Rnd 2 ERC Rally Liepāja - Latvia Feb1-3 talk/results spoiler**
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    Cool Rnd 2 ERC Rally Liepāja - Latvia Feb1-3 talk/results spoiler**

    Rnd 2 - Rally Liepāja-Ventspils - Latvia Feb 01-03[/B]



    Excitement grows ahead of Latvia's ERC debut

    There will be serious competition ahead in Latvia this week when the 2013 FIA European Rally Championship fires back into life on Rally Liepāja-Ventspils.

    Based between the two cities on Latvia’s Baltic coast from 1-3 February, the all-new snow event will be a thrilling addition to the ERC schedule.

    Featuring 15 stages split over three legs and a competitive distance of 243 kilometres, organisers have received an impressive 79 entries for the international and national rallies.

    The action begins when the 12 priority drivers tackle the Qualifying Stage on Friday morning to determine the starting positions for leg one. This will be followed by the ceremonial start in Liepāja before the first timed stage, Rallyofchampions.com (Podnieki) at 17:10hrs local time on Friday.

    Official Website: lvrally.com/eng

    Listen Rally Radio: rallyradio.com/

    --------------------------

    Strong field heads for Latvia

    The new European Rally Championship heads to Latvia for the second round of the 2013 campaign
    A strong field will head to Latvia next weekend for the second round of the new FIA European Rally Championship season, Rally Liepāja-Ventspils.

    With the bulk of the stages taking place on high-speed country roads coated with snow and ice and littered with sweeping turns, jumps, dips and blind crests, the action is expected to be red hot, with extensive coverage available on Eurosport.

    Forty crews will be in action on 15 stages split between three legs over a competitive distance of 243.00 kilometres. However, because the distance covered on leg one does not exceed 25 per cent of the total competitive length, bonus points will only be handed out to the top seven competitors in the overall, Production Car Cup and 2WD classifications after legs two and three.

    One of several exciting elements of Rally Liepāja-Ventspils will be the Qualifying Stage, which gets underway at 09:30hrs local time on Friday 1 February on a 5.89-kilometre course. Following a period of Free Practice, 12 priority crews get one run to go as fast as possible.

    At 13:00hrs local time following the pre-event press conference, the quickest driver in qualifying will select their starting position for later in the day first with the second fastest driver next to choose and so on until all drivers have made their selection. Non-priority drivers will start leg one in seeded order.

    Road position can be crucial on loose-surface rallies. On snow events, the preference is to start lower down the order in the event of recent snowfall to benefit from a more compact and stable surface. However, it can also pay to start closer to the front of the field if the stage surface deteriorates with ruts forming and the gravel base beneath becoming exposed.

    While the battle for outright victory is likely to be between leading seeds Jari Ketomaa, Craig Breen and François Delecour, one driver set to attract significant attention will be Inessa Tushkanova. The 25-year-old glamour model from Ukraine will compete for FIA ERC Production Car Cup honours where her rivals will include top Russian Alexey Lukyanuk, rapid Estonian youngster Siim Plangi and talented Czech Jaroslav Orsák. All four will drive Mitsubishi Lancers.

    “I don't have any hopes and dreams about big prizes in Latvia, but I find it very important to participate in the rally for my career since the level of ERC is very high and my plans for rally do not stop after one year,” said Tushkanova.

    The ERC 2WD Championship will also provide plenty of action with category leader Hannes Danzinger (Renault Clio R3) up against, among others, top Latvian Ralfs Sirmacis (Ford Fiesta R2) and Italian Elwis Chentre (ŠKODA Fabia R2). Stéphane Lefebvre, meanwhile, will be giving Peugeot's 208 R2 its ERC debut.

    As well as Peugeot 207 Super 2000 drivers Breen and Delecour and Ford Fiesta RRC-mounted Ketomaa, Jan Černý, who will pilot a Fabia S2000, is the reigning ERC 2WD champion and a future prospect, while Antonín Tlusťák is due to prepare for Rally Liepāja-Ventspils by contesting the Halls Winter Rally in Lithuania. Raimonds Kisiels is the highest-seeded local driver in a MINI John Cooper Works S2000.

    click: crash.net/ERC/news/187531


    ...

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    Ketomaa fastest in Latvia ERC qualifying

    Jari Ketomaa has gone fastest on the Qualifying Stage for Rally Liepāja-Ventspils, round two of the FIA European Rally Championship.

