Osian Pryce was just 16-year’s old when he began what has become a long and successful rallying career in Latvia – and now, 14 years later, he will return to the Baltic country to tackle the Tet Rally Liepāja (17-18 June) as part of his 2023 FIA European Rally Championship campaign.
Osian Pryce ©Osian Pryce
The reigning British rally champion made his rallying debut on the 2009 Rally Kalnamuiza in a Renault Clio, taking advantage of the opportunity to drive in a stage rally in Latvia a year younger than he could do at the time in the UK.
It wasn’t long before his natural talent began to shine through as Pryce scored his first podium result when he finished second in class on Rally Gulbis.
Having passed his driving test, Pryce contested the Rallijs Sarma in a Ford Fiesta ST in early 2010, and this weekend’s Rally Liepāja will be his first event in Latvia since then.
Now 30, the Machynlleth-born driver can’t remember too much about the events he did in Latvia almost half his lifetime ago – and it wouldn’t be of much help this time anyway, as the forthcoming Rally Liepāja takes place in a different region and Pryce returns in a much more powerful car.
Osian Pryce ©Osian Pryce
Having used the recent Rally Poland to get acquainted to both his new MAPO Motorsport-prepared Škoda Fabia Rally2 and Belgian co-driver Stéphane Prévot, the Michelin Talent Factory driver is looking forward to starting his second gravel rally in three weeks – having previously not rallied for seven months.
“I’ve had time to step back after Rally Poland and assess what worked and what didn’t and reset ready to start afresh in Rally Liepāja,” says Pryce.
“The car, the road and I just didn’t click in Poland – and having not driven a rally car for seven months was certainly a big factor in that. You can get away with that in British national rallying, but not in the ERC where the level of pre-event preparation is so much higher and you’re basically up against professional rally drivers who compete or test every week. But I’m not going to make excuses. It is what it is, and above all else I’m grateful to have the opportunity to compete in the ERC.
“Latvia will be different. I was a lot happier with the Fabia at the end of Rally Poland than I was at the start – it really is a lot different to drive than the Volkswagen Polo that I won the British Championship in – and with a rally under my belt I’m a lot more comfortable driving the Škoda. Hopefully I won’t start in Latvia running first on the road, because getting to know a new car on a loose road really didn’t help in Poland either.
“The level in the ERC is high, but it’s not unachievable. It will come, I’m sure of that.
“I’m also excited to be going back to Latvia. I was a teenager when I was there last, so I can’t remember too much about it. Pretty much all the rallies I did back then were located east of Riga and Rally Liepāja is to the west, so the region will be new to me.
“What I do remember is that the Latvian people were extremely friendly and love rallying.
“When you start rallying, you never know how long it’s going to last because it’s a big commitment, you don’t know how good you really are and there is a big cost factor. I remember thinking as a sixteen-year-old to just enjoy it, because this could be my first and last year in the sport – so I’m very proud to be returning to Latvia all these years later as British rally champion.”
Osian Pryce ©Osian Pryce
The former winter snow rally takes place over very fast and flowing gravel stages in the historic region of Kurzeme, with 10 stages totalling over 120 miles (180kms). There is a shakedown stage and ceremonial start in Liepāja on Friday 16 June, with action taking place over Saturday and Sunday (17-18 June).
For his first ERC campaign, Pryce is supported by Michelin Motorsport, as a part of the Talent Factory programme, Demon Tweeks, Bell Racing helmets, OMP race suits, DL Jones Pontrobert Ltd (coach and taxi hire), Hills Campervans (campervan sales and hire), MotoFit (performance training) and his own family-run specialist building firm G+M Pryce.
Tickets to Tet Rally Liepāja, Latvian round of the FIA European Rally Championship, available on Biļešu Paradīze online store www.bilesuparadize.lv.
Round of the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship Tet Rally Liepāja is possible thanks to support provided by Ministry of Education and Science and rally city Liepāja. Special thanks to our general sponsor Tet, sponsors Betsafe, Ramirent, and Sportland, car rental partner Sixt, official insurance partner BTA. Tet Rally Liepāja is organised in association with Talsi region, Tukums region, Kuldīga region, Latvian Automobile Federation, and Latvia travel. Thanks to infrastructure partner Latvia’s State Forests, logistics partner DHL, as well as supporters Canon Biznesa Centrs Liepāja, Fristads, Liepaja Special Economic Zone, and Liepājas Olimpiskais Centrs. Informative support provided by news portal DELFI, and media partners Sporta Avīze and Talsu Vēstis. Thanks to Tet Rally Liepāja friends AKROPOLE, Dienvidkurzeme region, Elnetworks, Flora, FN Serviss, Jānis Pūce, Löfbergs, MB Grupa, OCT Composites, Red Bull, SignTech, Törley, as well as our technical partner Sports Racing Technologies.