Day report: Gryazin scores a treble on Rally Liepāja
Nikolay Gryazin completed a perfect FIA European Rally Championship weekend on Rally Liepāja, scoring overall victory, class victory and the ERC Junior U28 championship title*.
Gryazin extended his lead over nearest rival Chris Ingram with three stage wins on Sunday morning, bringing his Sports Racing Technologies ŠKODA Fabia R5 carefully to the finish line on the final three stages of the season.
Try as he might, Toksport WRT’s Ingram could not quite match Gryazin’s searing pace but secured a strong second place finish, which also secured him second place in the ERC Junior U28 championship standings.
A titanic scrap over the final podium position went to the wire between Fredrik Åhlin and Fabian Kreim. Trading places multiple times across the weekend, Kreim had pulled in front by a mere 0.1s heading to the final stage but a monumental push by Åhlin won him third place back, also winning the final stage by 8.1s from Gryazin.
Though fourth place finisher Kreim missed out on a podium, the leading quartet still demonstrated the strength of the young stars in R5 cars by winning every stage combined, the first time in history that ERC Junior U28s have won every stage on an ERC event.
Łukasz Habaj (eSky Rally Team) completed the top five finishers, retaking the position after Eyvind Brynildsen crashed out on stage ten while chasing Åhlin and Kreim for third place.
Filip Mareš (ACCR Czech Rally Team) and Rhys Yates (Kresta Racing) continued the ERC Junior U28 domination on Rally Liepāja, finishing sixth and seventh overall and fifth and sixth in class respectively. Both were aiming to build confidence on Liepāja’s high-speed stages, outlasting several more experienced R5 rivals to secure strong finishes.
Ingram’s Toksport WRT team-mate Orhan Avcioğlu lost three minutes on the final stage after being forced to stop and change a puncture but still managed to retain eighth place.
Tom Kristensson secured ERC Junior U27 honours while also finishing ninth overall, beating ADAC Opel Rallye Junior team-mate Mārtiņš Sesks for victory. The local favourite also wrapped up the ERC3 championship title*while also scoring a point in the overall ERC classification, completing the top 10 finishers.
ERC2 production class honours were secured by Sergei Remennik (Russian Performance Motorsport), recovering from a power steering failure just before midday service to finish P12 in ERC overall.
Emma Falcón was crowned this year’s ERC Ladies’ Trophy winner, scoring enough points to secure the title despite her main rival Catie Munnings (Saintéloc Junior Team)winning the event in their class.
*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA