2016 Rally Liepaja analysis: What did we learn from Latvia?

Round nine of the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship, Rally Liepaja closed a number of plots in the story that is the 2016 ERC series, Kajetan Kajetanowicz succesfully retained his title, Wojciech Chuchała claimed the ERC2 title and Marijan Griebel secured the ERC Junior crown but the season isn’t over yet and there is much to discuss after Latvia.

Ralfs Sirmacis a star of the future?

Credit: ERC Media

Local driver and rising talent Ralfs Sirmacis secured his third win of the season on his home round in Latvia in the Sports Racing Technologies-run, Skoda Baltic Motorsport-supported Fabia R5 and the Latvian has certainly proven his potential.

The 22 year old won on the Acropolis, in Estonia and won all but two of the stages on Rally Liepaja at the weekend. Sirmacis is just two points behind Russian Alexey Lukyanuk in the title standings despite the fact that he hasn’t contested a full program in the ERC for 2016.

If the Latvian star, who took runners up spot in the ERC Junior category last season, is to do the full championship next season he has to be considered among the title favourites.

Griebel set for R5 debut in Cyprus after win in Latvia

Credit: ERC Media

Marijan Griebel is set to contest his first rally in a R5 machine on the final round of the series in Cyprus next month. The German will contest the event in a Skoda Fabia R5 prepared by Motorsport Italia.

His win in Latvia made him the only driver in the ERC Junior category to win multiple events so far this season and it will be interesting to see how he adapts to the step up to R5 machinery.  

“I’m really, really looking forward to Cyprus: it has been one of my dreams to sit in an R5 car one day,”  said Griebel after winning in Latvia.

The German hasn’t competed in Cyprus before so it will be a completely new experience for the ERC Junior champion.

We may not have seen the end of Larsen

Credit: ERC Media

Norway’s Frank Tore Larsen is aiming to compete on more ERC events next season in his Ford Fiesta R5.

The Norwegian competed on only his second event in the series in Latvia and despite rolling on SS9 the Fiesta driver showed good pace and was encouraged by his performance. 

“I don’t think we’ll do Cyprus, but we’d like to do many more rounds next year: a proper programme,” said Larsen.

“I really like the championship and I’ve seen that we can be quite competitive. Of course it depends on finding the sponsorship, but this is where we want to be.”

His pace on both the Azores rally and Rally Liepaja saw him setting times in the top six and with a few more events under his belt he could be troubling the top three in no time.