    At the wheel of a Ford Fiesta RRC, the Flying Finn lived up to his moniker by setting a time of 2m44.8s through the ice-coated 5.89-kilometre test near the town of Prikule, located 40 kilometres from the city of Liepāja.

    Ketomaa’s performance means he will have first choice of the starting positions for leg one, which gets underway with the Rallyofchampions.com stage at 17:10hrs local time today.

    “Everything was fine, now we must choose our starting place but I think we will go first,” said Ketomaa’s co-driver Kaj Lindström.

    Russian Alexey Lukyanuk was second fastest, 0.8s down on Ketomaa, in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, which is eligible for the ERC Production Car Cup. He will be the next driver to select his starting position after Ketomaa with Vasily Gryazin the top Latvian driver in third place, 0.9s adrift of Lukyanuk in a time of 2m46.5s.

    Siim Plangi, from Estonia, was fourth fastest in an R4-specifcation Lancer with top Lithuanian Vytautas Švedas next up. Craig Breen, one of the favourites for victory in Latvia in his Saintéloc Peugeot Rally Academy 207 Super 2000, completed the top six followed by Raimonds Kisiels (MINI John Cooper Works RRC) and rallying legend François Delecour.

    Breen, who recorded a time of 2m49.3s, was satisfied with his performance despite admitting that he could have gone faster. “I’m trying to save my [supply of] tyres for the rally so it was worth the sacrifice,” said the Irishman. “The tyres I used this morning had already done 100 kilometres before free practice so I’m not too worried. It’s difficult to say where we’re going to choose to go on the road.”

    Czech drivers Jan Černý (ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000) and Jaroslav Orsák completed the top 10 in ninth and 10th places respectively.

    The top 12 priority drivers who took part in qualifying will select their starting positions at 13:00hrs local time.

    Qualifying Stage results
    1 Ketomaa/Lindström (Ford Fiesta RRC)
 2m44.8s
    2 Lukyanuk/Arnautov (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X) 2m45.6s
    3 Gryazin/Chumak (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX R4) 2m46.5s
    4 Plangi/Sarapuu (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X R4) 2m46.8s
    5 Švedas/Sakalauskas (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X) 2m48.0s
    6 Breen/Moynihan (Peugeot 207 S2000) 2m49.3s
    7 Kisiels/Ronis (MINI John Cooper Works RRC) 2m50.1s
    8 Delecour/Savignoni (Peugeot 207 S2000) 2m51.3s
    9 Černy/Kohout (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) 2m51.9s
    10 Orsák/Šmeidler (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX) 2m56.7s
    11 Tlusťák/Vyoral (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) 2m57.7s
    12 Puskádi/Gódor (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) 2m59.3s

    click: fiaerc.com/news/detail/id/192

    ---------------------

    Ketomaa selects first on the road on Rally Liepāja-Ventspils


    Jari Ketomaa and Kaj Lindström will run first on the road on the opening leg of Rally Liepāja-Ventspils, round two of the FIA European Rally Championship.

    Finn Ketomaa earned the right to select his starting position first after winning this morning’s Qualifying Stage in his Ford Fiesta RRC.

    Alexey Lukyanuk, who was the second driver to make his choice, opted to start in sixth position with Vasily Gryazin – third fastest in qualifying – selecting fifth place on the road.

    Crews are now preparing for the ceremonial start in Liepāja at 14:45hrs local time. The first of 15 stages, Rallyofchampions.com (Podnieki), goes live at 17:10hrs and covers a distance of 6.16 kilometres.

    Starting position selections:

    1 Ketomaa/Lindström (Ford Fiesta RRC)

    2 Plangi/Sarapuu (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X R4)
    3 Švedas/Sakalauskas (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X)
    4 Breen/Moynihan (Peugeot 207 S2000)
    5 Gryazin/Chumak (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX R4)
    6 Lukyanuk/Arnautov (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X)
    7 Kisiels/Ronis (MINI John Cooper Works RRC)
    8 Delecour/Savignoni (Peugeot 207 S2000)
    9 Černy/Kohout (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)
    10 Orsák/Šmeidler (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX)
    11 Tlusťák/Vyoral (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)
    12 Puskádi/Gódor (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)

    All non-priority drivers will start in seeded order with Latvia’s Raul Jeets 13th on the road followed by Subaru Impreza driver Marco Tempestini from Romania.

    click: fiaerc.com/news/id/195

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    After SS1: Breen on a flyer to take rally lead

    Craig Breen leads Rally Liepāja-Ventspils, round two of the FIA European Rally Championship after setting the pace on stage one, Rallyofchampions.com.

