Skoda win Rally Liepaja

Skoda win Rally LiepajaFrom Skoda Press [ 02/02/2014 ].
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ŠKODA have won their season debut in the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC). Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN) were triumphant in the ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 at the second ERC event of the year in Latvia with a 34.7 seconds advantage over local hero Vasily Gryazin (LV). Their ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland team-mates, Sepp Wiegand/Frank Christian (D/D), took fifth place after completing the 240.56 stage kilometres (+3:16.1 min.).

“Janne and me are so happy,” said Lappi, who took seven of the twelve special stages in Latvia. After the 23-year-old Finn had taken the lead in the rally on Saturday evening, he was initially forced to surrender it back to Gryazin again. However, Lappi then drove clear of the competition and in the end he celebrated the third ERC victory of his yet nascent career.

“It was a new and very, very tough rally for us, even though we Finns love the snowy conditions,” Lappi continued. “Our competitors didn’t give us anything. He really had to fight to maintain a clean line. The Fabia Super 2000 is a fantastic car and performed flawlessly from the very first to the very last metre. The whole team deserve our thanks. It’s been very strenuous for everyone here amid these icy-cold conditions. We’re already looking forward to the next rally.”

Wiegand, who clinched the qualifying session for the snow rally around the Baltic Sea port of Liepāja on Friday, was able to defend his fifth spot on the final day. “This was a rally with highs and lows,” Wiegand commented. “We made a mistake with the start position, because we hadn’t counted on so much snowfall on Saturday. But in the later stages of the rally we made progress and demonstrated that we are able to hold our own among the best drivers.” The 23-year-old German emphasized this point by winning the penultimate special stage on Sunday.

ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek added: “I congratulate Esapekka on his third ERC career victory. Once again he confirmed his unquestionable talent in Latvia. Sepp also deserves recognition for a good performance under really very tough conditions – especially on the first day. We can be satisfied with the start we’ve made to the rally season. However, priority for the whole of 2014 will go to the development of the new Fabia R5.”

Rally Latvia was the second event in this season’s ERC. Because of the cancellation of Rally Romania, which was planned for the end of February, due the weather conditions, the legendary ‘Acropolis’ rally in Greece is next on the ERC programme from 28–30 March