Success for Ralfs Sirmacis at the Rally Estonia, as Fabian Kreim claims another German championship win at the Thüringen Rallye to edge closer to the title.
Ralfs Sirmacis seals victory at the Rally Estonia to maintain his European Rally Championship push
Last weekend saw the 6th round of the European Rally Championship (ERC) taking place in Tartu with the Rally Estonia. And it was the Latvian driver Ralfs Sirmacis who emerged victorious, having claimed the ERC Junior class victory here last year.
Driving a ŠKODA Fabia R5 for the Sports Racing Technologies team, Sirmacis was joined in this event by stand-in co-driver Māris Kulšs as his regular partner, Arturs Šimins, was laid low with a fever. And he kept pace at the top of the field despite an error on the second stage seeing him temporarily drop back to 4th place.
But he battled back winning six of the events sixteen stages as he pushed the leader Alexey Lukyanuk all the way. And his consistent and determined driving was rewarded when Lukyanuk crashed out and lost a wheel on the penultimate stage, leaving the Latvian clear to take the victory by a margin of 1 minute and 34 seconds.
The victory made Sirmacis the first driver in the ERC this season to win more than one event and his record of two wins from three rallies leaves him third in the ERC standings with four events remaining.
There was also an impressive drive at their home rally from the Estonian duo of Raul Jeets and Andrus Toom, who were also driving Sports Racing Technologies-run ŠKODA Fabia R5.
They drove with speed and consistency and pushed fellow Estonian Rainer Aus hard for third spot and a place on the podium. For the second year in a row they won the short stage through the streets of Elva, and during the six stages of leg 2, they were nip and tuck with their countryman, especially after he hit a rock and damaged his car.
But in the end, they finished up just 18.4 seconds back with a result which matched their best ever finish in an ERC event.
The next round of the European Rally Championship is the Rajd Rzeszowski (Rally Rzeszow) in Poland, which takes place from the 6th to 8th August.
Fabian Kreim closes in on German rally title as he claims third successive win at the Thüringen Rallye
Fabian Kreim and his co-driver Frank Christian picked up their fourth win of the German Rally Championship at the Thüringen Rallye to cement their place at the top of the Championship standings.
Having tasted victory in the previous two rounds at the Rallye Stemweder Berg and the Sachsen Rally, as well as in the opening event of the season, the Saarland-Pfalz Rallye, the German pairing dominated this event utterly to make it three consecutive wins for the ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland team.
They led from start to finish in their ŠKODA Fabia R5 and won all but two of the event’s ten stages to clinch victory by 39.8 seconds from their nearest rivals. After an incident on the final stage last year forced them to retire from a winning position, Kreim was especially happy to be able to put that ghost to bed.
Elsewhere, the Russian pairing of Dmitriy Biryukov / Evgeniy Kalachev finished the rally in fifteenth place overall, driving the car of TGS Worldwide OU team.
Fabian Kreim now holds a thirty point lead in the German Rally Championship with four events to go, and the next round will be the Rallye Wartburg which takes place on 5th and 6th August.
Esapekka Lappi wins AutoGlym Ralli as drivers prepare for the Rally Finland
Several big names made their way to Finland to participate in the AutoGlym Ralli last weekend in preparation for the upcoming Rally Finland, which will be the eighth round of the World Rally Championship.
And it proved to be a good outing for the ŠKODA Motorsport driver Esapekka Lappi who, along with his regular co-driver Janne Ferm, took victory by a margin of more than 3 minutes. In this event, the Finnish duo were driving a ŠKODA Fabia R5 for the Printsport Oy team, and over just 8 stages and 94km of competitive distance they proved to be far too strong for the rest of the field.
There was also a good run-out for Jukka Metsälä and his co-driver Sari Ohra-Aho who finished in 7th place overall, but for Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula an incident on the second stage put them out and cost them the chance to get valuable kilometres under their belt ahead of the upcoming WRC event.
COMING UP THIS WEEKEND
Weiz, Styria region, south-east Austria; 22nd and 23rd July; 5th round of Austrian Rally Championship; asphalt event, 16 special stages, around 192km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 Teams:
Raimund Baumschlager / Thomas Zeltner (Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team); Albert von Thurn und Taxis / Bjorn Degandt (Wevers Sport)
Raimund Baumschlager has won the last four consecutive editions of the Rally Weiz.
Poprad, central Slovakia; 22nd and 23rd July; 4th round of Slovak Rally Championship; asphalt event, 9 special stages, around 89km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 Teams:
Pavel Valoušek / Veronika Havelková (Energy Oil Motorsport); Jan Dohnal / Pavel Zalabák; Tomáš Kukučka / Peter Vejačka (KL Racing Team); Ondřej Bisaha / Lukáš Šintal (KM Racing Slovakia)
Pavel Valoušek has finished second here in each of the last two years in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000. He will be hoping to go one better this year in a ŠKODA Fabia R5.
Cluj-Napoca, north-west Romania; 22nd and 23rd July; 6th round of Romanian Rally Championship; asphalt event, 10 special stages, around 107km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA Fabia R5 Team:
Dan Gîrtofan / Tudor Mârza
Dan Gîrtofan finished runner-up here in consecutive rallies in 2012 and 2013 in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000. He too will be hoping the ŠKODA Fabia R5 can help propel him to the top of the podium.