    Irishman Breen, in a Saintéloc Peugeot Rally Academy 207 Super 2000, was 0.3s faster than top seed Jari Ketomaa over the 6.16-kilometre stage located east of Liepāja in a time of 3m16.6s.

    Behind Finnish Ford Fiesta RRC driver Ketomaa, Vasily Gryazin was the top Latvian and leading ERC Production Car Cup competitor in third place, 4.5s down on Breen. François Delecour was fourth quickest in his Visit Romania-backed 207, 0.2s adrift of Gryazin. Vytatutas Švedas, from Lithuania, was fifth quickest in a Mitsubishi Lancer.

    click: fiaerc.com/news/id/200

    Stage Times: fiaerc.com/events/live/

    ------------------

    After SS2: Delecour takes third as Breen grows lead

    Craig Breen has claimed his second stage victory of Rally Liepāja-Ventspils to grow his overall advantage on the FIA European Rally Championship round to 3.0s.
    The Saintéloc Peugeot Rally Academy driver took 9m14.2s to complete the 16.8-kilometre Volkswagen stage in his Peugeot 207 Super 2000, which took place in the dark.

    Afterwards, he suggested to ERC Rally Radio’s Chris Rawes that he’d suffered a big moment in the stage: “I can’t believe it – somebody’s looking after me today, I really do think that.”

    Russian Mitsubishi Lancer driver Alexey Lukyanuk impressed with the second fastest time, 1.8s down on Breen, with Jari Ketomaa third quickest in his Autotek Motorsport Ford Fiesta RRC. “It was okay but I was struggling in some fast places to trust the car enough,” said Finn Ketomaa.

    François Delecour said his decision to use a short ratio gearbox had affected his outright speed in his Peugeot but his fourth-fastest time nevertheless put him up to third place in the overall standings after Russian Vasily Gryazin – who competes under a Latvian licence – slipped back.

    Siim Plangi reported a dislike of driving at night and was 20.8s slower than Breen in his Lancer R4. “It was real bad,” said the Estonian. “I was too scared and lost so much time on braking. The night doesn’t suit me.”

    Jan Černý, the ERC 2WD champion from 2012, reported problems with the brakes on his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, which caused him to suffer an overshoot.

    click: fiaerc.com/news/id/202

    Stage Times: fiaerc.com/events/live/

    ----------------------

    After SS3: Door drama for Delecour

    François Delecour continues to belie his 50 years by setting the second fastest time on Friday’s final test, despite completing much of the 18.73-kilometre LDz Cargo stage with his car’s door open.
    Delecour was 2.8s slower than stage winner and fellow Peugeot 207 Super 2000 driver Craig Breen to close up to Jari Ketomaa in the battle for second overall on Rally Liepāja-Ventspils, round two of the FIA European Rally Championship. Ketomaa, in a Ford Fiesta RRC, is 3.0s behind Breen.
    “It was just impossible to close the door,” Delecour told ERC Rally Radio’s Julian Porter at the stage finish. “Every right turn it was coming open, sometimes in sixth gear. I drove most of the stage like this.”
    There was disappointment for Vasily Gryazin, who started the stage in sixth overall but has plummeted down the order after damaging the rear suspension of his Mitsubishi Lancer hitting something in the dark.
    Jan Černý’s brake woes continue with the Czech reporting that he only has working brakes on three corners of his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.
    Crews are now heading back to Liepāja for overnight service via an autograph signing session in the city. Saturday’s action begins with the second running of LDz Cargo at 10:20hrs local time.

    click: fiaerc.com/news/id/203

    Stage Times: fiaerc.com/events/live/


    ...
    Last edited by Weasel 555; 02-01-2013 at 09:38 AM.

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    Rally Liepāja-Ventspils Day 1 report: Breen tops close fight.

    The new-look FIA European Rally Championship’s first visit to Latvia for Rally Liepāja-Ventspils is already producing serious competition in abundance with a mere 12.1s covering the top three drivers after Friday’s opening trio of ice-coated stages.

