3 July 2022
For the first time in their careers Liepāja local Mārtiņš Sesks with co-driver Renārs Francis, who were driving with Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo car prepared by Sports Racing Technology, won the tenth Tet Rally Liepāja. Sesks / Francis took an early lead on Saturday stages around Talsi Region, and with final special stages taking place around his hometown Liepāja, Sesks / Francis did a flawless job to further increase his lead to over a minute at the finish of Tet Rally Liepāja. Second place in the fifth round of 2022 FIA European Rally Championship went to Spaniards Efren Llarena and Sara Fernandez, while Finns Mikko Heikkilä and Samu Vaaleri finished third.
The sunny conditions returned today taking over the rainy Saturday afternoon, with Mārtiņš Sesks (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) showcasing a strong performance, winning all three stages of the morning loop. Even then, with such a lead, nothing could stop the local crew from Liepāja – perfect afternoon allowed him to be victorious in his home event, winning every one of the total 12 stages of the 2020 Tet Rally Liepāja.
“Even for me, a local driver, when there are so many jumps, it wasn’t clear how to drive properly. We were just putting the pedal to the metal and that’s it. I had expected it to be more difficult, but we were able to continue in the same way. Somewhere bigger rocks forced us to change the braking points and trajectories. The surface was a bit wet, but we could live with that. The car was prepared absolutely perfectly and we could fully concentrate on driving. It was such a pleasure! Big thanks to everyone! This was definitely the best rally of my life!” says Mārtiņš Sesks, the main hero of Tet Rally Liepāja.
Mārtiņš Sesks, Tet Rally Liepāja ©RedBullContentPool
After a great performance in the Talsi region stages, the good result of Tom Kristensson (Hyundai i20 R5 Rally2) disappeared quickly, when the crew punctured tyre of their car and lost two minutes of time, leaving the fight for the second position in Tet Rally Liepāja overall results. Big fight started between season’s overall standings leader, Efren Llarena, second, (Škoda Fabia R5 Rally2 evo) and the Finnish crew of Mikko Heikkilä, third, (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo).
“Before the last stage, I thought that we should try to hold the third place. To be honest, I couldn’t maintain that speed. I’m from Southern Europe – we are not used to drive in such conditions. Of course, we tried to do the best possible job. In the end we managed to have very good stage. We are happy with the performance we showed. We knew, that rallies in Poland and Latvia will be difficult for us, so we are very happy for the chance to stand on podium,” Efren Llarena shares his excitement for the second place.
Efren Llarena, Tet Rally Liepāja ©RedBullContentPool
Heikkilä overtook Llarena two stages before the finish of Tet Rally Liepāja, moving up to the second position, with 1,9 seconds advantage over the follower. Also after SS 11, Heikkilä was continuing to pull away, increasing his advantage to 5,4 seconds. And yet, in the very last stage, SS 12 LIEPĀJA POWER STAGE, Efren Llarena had great drive, getting back to the second place, and finishing only 0,7 seconds ahead of the third place finisher Heikkilä. This was first Mikko Heikkilä’s first podium in the FIA European Rally Championship.
“In the last stages, I thought that I will fight with all my heart, but we couldn’t do it. In overall, it went well, but I was too scared in some corners, so I braked quite quickly. The grip was at a very high level, being quite similar to those in Finland. Llarena was pretty quick, which was disappointing. I fought hard in the end, but the stage was really hard,” third-placed Mikko Heikkila told.
Mikko Heikkila, Tet Rally Liepāja ©RedBullContentPool
Two Estonian crews finished just behind the podium. Ken Torn (Ford Fiesta Mk2 Rally2) won the duel over Gregor Jeets (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo). In the second day of the competition, former FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) driver, New Zealander, Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20 Rally2) was able to get up to sixth place.
Second place in Tet Rally Liepāja allowed Efren Llarena to further increase his lead in the overall standings of the FIA European Rally Championship. After five round, he has collected 116 points, creating a 46-point handicap against second placed Nil Solans, who finished in twelfth place of the rally held in Kurzeme. Six points behind Solans, Simone Tempestini holds the third position. Romanian driver Simone Tempestini ranked on ninth place in Tet Rally Liepāja. After the perfect weekend, Mārtiņš Sesks is in eight place with 42 points in his luggage.
