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Thu 08 Jun 2023

Strong entry for Liepāja’s fast-paced ERC contest

Tet Rally Liepāja organisers have revealed an entry list full of quality and quantity for round four of the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship.

Latvia’s high-speed gravel event from 16 - 18 June is set to be contested by 58 crews with 46 eligible for ERC points and 17 lining up for action in the Hankook-equipped FIA Junior ERC Championship, of which Tet Rally Liepāja is the second round.

Twenty drivers are entered in headlining Rally2 cars, including Pirelli-equipped championship leader Hayden Paddon from the Hyundai-equipped BRC Racing Team, Team MRF Tyres’ defending ERC champion Efrén Llarena, plus his team-mate, Liepāja-born Latvian hero Mārtiṇš Sesks, the winner of the last round in Poland at the wheel of a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2.

Mathieu Franceschi, the French gravel champion, is the highest-seeded driver using Michelin tyres, while Citroën C3 Rally2-driving Mads Østberg joins Paddon as one of two WRC event winners in the field. Meanwhile, FIA Junior WRC champion Robert Virves is entered in a Ford Fiesta Rally2.

Examples of both M-Sport Poland’s Ford Fiesta Rally3 and Renault’s Clio Rally3 are registered for the ERC3 category, while 22 drivers will bid for glory in the ERC4 category for Rally4 and Rally5 cars. They include Junior ERC leader Ola Nore (Renault Clio Rally4) and Roberto Daprà, whose Peugeot 208 Rally4 is entered under the ACI Team Italia banner.

Event organiser RA Events has not allocated numbers 42 and 43 in tribute to Craig Breen and Ken Block, who passed away earlier this year. Breen won Rally Liepāja in 2015 while Block twice competed in the FIA World RX event in Riga.

Tet Rally Liepāja director Raimonds Strokšs said: “Paddon, Østberg, Llarena. Alongside our national event, there are 27 countries represented – the FIA European Rally Championship once again is going from strength-to-strength with an extremely strong entry list, bringing maximum spectacle to our fast, flowing, but challenging gravel roads. And in that mix of 58 crews, we have 17 Junior ERC drivers crafting their skills and giving true indication that the future of the sport we love so much is in good hands. And as much as I root for each and every crew of Tet Rally Liepāja, there is only one local hero, Mārtiņš Sesks. He made history last year and why not make it again?”

This year’s Tet Rally Liepāja is the 11th running of the gravel event, which is set to be elevated to the FIA World Rally Championship in 2024 as Tet Rally Latvia.