    Irishman Craig Breen, in a Saintéloc Peugeot Rally Academy 207 Super 2000, leads the event by 6.4s with Jari Ketomaa next up in a Ford Fiesta RRC. François Delecour is third at the overnight halt in Liepāja, 5.7s behind Ketomaa, despite completing much of Friday evening’s final test with the door of his Peugeot refusing to close.
    “Even as a kid I had a dream of leading a rally like this,” said Breen, who was quickest on all three stages alongside co-driver David Moynihan. “I wasn’t taking any risks, just driving in the middle of the road. To be leading this rally into the night makes me so proud and I hope it’s the start of a fantastic journey. The conditions have been tough but I’m on cloud nine at the moment.”

    Finn Ketomaa, who opted to run first on the road after winning this morning’s Qualifying Stage, remains firmly in the hunt for victory starting day two with Delecour also well placed in third. In addition to the problem with his car’s door, the French rallying legend also reported being slowed by his decision to use a short-ratio gearbox after he was unable to conduct a pre-event test.

    Russian Alexey Lukyanuk is fourth and the top ERC Production Car Cup contender in a Mitsubishi Lancer with Vytatutas Švedas in fifth. The Lithuanian reached the end of stage three with only half of his car’s lightpod working and dropped time as a result.

    Vasily Gryazin suffered considerable delay reaching the finish of the run after stopping to repair damaged suspension following an off. He was third overall after stage one. Estonian youngster Siim Plangi – who is sixth overnight – admitted his dislike of driving in the dark had affected his pace, while Raimonds Kisiels is the top Latvian in seventh in a MINI John Cooper Works RRC.

    Vitaliy Pushkar, from Ukraine, has cancelled out a lowly starting position of 20th by completing day one in eighth place. Aivis Egle is ninth with Jan Černý languishing in 10th after brake issues struck his family-run ŠKODA Fabia S2000.

    Frigyes Turán is the leading Subaru Impreza driver in 14th, one position ahead of French rising star Stéphane Lefebvre, who tops the ERC 2WD Championship classification in 15th at the wheel of a Peugeot 208 R2. Risto Immonen is his closest pursuer in the two-wheel-drive division, 10.6s behind with Hannes Danzinger, the 2WD title leader, next up in a Renault Clio R3. Zbyněk Baller is the top Honda Civic pilot in 37th overall.

    Saturday’s action begins with the second running of the LDz Cargo stage at 10:20hrs local time. There will be six stages in total on day two, which concludes in the city of Ventspils, which is located 120 kilometres up the Baltic coast.

    click: fiaerc.com/news/id/204


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    Proof of the awesomeness that is François Delecour
    http://www.fiaerc.com/videogallery/d...-Savignoni-SS3

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    Billyee, see how he used the door to help rotate the car round the corners

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    Sat Day 2

    Birthday boy Breen not feeling the cold


    Leg two of Rally Liepāja-Ventspils is about to get underway with event leader and birthday boy Craig Breen insisting he’s not feeling the cold.

    Ambient temperatures plunged overnight and competitors staying in Liepāja awoke to a fresh coating of snow.

    “It’s cold but when you are leading you don’t feel it,” said Breen, who turns 23 today.

    Breen and co-driver David Moyinhan currently lead the FIA European Rally Championship event by 6.4s from Jari Ketomaa and Kaj Lindström. They are running 12th on the road.

    Leg two features six stages over a competitive distance of 92.05 kilometres. There are 36 crews restarting.



    -------------------

    After SS4: Breen scores fourth stage best in Latvia

    Craig Breen has begun his 23rd birthday in style by winning stage four of Rally Liepāja-Ventspils, which was run for the first time under the cover of darkness last night.

    Breen, in a Peugeot Rally Academy-Saintéloc 207 Super 2000 was 3.7s faster than Ford Fiesta RRC driver Jari Ketomaa to build his lead on the FIA European Rally Championship qualifier to 10.1s.

    “I had a little bit of a push in there,” said the now 23-year-old Irishman. “I’m really comfortable with that pace, the car is incredible, so good to drive.”

    Ketomaa said he wasn’t entirely happy with the set-up of his Autotek Motorsport entry: “The grip on the road is a lot better compared to the test so I’m struggling a bit with the set-up of this car. I try to change it on the road section.”