In the ERC3 class, Kaspars Kasari (Ford Fiesta Rally3) lost more than a minute in the first stage of Sunday, but the advantage created on Saturday was enough, to hold the position and beat Igor Widlak (Ford Fiesta Rally3), who lost 1 minute and 55,6 seconds to the Estonian at the finish.
Toni Herranen (Ford Fiesta Rally4) continued mission started on Saturday’s afternoon. Only 11,3 seconds separated him and Oscar Palomo (Peugeot 208 Rally4) before the last stage in ERC4 and ERC Junior categories, but the Spaniard was 3,3 seconds faster in last stage, securing the class win.
Argentinian Paulo Soria (Renault Clio Rally5) continued to demonstrate great results in Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT. In finish, he had increased his lead to 3 minutes and 46 seconds, while the next four followers fit in 1 minute and 7,9 seconds. Emre Hasbay (Renault Clio Rally5) from Turkey retired from second position in the very last stage of the competition.
Dominant performance by crew of Mārtiņš Sesks and Renārs Francis allowed them to win multiple special awards. Already in the first day, Sesks secured the Talsi special award for the best crew of six stages held in Talsi region, also the SC Grupa / Eurovia special award for the fastest time in SS 2 Mundigciems, whose route went along the spectators area “SC Grupa / Eurovia”. In the second day of the competition, Sesks added the Ramirent special award for best time in SS 8 Dinsdurbe, whose route went along the spectators area “Ramirent”.
The SIXT special award for the longest jump in SS 1 Strazde spectators area “SIXT” went to the Italian Alberto Battistolli, whose Škoda Fabia Rally2 car spent 31 meters in the air. The Liepāja Special Economic Zone award for the fastest results in SS 7/9 Vecpils, whose route went along the spectators area “Invest in Liepāja”, was won by Mārtiņš Sesks and Mikko Heikkilä. Two special awards were also presented by Fristads. One for the fastest time in SS 3 Kāķīši, whose route went along the spectators area “Fristads”, was one by Sesks, while the other one went to best driver from Latvian Championship crews only Elviss Hermanis (Škoda Fabia Proto).
The great success in both European and Latvian Championship enabled Sesks to get Flora special award, which was awarded to best driver with Latvian Automobile federation issued licence. In the end, Mārtiņš Sesks took the last special award – presented by his hometown Liepāja for the win in SS 12 Liepāja Power Stage.
FIA European Rally Championship round five Tet Rally Liepāja results available here:
Round of the 2022 FIA European Rally Championship event Tet Rally Liepāja is possible thanks to the support provided by the Ministry of Education and Science, rally city Liepāja, as well as our partner Talsi region. The event is run thanks to general sponsor Tet, sponsors Ramirent and SC Grupa/Eurovia and in collaboration with Magnetic Latvia. Thanks to our official car rental Sixt and our supporters Canon Biznesa Centrs Liepāja, Fristads, Liepājas Olimpiskais Centrs, and Liepājas Speciālā Ekonomiskā Zona. Informative support is provided by news media DELFI and media partners Kurzemes Radio, MVP, Sporta Avīze, and Talsu Vēstis. We also express our gratitude to our Tet Rally Liepāja friends Baltic Taxi, EL Networks, Flora, FN Serviss, Jānis Pūce, Löfbergs, MB Grupa, Red Bull, SignTech, Sportland, and Törley. Tet Rally Liepāja is organised in association with Dienvidkurzeme region and Latvian Automobile Federation.
Hayden Paddon, Tet Rally Liepāja ©RedBullContentPool
Kaspar Kasari, Tet Rally Liepāja ©RedBullContentPool
Ken Torn, Tet Rally Liepāja ©RedBullContentPool
Tom Kristensson, Tet Rally Liepāja ©RedBullContentPool