Jari Ketomaa has begun the third and final leg of Rally Liepāja-Ventspils with victory on stage 10, the second run through the 10.42-kilometres of Ventbunkers.
Driving an Autotek Motorsport Ford Fiesta RRC, Finn Ketomaa stopped the clocks in a time of 4m53.7s, a scant 0.2s quicker than the next fastest driver, the Irishman Craig Breen.
“It was quite okay,” said Ketomaa, whose overall advantage increases to 12.3s. “I made the front of the car a little bit stiffer so it wasn’t a great stage to do that as I was struggling a bit with the turning. I didn’t take any big risks but I will soften the car for the next one because there is more ice.”
Breen said he was hamstrung by the lack of top-end speed generated by his Peugeot 207 Super 2000’s normally-aspirated engine in comparison to the turbocharged unit in Ketomaa’s Fiesta. “I was on the rev limiter for 70 per cent of the stage,” said Breen. “There wasn’t much more I could do but I’m happy enough.”
In the battle for third between Alexey Lukyanuk and François Delecour, Lukyanuk was 0.6s quicker than his rival but said he was more intent on preserving his grip on the final podium spot rather than chasing more rapid stage times following his heroics on leg two.
“We are trying to save our tyres a bit,” said the Russian. “We have used on the back and new on the front so we won’t push as hard as yesterday. We are trying to keep the position and control the pace.”
Delecour, meanwhile, said: “It’s always the same story. Our top speed with this [short-ratio] gearbox is 160kph so we have to wait, wait and wait.”
Jan Černı, the underfunded Czech driver and reigning ERC 2WD champion, has fitted a new set of studded tyres to his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000: “It’s the first time with new tyres and I was not so sure how good the grip was so I wasn’t fast enough in some of the corners. The speed can get better.”
Vytautas Švedas conceded he’d made a few mistakes during the run. The Lithuanian overshot a junction and also braked too early for a corner. Estonian Siim Plangi also wasn’t entirely satisfied with his performance: “The sped only came at the end of the stage. I can improve,” he said.
After SS11: Delecour reclaims third place in Latvia
François Delecour is back into third place on Rally Liepāja-Ventspils despite a trip through a field on the first Swecon stage in his Visit Romania-backed Peugeot 207 Super 2000.
Delecour was 15.5s quicker than Alexey Lukyanuk, who reported making a few mistakes on the 21.34-kilometre ice-coated test. Delecour’s advantage is now 0.9s with four stages of the FIA European Rally Championship round remaining.
In the battle for first place, Jari Ketomaa was one of several drivers to express their concern that the stage finish was located approximately 200 metres later than indicated in the event road book. Despite driving slowly to the end of the run, he was 1.8s quicker than close rival Craig Breen. His lead is now 14.1s.
Jan Černı continues to impress in his family-run ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, setting the third fastest time to climb ahead of Vytautas Švedas, who completed the stage with a missing wing mirror after he was delayed passing Siim Plangi’s stricken Mitsubishi Lancer. Plangi is understood to have gone off the road and damaged a wheel. Meanwhile, a transmission issue is slowing Vitaliy Pushkar.
János Puskádi lost time when he missed a junction: “This stage was extremely slippery and I was scary all the time. We missed one junction and had to reverse. I lost a lot of time.”
GPD Mit Metal Racing Team’s Antonín Tlusťák, whose pace was compromised on leg two by a poor set of pacenotes, said: “It was a good stage, but surprisingly a lot of ice. Yesterday we had bit troubles with pacenotes, now it's okay. We have to finish."
Finn Risto Immonen has moved ahead of Stéphane Lefebvre in the ERC 2WD Championship by a slender margin of 0.4s despite reporting five or 10 moments. Lefebvre reported a problem selecting gears on his Peugeot 208 R2. Title leader Hannes Danzinger retired on the previous stage with a broken water pump on his Renault Clio R3. Elwis Chentre is also in trouble with his ŠKODA Fabia R2 suffering a suspected clutch issue.
After SS12: Flying Ketomaa maintains strong Latvian pace
Jari Ketomaa will arrive at the remote service halt in Kuldīga with a lead of 19.5s in the battle for victory on Rally Liepāja-Ventspils, round two of the FIA European Rally Championship.