    Alexey Lukyanuk continues to lead the ERC Production Car Cup in his Mitsubishi Lancer by going third fastest overall: “Today everything is 100 per cent,” said the Russian. “I am confident with no mistakes at all. I am pleased with my pace.”

    François Delecour, who was 15.1s down on Breen, felt he could have gone faster but for the short-ratio gearbox fitted to his Munaretto Sport Peugeot. “I went maximum, I was on the limiter in too many places because I have the ratio too short.”

    Jan Černy reported an upturn in confidence following a troubled opening leg in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, setting the sixth best time in the process. Raimonds Kisiels, meanwhile, picked up a 10-second penalty for a jumped start. He drops to eighth behind Vitaliy Pushkar as a result.

    click: fiaerc.com/news/id/221

    Stage Times: fiaerc.com/events/live/id/2

    -------------------

    After SS5: Ketomaa fears Breen is too fast

    Jari Ketomaa has conceded that he’s struggling to catch Craig Breen in the battle for victory on round two of the FIA European Rally Championship in Latvia.

    Ketomaa is now 10.7s behind Craig Breen, who made it five stage wins out of five on Rally Liepāja-Ventspils despite striking a large rock midway through the 16.88-kilometre Volkswagen 2 stage.

    “Craig is doing very, very well and I can’t go much faster,” said Ketomaa, who was 0.6s slower than Breen at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RRC. “I am struggling with the turning on the car and it’s too soft for this amount of grip.”

    Breen, meanwhile, said he feared he’d picked up a front-right puncture following his incident. “In the middle I hit a big stone or a rock and thought I had a puncture,” said the Peugeot Rally Academy-Saintéloc ace. “I didn’t have the confidence after that and dropped a few good seconds.”

    François Delecour continues to be hamstrung by his decision to select a short-ratio gearbox for his debut in Latvia, which is affecting his outright speed. He was sixth fastest, 11.3s down on stage winner Breen. “We were 15s on the limiter, we have no choice we didn’t do any test and it’s like that,” said the French legend.

    Vytautas Švedas continues to press on in the ERC Production Car Cup even though he’s driving “carefully” in order to preserve his tyres over this morning’s three stages. The Lithuanian was 4.4s slower than Alexey Lukyanuk, who now tops the showroom division by 38.1s.

    Czech privateer Jan Černy said he was too careful in the opening kilometres of the stage in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, while Siim Plangi said his Mitsubishi Lancer’s tyre pressures were too low.

    click: fiaerc.com/news/id/222


    Stage Times: fiaerc.com/events/live/id/2


    -------------------

    After SS6: Ketomaa snatches the lead in Latvia

    Jari Ketomaa has shot into the lead of Rally Liepāja-Ventspils after Craig Breen dropped back on stage six of the FIA European Rally Championship counter.

    Despite reporting a “big moment through a snow bank” approximately three kilometres from the finish of the 21.31-kilometre Nest Oil run, Finn Ketomaa was 11.7s quicker than his rival to take a one-second advantage to midday service in Ventspils.

    “I’m not overly surprised, it was going to happen at some stage because I’m driving very much within myself,” said Breen. “I’m not worried about because I can still find something, I should be fine.”

    Ketomaa said: “I was unbelievable, I was completely flat out and we had one big moment through a snow bank after a crest.”

    Alexey Lukyanuk continues to excel in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X with the Russian ERC Production Car Cup leader now 4.6s behind third-placed François Delecour.

    “It was really incredible high speeds on this stage with fast flowing corners,” said Lukyanuk, who was fourth quickest through the stage. “It was a nice and exciting feeling and finally the time is good. I was a bit nervous because it was the first run and some corners were really slippery. There were lots of spectators in some sections.”

    Jan Černý described the stage as one of the best he’d ever tackled despite experiencing a “big” moment during the run in his family-prepared ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000. The Czech impressed with the second fastest time, 8.0s down on Ketomaa.

    Siim Plangi reported a significant lack of grip due to damage to the studs in his front tyres. Vytautas Švedas admitted to making a few mistakes in the narrow opening section

    Stéphane Lefebvre has maintained his lead of the ERC 2WD Championship in his Peugeot 208 R2.

