18.3 seconds ahead of rival Kalle Rovanperä to ensure he won his first ERC and ERC Junior Under 28 rally. He claimed a win in both rounds of the Latvian championship too.

Nikolay Gryazin / Yaroslav Fedorov, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Sports Racing Technologies. Rally Liepāja 2017

The result lifts Gryazin up to fifth in the overall ERC standings and second in the ERC Junior U28 classification.  He also finished runner-up in the Latvian championship, which Kalle Rovanperä had already secured in his TGS Worldwide OU FABIA R5 back at the Lõuna-Eesti Ralli.

Nikolay Gryazin

It was the German Albert von Thurn und Taxis who was next highest FABIA R5 driver to finish. Driving a FABIA R5 prepared and run by the Wevers Sport team alongside Belgian co-driver Bjorn Degandt, he finished in fifth place and it was his second top five result in the ERC despite this being his first full season in the championship.

Albert von Thurn und Taxis / Bjorn Degandt, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Rally Liepāja 2017

Going into the rally, all eyes were on the FABIA R5 of Portuguese duo Bruno Magalhães / Hugo Magalhães. They were chasing a win which could have secured them the ERC title, but disaster struck on the penultimate stage of the first leg.

Bruno Magalhães / Hugo Magalhães, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Rally Liepāja 2017

Rain was falling heavily and there was a large pool of standing water on one corner, which led to some questioning whether the stage should have been run. But it was, and the water caught Magalhães out and he crashed into a tree, ending his championship hopes. The same corner ended the challenge of Alexey Lukyanuk, who was leading the rally at the time.

Bruno Magalhães

Gustavo Saba second to Arias at the Transchaco Rally but retains Paraguayan Rally Championship

The Transchaco Rally (30 September - 2 October) was the seventh and penultimate round of the Paraguayan Rally Championship and saw a ŠKODA FABIA R5’s one-two result as Gustavo Saba retained his Paraguayan Rally Championship title.

Didier Arias / Hector Nunes, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Transchaco Rally 2017

But Saba, driving alongside co-driver Fernando Mussano, didn’t have it all his own way during the rally itself as it was Didier Arias and his co-driver Hector Nunes who claimed the victory. Saba led the way in the opening stages, but he encountered problems on SS15 which saw him drop back to third.

Arias took up the lead, and never relinquished up, eventually claiming the win by a margin of 1 minute 45 seconds. Saba fought back manfully and did enough to ensure he would finish as runner-up.

Gustavo Saba / Fernando Mussano, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Transchaco Rally 2017

And with four victories to his name already this season (at the Rally Trans Itapúa, Rally de SantaniRally de la Republica and Rally Acosta Ñu), as well as two more runner-up spots, that was enough to ensure he would be the Paraguayan Rally Champion for 2017.

All Saba’s attention will now turn to the Rally del Atlántico (24-26 November) in Uruguay, which is the concluding round of the CODASUR South American Rally Championship. There he will be up against fellow FABIA R5 driver Marcos Ligato as he attempts to retain that title as well.

Dan Gîrtofan dominates Raliul Sibiului but just misses out on Romanian title

There was both ecstasy and agony for Dan Gîrtofan at the Raliul Sibiului (6-7 October), the seventh and final round of the Romanian Rally Championship, as he ensured an empathic victory which was not quite enough to clinch the Romanian title.

Dan Girtofan / Tudor Marza, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Raliul Sibiului 2017 (Foto: Adrian Torjoc & Bogdan Barabas)

Gîrtofan, who was driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5 for the ŠKODA Romania Motorsport, had remained in title contention after the previous round, the Rally Iasi when a successful appeal against a penalty saw him belatedly awarded the victory. Which meant coming into this rally, Gîrtofan knew he had to take the win and hope other results went his way if he were to be champion. And there was nothing more Gîrtofan himself could have done. He led the rally from start to finish, winning twelve of the fourteen special stages to end up 1 minute and 15 seconds clear of his closest challenger. Unfortunately for him, that was title rival Bogdan Marisca, and his second place finish was enough to ensure he would be champion.

Dan Girtofan / Tudor Marza, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Raliul Sibiului 2017 (Foto: Adrian Torjoc & Bogdan Barabas)
Dan Gîrtofan

NEWS IN BRIEF

Španělsko

At the RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada (5-8 October), the eleventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjærmoen finished third in the RC2 class and tenth overall for the Printsport Oy team, while Benito Guerra / Daniel Cué were third in the WRC2 standings for Motorsport Italia.

Czechia

In the Czech Republic, the Rally Příbram (6-8 October) was the seventh and final round of the Czech Rally Championship. With Jan Kopecký having already secured the title for ŠKODA Motorsport with victory in each of the first six events, this was a chance for the customer teams to shine. Vojtěch Štajf / Markéta Skácelová (FABIA R5) led home the ŠKODA contingent with a third place finish for the Klokočka ŠKODA Czech National Team. It was Štajf’s first podium finish of the season and equalled his best ever result in the championship. Just behind him in fourth place were Jaromír Tarabus / Petr Machů in a FABIA S2000. It was their best result in the Czech championship since the Barum Rally Zlín in 2014. And in fifth position were Karel Trojan jun. / Petr Chlup (FABIA R5; J-M Motorsport).

Francie

There was plenty of action in the French Cup ahead of next week’s final. At the Rallye Régional du Pays Vençois (7-8 October), there was a tenth victory of the season in this competition for Anthony Puppo. He was driving for the SJ-3P team alongside co-driver Jean-Charles Descamps and they finished 50.2 seconds ahead of the field.

At the Rallye Régional du Cabardès (8 October), Kévin Constanty / Pauline Bardoux secured their first ever overall victory in just their second drive in a FABIA R5. They won by a margin of 16.8 seconds.

On to the Rallye Régional des Bauges (7-8 October), where Michel Giraldo / Méryl Giraldo secured their third win in just four starts in a FABIA R5. They finished 21.1 seconds ahead of Ludovic Bogey / Sissy Reignir who were making their debut FABIA R5 drive.

And at our final French Cup event, the Rallye National du Montbrisonnais (7-8 October), David Salanon / Jérôme Cave secured their second win in three FABIA R5 drives, taking victory by a margin of 1 minute 39 seconds.

Itálie

On to Italy and the Rally Città di Pistoia (7-8 October) in the -Italian regional championship (National Zone 5), where Gabriele Tognozzi / Francesco Pinelli finished first in R5 class and second overall in a car prepared and run by Colombi Racing, just 9.1 seconds behind the overall winner. Luca Artino / Andrea Gabelloni finished fifth in their FABIA R5 for ART-Motorsport.

And finally, in Ireland, at the Donegal Harvest Stages Rally (7 October), Joe McGonigle / Ciaran Geaney also finished first in R5 class and second overall. They were just 1 minute 1 second behind the more powerful WRC-powered winning car.

COMING UP THIS WEEKEND

Date Rally Round Surface
12-15 Oct Finale de la Coupe de France
des Rallyes - Ste Baume
French Rally Cup Asphalt
13-14 Oct Saaremaa Rally Estonian Rally Championship 6 Gravel
13-15 Oct Rally Due Valli Italian Rally Championship 8 Asphalt
13-15 Oct Mecsek Rallye Hungarian Rally Championship 6 Asphalt
14-15 Oct Larissa Rally Greek Rally Championship 6 Asphlat