Ketomaa continued his sequence of stage wins with the fastest time through the 26.34-kilometre Kuldīga test in his Ford Fiesta RRC to grow his overall advantage ahead of Craig Breen.
Breen, in a Peugeot 207 Super 2000, was 5.4s slower than Ketomaa but did not stop at the stage finish to speak to ERC Rally Radio’s Julian Porter amid concerns that he’s possibly carrying a technical problem.
Jan Černı said he struggled to find a good rhythm for the first 10 kilometres but still managed to set the third quickest time to increase his grip on fifth position in his family-run ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.
Mitsubishi Lancer driver Vytautas Švedes, meanwhile, suggested he would be settling for sixth rather than attempting to retake fifth from Černı.
After SS13: Lukyanuk reignites battle for third in Latvia
Alexey Lukyanuk has reignited the battle for third place on Rally Liepāja-Ventspils by taking 9.6s out of legendary Frenchman François Delecour on the repeat of Swecon.
Following the 21.34-kilometre test, Lukyanuk is now 1.7s behind Delecour with two stages of the FIA European Rally Championship round remaining.
“This is what I want, super, super,” said the Russian, whose decision to use worn tyres and drop his pace this in his Mitsubishi Lancer this morning backfired when Delecour reclaimed the third place he lost on Saturday afternoon. “We have new tyres so we have a new life and now we can push like hell.”
Delecour, in a Peugeot 207 Super 2000, conceded that he’d suffered a few moments due to the slippery nature of the stage surface. “The road is more slippery than before because the studs are moving too much. One or two times it was not very nice,” said Delecour.
Out front, Craig Breen has brought Jari Ketomaa’s sequence of stage wins to an end by topping the times on Swecon. The Irish 207 ace was 1.2s quicker than Ford Fiesta RRC-driving Ketomaa but heads to the final full-length stage of the rally 18.3s adrift of the Finn in the overall classification.
“I’m very happy,” said Ketomaa at the stage finish. “I don’t want to take any risks, everything is under control.”
Crews are now on route to the Kuldīga stage, the rally’s longest at 26.34-kilometre.
Alexey Lukyanuk’s bid for a podium finish on Rally Liepāja-Ventspils has ended in heartbreak after he was reported to have stopped four kilometres from the finish of the penultimate 26.34-kilometre test.
Lukyanuk, in a showroom-specification Mitsubishi Lancer, had closed to within 1.7s of François Delecour (Peugeot 207 Super 2000) in the battle for third place with a storming time through stage 13. However, it is understood the impressive Russian will go no further on the FIA European Rally Championship event.
Craig Breen, who was running behind Lukyanuk on the road, said: “The poor devil was three or four kilometres from here. It looks like he’s hit the sump because there was a big trail of oil behind him. It’s a pity for him because he’d been going well.”
Breen, meanwhile, had problems of his own after completing the stage 12.4s slower than rally leader Jari Ketomaa in a Ford Fiesta RRC. “It sounds like we have a broken manifold because it’s making a hell of a noise,” said Breen. “That stage was horrendously tricky with the studs moving about all over the place at high speed.”
The event concludes with the Ventspils klans 2 stage at 15:00hrs local time. Ketomaa leads the ERC round by 30.7s.
Jari Ketomaa has won Rally Liepāja-Ventspils, round two of the FIA European Rally Championship.
Driving a Ford Fiesta RRC, Ketomaa and co-driver Kaj Lindström completed Sunday’s final stage with a winning margin of 31.0s over Craig Breen and David Moynihan in a Peugeot 207 Super 2000, who settled for second after they lost precious seconds with an minor electrical issue on Sunday morning.
French pair François Delecour and Dominique Savignoni completed the podium following a close battle with Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov, which ended when the Russians retired with a suspected mechanical issue on stage 14.
Their exit handed the ERC Production Car Cup honours to Lithuanians Vytautas Švedas and Žilvinas Sakalauskas in a Mitsubishi Lancer. They finished sixth overall.
Jan Černı and Pavel Kohout took fourth place in a privately-run ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 by winning the final stage. “I really wanted to win this stage but I made a lot of mistakes,” said young Czech driver Černı.
Delecour also reported a minor scare on the 3.40-kilometre Ventspils kalns spectator stage, which brought the ERC action in Latvia to an exciting climax. “I don’t know about the jump and I jumped too much,” said Delecour. “I think I touched something because the car feels strange.”