    Following a 30-minute service halt in Ventspils, stage seven, the first running of Ventbunkers 1, goes live at 15:20hrs local time.

    click: fiaerc.com/news/id/224

    Stage Times: fiaerc.com/events/live/id/2


    ...

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    After SS7: Lukyanuk closes on Delecour

    Alexey Lukyanuk has closed to within one second of François Delecour in his pursuit of the final podium spot on Rally Liepāja-Ventspils.

    The Russian clocked 200kph in his showroom-specification Mitsubishi Lancer on the high-speed, 10.42-kilometre Ventbunkers run, which he completed 2.2s slower than stage winner Jari Ketomaa in a Ford Fiesta RRC.

    Finn Ketomaa was in turn 0.5s quicker than Craig Breen to grow his overall advantage ahead of the Irishman to 1.5s with two stages of leg two remaining.

    “I had new tyres and they gave me so much grip,” said Lukyanuk, who holds a strong lead in the FIA ERC Production Car Cup. “I was too slow in the first part of the stage because you need time to get used to more grip. It was a fast road and I am happy.”

    Delecour once again bemoaned his normally-aspirated Peugeot 207 Super 2000’s lack of outright grunt compared to its turbocharged rivals. “I was on the limiter all the time, it was a crazy stage and I lose so much time,” he said.

    Breen, meanwhile, said he wasn’t entirely happy with his driving. “I was very sloppy in places and wasn’t too happy with my driving. I’m shocked I didn’t lose more time.”

    Estonian Siim Plangi said he nearly went off the road on two occasions in his R4-specification Mitsubishi Lancer. “It was fifth gear at maximum speed. Two more metres and I would have rolled into the field,” he told ERC Rally Radio’s Julian Porter.

    Jan Černý reported losing time due to a lack of grip. “We had used tyres for this stage,” said the Czech privateer. “Because of this we didn’t have so many studs.”

    click: fiaerc.com/news/id/229

    Stage Times: fiaerc.com/events/live/id/2

    --------------------

    After SS8: Ketomaa on a charge in Latvia as Lukyanuk takes third

    Jari Ketomaa leads Rally Liepāja-Ventspils by 7.0s with one stage of leg two left to run.

    Ketomaa was 5.5s faster than Craig Breen through the second pass of the high-speed, 21.31-kilometre Neste Oil test in his turbocharged Ford Fiesta RRC.

    “It was a very nice flowing stage and it went well,” said Ketomaa. “I made a couple of mistakes and braked too early for a few places. I’m not completely familiar with the movement of the car and it’s very tricky for the set-up because some stages you have good grip and some stages not so much.”

    Breen, in a normally-aspirated Peugeot 207 Super 2000, said: “I set a goal not to lose too much time and I’m in a good position to fight for tomorrow. I’m a young kid and I have the possibility of winning a European championship rally so why shouldn’t I go for it? We’ve got a little bit left in the tank.”

    In the battle for third place, Alexey Lukyanuk has moved ahead of François Delecour, who once again bemoaned his car’s lack of outright grunt on the super-fast stages.

    Raimond Kisiels has dropped behind Siim Plangi into eighth place. The Latvian feared he had damaged his MINI John Cooper Works RRC when he reach the stage finish.

    click: fiaerc.com/news/id/230

    Stage Times: fiaerc.com/events/live/id/2

    --------------------

    After SS9: Ketomaa makes it four in a row in Latvia

    Jari Ketomaa has completed day two of Rally Liepāja-Ventspils with his fourth stage win of the FIA European Rally Championship counter.

    Ketomaa, in a Ford Fiesta Regional Rally Car, set the pace through the 3.40-kilometre Ventspils kalns spectator stage, going 5.0s faster than Jan Černy and 5.1s quicker than Craig Breen. It means the Finn’s overnight lead ahead of Peugeot driver Breen stands at 12.1s heading into Sunday’s final six stages.

    “It’s a very good day and I’m very satisfied,” said Ketomaa. “I enjoyed the stages and I knew the pace would come when I got into the rhythm.”

    Breen reported being caught out by a few patches of fog, which meant he wasn’t as committed as he would ordinarily have been in certain corners.

    Based at Ventspils’ Adventure Park and using part of the venue’s artificial ski slope, the stage provided crews with a rare respite from the high-speed stages this afternoon. “The stage was fun, just for spectators,” said top Lithuanian driver Vytautas Švedas, who was the fastest ERC Production Car Cup contender in his Mitsubishi Lancer. “There was fog and some unusual things but I liked it.

