From Talsi to Liepaja – speed festival at Rally Latvia this weekend

From Talsi to Liepaja – speed festival at Rally Latvia this weekend

The FIA European Rally Championship accelerates; just two weeks after the first event finish the participants move to high-speed gravel roads of Latvia – the Rally Liepaja 2020 will be held as the FIA ERC second round, as well as the second and third rounds of the Latvian national championship and the Baltic Rally Trophy. Top drivers of the world series and young talents will join the participants who successfully qualified on the Italian asphalt.

This competition, originally scheduled as a winter rally, was held in late spring and early autumn, and now it will take place under the bright summer sun. The rally organizers worked hard not only to ensure that the rally will be held despite the many restrictions caused by the worldwide pandemic, but also to attract strong entrants. Nevertheless, not all drivers wishing to take the start of this rally were able to come to Latvia, having issued all kinds of permits.

Nevertheless, a real battle will unfold on the fastest gravel roads! The Russians Alexey Lukyanuk and Dmitry Eremeev, driving a Citroen C3 R5 from the Saintéloc team, with the support of Citroen Racing and Total, will face three ex-winners of this rally – Craig Breen, Nikolay Gryazin and Oliver Solberg, the Polish national title owner Miko Marczyk and Romanian champion Simone Tempestini, junior champion in the ERC3 category Efrén Llarena, young “flying Finns” – Emil Lindholm and Eerik Pietarinen, There is also the name of the Norwegian WRC round winner Mads Ostberg in the entry list – it will not be boring!

Alexey Lukyanuk, driver, “The race is almost 180 competitive kilometers and it will be very difficult for us, because the very strong drivers have come to Latvia; the fight will begin from the very first special stages. And I set myself up not to waste time, but to immediately start fighting. I hope that, having begun with last year’s starting settings, we moved forward during the test day and found the most optimal ones – we were able to prepare better and will show a good pace right off the bat. Volkswagens and Skodas, of course, are hard to fight, but we will do everything we can for it!”

Dmitry Eremeev, co-driver, “I really like Rally Liepaja. The roads are fast enough and well maintained. In most places, the specificity of the surface makes it possible to attack more entering corners and it looks spectacular. Rally Latvia will be slightly different from Italy in terms of co-driver’s work. There’s not much information in the pacenotes, but the timeliness of the reading greatly affects the trajectory. I think the memory of how to drive on these roads should help me a little bit. I also hope Alexey has experience and knows these roads – he is very fast here. I am looking forward to the start of this rally with interest”.

The participants will tackle four intense days: the organizers have drawn up a tight schedule of recce and pre-start procedures. During the recce it is necessary to make notes and overcome long distances between the cities of Talsi and Liepaja, it will take the whole Thursday and will continue on Friday morning, 14 August. Free practice, qualifying stage and afternoon shakedown will follow on the same day.
The first of the ten rally special stages starts on Saturday near Talsi at 12.20 local time, and the final SS NESTE starts at 16.15 on Sunday. During the two rally days the participants will cover 175.83 km of the competitive distance and 526.5 km of liaisons between high-speed sections.

The measures introduced by the organizers to avoid mass gatherings of spectators and fans in response to the global pandemic mean that Ceremonial start and finish will not take place; fans are not allowed to visit the service park and the location of sports teams. The previously planned city super special stages in Talsi and Liepaja were canceled, and the number of free tickets for spectators to access the organized special stages is limited. All rally participants, from drivers to team administrators, technical staff, as well as media representatives, must act responsibly and comply with all the rules of the rally host country to ensure the safety at Rally Liepaja.


FIA ERC series website      Lukyanuk’s website      Rally Liepaja website

Event essentials:

There will be no ceremonial start of podium finish due to COVID-19 restrictions
Pre-event press conference: Streamed live from 20h15 on Friday 14 August via Facebook. The following drivers will take part: Nikolay Gryazin, Emil Lindholm, Alexey Lukyanuk, Mads Østberg, Mārtiņš Sesks and Oliver Solberg
Post-event press conference: Details of live streaming to be confirmed
Headquarters: Liepāja Olympic Centre, Brīvības Street 39, Liepāja
Stages: 10
Stage distance: 177.87 kilometres
Liaison distance: 528.77 kilometres
Total distance: 706.64 kilometres
Surface: Gravel
Free Practice (for priority drivers): 15h00-17h15, Friday 14 August, Grobiņa Municipality, Liepāja (4.61kms)
Qualifying Stage (for priority drivers): 17h30-19h15, Friday 14 August, Grobiņa Municipality, Liepāja (4.61kms)
Shakedown (for all drivers): 19h15-20h00, Friday 14 August, Grobiņa Municipality, Liepāja (4.61kms)

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.

Crew’s additional information:

Alexey Lukyanuk aka LUCAS, driver
DOB 1980
International Master of Motorsport of Russia
The world’s only driver – seven-time Colin McRae Flat Out Trophy winner

  • 2019 – Vice champion of the FIA European Rally Championship in overall standings
  • 2018 – European Rally Champion in overall standings
  • 2016 – Vice champion of the FIA European Rally Championship in overall standings
  • 2015 – Bronze medalist of the European Rally Championship in overall standings
  • 2014 – Estonian Rally Champion in overall standings
  • 2014 – Estonian Rally Champion in N4 category (production cars)
  • 2014 — Russian Rally Champion in overall standings
  • 2014 — Russian Rally Champion in N4 category (production cars)
  • 2011 — Rally Cup of Russia Holder in 2000Н standings

Dmitriy Eremeev, co-driver
DOB 1974
International Master of Motorsport of Russia

  • 2001 — Russian Rally Champion in overall standings

The first start in the high-ranking international series – at the WRC round Neste Rally Finland in 1999. In general, he started at 23 rounds of the WRC, took part in six rounds of the FIA ERC, as well as at individual rounds of Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Latvia and France championships.