Thawing snow made conditions treacherous on the first day of Rally Liepaja, round two of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship, but it was Irishman Craig Breen that came out on top after many of his rivals, including Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Alexey Lukyanuk, hit trouble. The Peugeot Academy driver won four of the five stages today and takes a lead of 1 min 23 sec over Siim Plangi who holds second overall and the lead in ERC2.
First blood went to Lukyanuk, the Russian driver managed to clear stage 1 with a time of 9:15.6 and took an early lead. Breen was a close second only 0.7 seconds slower with championship leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz a further 10 seconds behind in third.
Drama was to follow on the second test as Lukyanuk crashed out of the event. The Russian slid wide on a fast left hand bend and rolled his Ford Fiesta R5 into a ditch. Breen inherited the lead and won the stage by 8.9 seconds to lead Kajetanowicz by 18.8 seconds. Siim Plangi moved into third overall and held a commanding lead in ERC2. He led Dominykas Butvilas by 1 min and 27 sec. Breen completed the afternoon stages by winning the third test heading into service with a 21 second lead over Kajetanowicz.
Into the evening tests and the Irishman managed to extend his advantage albeit by a small margin. Breen took the stage win by just 1.6 seconds over Kajetanowicz as the drivers continued to struggle with the conditions.
Drama was to follow on the final stage of the day as Kajetanowicz broke a wheel and slid of the road five kilometres from the start of the stage. The Poles retirement promoted Plangi into second place with local driver Ralf Sirmacis inheriting third. It wasn’t all bad news for Kajetan Kajetanowicz as the Pole still claimed the 2015 ERC Ice Master title.
In ERC2 Siim Plangi dominated the field on day 1 in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and leads Lithuania’s Dominykas Butvilas by almost three minutes. Local driver Janis Vorobjovs holds third place heading into the second leg.
Emil Bergkvist leads the ERC Junior rally and ERC3 for the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team after leg 1. The Swedish driver holds a 15.7 seconds advantage over Mattias Adielsson with Steve Rokland a further 3.4 seconds adrift in third.
Day 2 brings a further seven stages for the crews to tackle with the 22.32 kilometre Liepaja Iedvesmo Vecpils 1 and 2 tests being the longest. The rally restarts at 08:30 tomorrow morning and concludes in Rozu Square in Liepaja tomorrow evening where the winner will be crowned.