Team MRF Tyres enjoyed a strong day on Latvian gravel, finishing the Friday running of Rally Liepaja in second place.
Craig Breen and Paul Nagle were able to utilise the grip provided by MRF Tyres to take three-second places and a fourth-place over the day’s four stages.
The European Rally Championship teams travelled 150km northeast from Liepaja to Talsi for the day’s stages.
Warm and sunny conditions greeted the field and at noon local time, the first stage of the rally commenced.
The 27.00km SC Grupa/Eurovia test would be the longest of the rally, giving the drivers no chance to ease their way into the rally.
Team MRF Tyres, though was immediately on the pace-setting a time of 14:25.6, just 4.8seconds off the lead.
Talsi Lookout followed and offered 25.94km of fast, flowing gravel. Breen and Nagle took second place and it quickly emerged that there would be a five-way battle.
Coming into the remote service, Team MRF Tyres would be involved in a battle with Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (VW), Efrén Llarena/ Sara Fernández (Skoda) and Alexey Lukyanuk/Dmitriy Eremeev (Citroën). Just 13.4 seconds would separate the four cars.
The remote service offered a chance to change tyres and minor repairs only before two more stages in the afternoon loop.
Team MRF Tyres consolidated the position inside the top fight, taking second on the 17.8km Sixt Rent a Car stage and second on the 17.36km Ramirent stage.
At the end of the day, Breen and Nagle’s Hyundai lies in second just 10.6 seconds from the lead.
Saturday makes up the final day of running at the FIA ERC Rally Liepaja and will see six stages being run.
In total there will be 90.92km of action in the stages near Liepaja.
Like today, it is expected that the action will be fast and intense. The average pace for Breen and Nagle today was 116.9km/h.
MRF Tyres customer cars Michal Pryczek/ Jacek Pryczek (Subaru Impreza N15) and Igor Widłak/Daniel Dymurski (Ford Fiesta Rally 3) ran strongly over the day.
Pryczek/Pryczek sit in fourth in the ERC2 category and Widlak/Dymurski sit in third in the RC3 category.
The first stage on Saturday, Neste 1, gets underway at 9 am local time or 11:30 in India. All stages will feature free radio available at www.fiaerc.com/live-radio.
Live streaming for stages 7 and 12 can be found at www.fiaerc.com
Craig Breen, Driver, Hyundai i20 R5
“Today was a good day for Team MRF Tyres. The car and the tyres felt good on the fast gravel, where you need to be totally committed. As you can see from the average speeds, this is a fast rally.”
“It is encouraging to see the development in the MRF Tyres product. It is a very strong field here and to be able to be battling at the front is a credit to the team and commitment over the past year.”
“There is a long way to go in this rally and it is a tough field. Tomorrow’s stages could provide a different challenge but we have to be happy with the pace we showed today.