In the European Rally Championship, it was a weekend of eights. In the eighth and final round, eight FABIA R5s came in the first eight places. Rally Liepāja also decided the championship results. FABIA R5s dominated both the overall ERC results, where 9 out of 10 first positions went to ŠKODA drivers, and Junior U28 results, with the stunning 1-2-3-4 finish and 6 out of 7 first places.
The hottest fight in the final ERC event of 2018 was between the three leading drivers of Junior U28 category – Nikolay Gryazin, who came to Latvia in the 1stplace after winning three rallies this year in the U28, followed by Chris Ingram with 7 less points and Fabian Kreim further 1 point behind him. These three were the only ones with any chance of winning the season and 205 kilometres divided into 12 stages was to decide the season’s result.
Right from the beginning, the junior FABIA R5 drivers dominated the rally, with first five places going to Gryazin, Ingram, Åhlin, Habaj and Kreim. Gryazin kept winning all the stages until SS6, when he was first overtaken by Chris Ingram. Other FABIA R5 drivers kept their pace, shuffling places among each other and keeping first five places after the end of the day one.
On Sunday morning set of stages, Alexey Gryazin repeated his success from the previous day, winning all three. He was followed by a pack of FABIA R5 drivers, with the ŠKODA hegemony disrupted only by Eyvind Brynildsen and his Fiesta R5, who finished the morning set of stages in 5th place, behind Gryazin, Ingram, Åhlin and Kreim, with the latter two fighting for the third position throughout the morning.
Then, Brynildsen crashed out and left his fifth position up for grabs. This meant that seven, and later eight FABIA R5s were in the front of the pack. At the top, Gryazin kept his lead with a fast but consistent drive, followed by Chris Ingram. There was a tense fight for the third place between Fabian Kreim and Frederik Åhlin, but the Swede ultimately prevailed, relegating Kreim to the fourth place. After Niki Mayr-Melnhof on another Ford had to retire, the number of FABIA R5s in the lead increased to eight.
After the last event of the ERC season, 9 out of first 10 cars were FABIA R5s, with just Alexey Lukyanuk in the first place driving a Ford. Even more interesting are the results of Junior U28 category – there, 6 out of 7 top places went to FABIA R5, with only exception being Laurent Pellier on his Fiesta in the fifth place.