    Leg three begins with the second run of Ventbunkers at 08:30hrs local time on Sunday 3 February. The finish is scheduled for 15:35hrs in Ventspils.

    click: fiaerc.com/news/id/232

    Stage Times: fiaerc.com/events/live/id/2



    ....

  11. #9
    into right 2 tightens Weasel 555's Avatar
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    Rally Liepāja-Ventspils day two report: Ketomaa heads ERC Latvian epic

    Jari Ketomaa has reversed an overnight deficit of 6.4 seconds to lead Rally Liepāja-Ventspils by 12.1s following a day of high-speed FIA European Rally Championship action in the ice and snow of Latvia.

    Craig Breen, who led after winning Friday’s trio of stages, celebrated his 23rd birthday in style by topping Saturday’s opening two runs. But on the super-fast Neste Oil stage the Irishman’s normally aspirated Peugeot 207 Super 2000 lacked the outright speed needed to fend off Ketomaa’s turbocharged Ford Fiesta RRC. As a result, the Finn took a one-second advantage to the midday service halt in Ventspils.

    With another flat-out test, Ventbunkers, plus the repeat of Neste Oil, making up the bulk of the afternoon’s competitive action, Breen was powerless to prevent Ketomaa from edging into a seven-second advantage starting the Ventspils spectator stage located in the grounds of the city’s artificial ski slope. Despite his best efforts, Breen lost more ground there when patches of fog meant he couldn’t fully commit in several corners.

    “It’s a very good day and I’m very satisfied,” said Ketomaa, who is being navigated in his Autotek Motorsport entry by Kimi Räikkönen’s former co-driver Kaj Lindström. “I really enjoyed the stages when they were completely full of ice. I hadn’t driven a car since last summer before yesterday so I wasn’t trying too hard because I knew the pace would come when I got into a rhythm.”

    Despite losing top spot and the seven bonus points on offer for winning leg two, Breen was pleased with his performance for the Peugeot Rally Academy-Saintéloc operation. “I never expected to be leading this rally at any stage so I’m chuffed to be in a position where I can still fight for the win tomorrow. The Regional Rally Car can do up to 200kph and this car is only designed to do 170kph or thereabouts. But I’m not going to throw in the towel. I’m going to go for it.”

    Alexey Lukyanuk made the most of his turbocharged Mitsubishi Lancer’s top speed of 210kph – not to mention some impressive driving – to catch and pass François Delecour’s 207 Super 2000 for third place. Delecour bemoaned his decision to bring two short-ratio gearboxes to Latvia, which compromised his car’s top-end power. “I was on the rev limiter so often it was crazy,” said Delecour, who trails his Russian rival and the ERC Production Car Cup pacesetter by 14.0s starting the longest leg of the rally on Sunday.

    Lithuania’s Vytautas Švedas is fifth despite a sleepless night caused by partying guests at the hotel where he was staying. The Mitsubishi driver is 9.8s clear of Jan Černý, who has grown his pace and confidence in his family-run ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, going second fastest on two stages. Behind seventh-placed Siim Plangi, Raimonds Kisiels remains the top Latvian competitor in the MINI John Cooper Works RRC he is driving in competition for the first time on the back of a 40-kilometre test. Vitaliy Pushkar, from Ukraine, is ninth with Latvian Aivis Egle 10th.

    Stéphane Lefebvre, who is giving Peugeot’s 208 R2 its ERC debut, holds a 10.4s-advantage over Risto Immonen (Citroën C2 R2) in the chase for ERC 2WD Championship honours. Lefebvre had never competed on snow and ice before arriving in Latvia but continues to sparkle. Title leader Hannes Danzinger is third in his Renault Clio R3.

    Frigyes Turán is the leading Subaru Impreza driver in 12th overall with Zbyněk Baller still on course to finish in his Honda Civic. Jarosláv Orsak is the GPD Mit Metal Racing Team’s leading representative in 13th with Romanian Marco Tempestini the top Napoca Rally Team runner in 26th.

    Sunday’s route starts and finishes in Ventspils with all but one stage based around the town of Kuldīga to the south where a remote service will also be held. In total there are six stages over a competitive distance of 109.18 kilometres.

    click: fiaerc.com/news/id/233


    ...

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