Race Reviews

A look ahead to Rally Liepaja, ERC round 2

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The rally in 100 words:

The brainchild of driver turned promoter Raimonds Strokšs and first run to great acclaim in 2013, Rally Liepāja was originally a winter event but switched to autumn in 2016 for more guaranteed weather. The new date effectively made for an all-new rally as crews adjusted to gravel roads free of snow and ice. Although the time of year had changed, the high-speed stages in western Latvia continued to thrill drivers and spectators alike. Organisers of this forward-thinking event made more changes for 2019 with a late May date and an expanded route taking in popular stages around the Talsi region.

The main changes for 2021:

Taking place in July for the first time, Rally Liepāja enters unchartered territory with a Saturday rather than a Sunday finish. Apart from SS7/SS10, Neste, all stages have been modified since 2020, when the event took place in mid-August.]

The route in short:

Rally Liepāja is all about high-speed gravel stages. Following Free Practice (14h15-17h15) and the Qualifying Stage (17h30) on July 1, crews head northeast from Liepāja to the city of Talsi on Friday July 2 where the opening leg’s six special stages are located. A remote service (15h05) at Talsi Airfield provides brief respite and a chance for minor repairs and new tyres. Crews are due back in Liepāja by 19h45. Saturday’s route (July 3) features two double-use stages (Neste – Paplaka – and Liepāja – Vecspils) plus the single-use Invest in Liepāja – Mazbojas – and Canon Biznesa centrs Liepāja – Podnieki). Three stages take place in the morning with a further three following midday service in Liepāja, where the finish is scheduled at 17h30. SS7/SS10 is located southeast of Liepāja with SS8/SS12, SS9 and SS11 run from east of the host city.

OVERVIEW

The all-action 2021 FIA European Rally Championship continues with Rally Liepāja, a second consecutive fast-paced gravel counter, from July 1-3.

A key component of the ERC calendar since it first ran in 2013, the Latvia-based event welcomes a record-breaking, talent-packed driver line-up, new cars, new teams, new categories, new rules, plus the latest crop of exciting young guns aiming to prove their worth as they continue the step up from national level to the world stage via the ERC.

While the ERC’s focus remains on providing a clear path of progression for drivers aiming for the top of the sport, it continues to be open to all-comers with a vast array of driver age and experience – plus machinery from the FIA Rally Cars Pyramid – all in action.

A best-ever 62 crews have entered the ninth running of Rally Liepāja with 60 eligible for ERC points. The event is a round of the revamped FIA ERC Junior Championship for Rally3 cars on Pirelli tyres, plus the new-for-2021 Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT, the arrive-and-driver series for the Renault Clio Rally5 using MICHELIN tyres. MICHELIN is also providing incentives for young talents in Rally2 cars using its products via the ERC-MICHELIN Talent Factory.

Administered by the FIA and promoted by Eurosport Events, the ERC is the established step-up series to the FIA World Rally Championship and is backed up by a global broadcast package, which includes extensive coverage on the various Eurosport platforms. Four stages on each event are shown live on Facebook and YouTube, while ERC Radio is on-air from all events.