European Rally Championship

2020 Rally Liepāja: Solberg Holds on to Lead After Dramatic Final Stage

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Solberg has a 10.0 seconds lead after Saturday. Photo Credit: Thomas Fenetre / DPPI

Oliver Solberg has a 10.0 seconds lead over Mads Østberg at the end of day one of Rally Liepāja, as second placed Nikolay Gryazin crashed out on the last test.

The pair had battled closely throughout Saturday and traded fastest stage times throughout the day, with Solberg’s lead at one point only being 1.3 seconds, before Gryazin went off on SS4 and retired from the event.

Gryazin’s car was badly damaged after his crash.

Dust affected many of the leading drivers, with Solberg himself also spinning on the same stage as Gryazin’s accident on top of dropping more time having to wait for better visibility midway through the stage.

Citreon WRC2 regular Ostberg sits second after Gryazin’s big off on SS4. Photo Credit: Thomas Fenetre / DPPI

But incredibly he still set the fifth fastest time, just six seconds slower than winner Alexey Lukyanuk. Østberg also took 3.5 seconds out of Solberg on the final stage, meaning the trio are split by 16.3 seconds going into Sunday.

Stage four also saw problems for Emil Lindholm, after the young Finn span twice and as a result has been leapfrogged by Lukyanuk, Eerik Pietarinen and MRF Tyres teammate Craig Breen on the leaderboard.

Breen admitted after the end of day one to struggling with the setup of his i20 R5 and is hoping that some tweaks made at the service halt will give him the pace he needs tomorrow.

The top 10 overall after Saturday’s four stages are rounded out by Grégoire Munster, Mikko Heikkilä, Raul Jeets and Erik Cais.

The top two drivers in ERC3 Junior are split by less than a second following the first four stage. Photo Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

ERC3 Junior leader going into stage four Ken Torn was also badly affected by the dust from cars ahead and the Estonian was passed by regular Junior WRC rival Mārtiņš Sesks for first position as a result.

Sesks now leads the class on his home event by just 0.3 seconds however, with Dennis Rådström sitting third in the class, 11.9 seconds further behind.

The expected ERC2 fight between Tibor Erdi Jr and Zelindo Mellegari appears not to be happening, with the Hungarian driver having built up a 51.9 seconds lead over closest challenger Dmitry Feofanov. Andrea Mabellini leads the Abarth Rally Cup after problems for Martin Rada at the end of day one.

Rally Liepāja continues tomorrow with a further six stages taking place throughout Sunday.

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