Raimonds Kisiels was the top local runner home in fifth overall following a spectacular jump on the final stage in his MINI John Cooper Works RRC. He was second fastest, 2.7s down on Černı.
Risto Immonen was leading the ERC 2WD Championship heading to the final stage.
Rally Liepāja-Ventspils day 3 report: Latvia ERC joy for Ketomaa
Jari Ketomaa made history today when he won the first FIA European Rally Championship event to take place in Latvia.
The Finn’s success on Rally Liepāja-Ventspils followed three days of thrilling high-speed competition on ice and snow-coated roads between the two Baltic cities. While Ketomaa excelled alongside Kimi Räikkönen’s former co-driver Kaj Lindström in a Ford Fiesta RRC, there were standout performances too from Peugeot 207 Super 2000-driving Irishman Craig Breen, who finished second, and third-planced François Delecour. The Frenchman secured the final podium place in another Peugeot after a close battle with Russian Alexey Lukyanuk.
Lukyanuk, who was leading the ERC Production Car Cup, was 1.7s behind Delecour with two stages left when a brush with a snowbank damaged his car’s oil cooler and forced him to retire. However, Lukyanuk won’t be leaving Latvia empty-handed after he was chosen as the recipient of the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy, while multiple Baltic and Lithuanian champion Vytautas Švedas inherited the showroom category laurels in a similar Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.
There was also success for Finland in the ERC 2WD Championship with Risto Immonen claiming victory in a Citroën C2 R2 Max after long-term leader Stéphane Lefebvre dropped down to second on the final morning when a gearbox issue slowed his Peugeot 208 R2. Nevertheless it was a hugely impressive showing by the young Frenchman, who had never competed on snow or ice.
Ketomaa had trailed Breen over the opening five stages but moved in front on stage six when the additional top-end speed of his turbocharged engine told on the super-fast roads. Breen remained in contention until stage 12 when a minor electrical glitch cost him precious time and prompted him to settle for a strong second place.
“I’m really happy with this result after two years of bad luck,” said Ketomaa, who moves to the top of the ERC drivers’ standings following his triumph. “We didn’t want to take any risks and knew that we would settle into a rhythm after the first day. The feeling was really good and the conditions on the rally were extreme with very high speeds and lots of frozen gravel. But we never stopped believing in the work we could do and the team has done a great job.”
Despite losing out on top spot, Breen was more than satisfied with second on his first of eight planned ERC appearances with the Peugeot Rally Academy-Saintéloc team. “I’m overwhelmed to even have been in contention for victory,” he said. “I came here to finish on the podium and that’s exactly what I’ve done. I wasn’t pushing over the top, the wins will come this season.”
For rallying legend Delecour, his decision to run with a short-ratio gearbox masked his ultimate pace while there were also a few dramatic moments including a high-speed trip through a field and a scare on Friday night when he completed much of stage three with his door flying open.
Reigning ERC 2WD champion Jan Černı celebrated his first outright European championship stage win with the fastest time on the closing spectator stage in Ventspils to secure fourth overall in his family-run ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000. Raimonds Kisiels charged through the order to claim fifth and the honour of being the top Latvian finisher in his MINI John Cooper Works RRC, which he was using in competition for the first time on the back of a 40-kilometre pre-event test.
Behind Švedas, Aivis Egle finished seventh, Raul Jeets took eighth with Jarsoláv Orsak scoring strong points in the European Rally Championship for Teams for the GPD Mit Metal Racing squad in ninth overall. Vitaliy Pushkar overcame transmission issues to complete the top 10 with Frigyes Turán the leading Subaru Impreza finisher in 11th.
Marco Tempestini headed the Napoca Rally Academy challenge in 20th with Zbyněk Baller reaching the finish in a Eurosol Honda Civic. However, there was disappointment for ERC 2WD title leader Hannes Danzinger, who retired his Renault Clio R3 with water pump failure on Sunday’s first stage.
Rally Islas Canarias replaces the Circuit of Ireland Rally on the ERC schedule for 2013. The asphalt stages use a mixture of narrow and fast undulating sections. The surface is abrasive meaning grip levels are high but tyre wear can be at a premium.