Wed 14 Jun 2023

Sesks chooses radio silence for home ERC victory bid

Mārtiṇš Sesks will bid for a repeat victory on his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship this week – after going into hiding.

The Latvian’s unusual preparation for Tet Rally Liepāja, which takes place from 16 - 18 June, was an effort to keep focused amid of wave of media and fan interest following his victory on the previous ERC event in Poland.

Having taken first place on Tet Rally Liepāja for the first time in 2022 by winning all 12 stages, the 23-year-old is being billed as a firm favourite to win again this week.

But Sesks, who was born in Liepāja and drives a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 for Team MRF Tyres, is keeping those expectations in check.

“I was in radio silence for the last weeks, living quietly with an easy preparation, trying to hide a little bit because everyone is talking and I want to talk with the results after the rally,” he said.

“There is just one question from the media and one topic and it’s about [winning]. I’m staying low on this point with no big expectations. For sure we will do our best and prepare as we are doing for every rally. But I am a driver for the full ERC season and this is one of eight rallies. We have to look for the big picture.”

Strong entry for Liepāja’s fast-paced ERC contest
Tet Rally Liepāja organisers have attracted an entry of 58 crews with 46 eligible for ERC points and 17 lining up for action in the Hankook-equipped FIA Junior ERC Championship, of which the Latvian event is the second round of the season, having hosted the very first Junior ERC event back in 2014.

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 and Mathieu Franceschi, the French gravel title winner from 2022, who is the highest-seeded driver using Michelin tyres.

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 (pictured above) 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, pictured below) and Roberto Daprà, whose Peugeot 208 Rally4 is entered under the ACI Team Italia banner. Max McRae, the 18-year-old nephew of the late Colin McRae, is all set for his second Junior ERC appearance following his points-scoring debut in Poland.

Tet Rally Liepāja route in short
The ERC stars and their cars will be put through their paces on 10 stages measuring 183.89 kilometres. Saturday’s route begins with back-to-back passes of the largely untried 27.56-kilometre Tukums test from 11:00 and 13:05 local time. The Talsi stage follows from 14:40 and measures 8.50 kilometres with a section through Talsi’s city streets before it switches to gravel. Up next is the 26.02km Īvande test from 16:50, followed by the mainly all-new 14.63 kilometres of Snēpele (17:40) and the day-closing Liepāja super special stage.

Sunday’s four-stage route is centred on the Dienvidkurzeme region with the new 19.59km Liepieni test up first from 08:55 followed by the Krogzemji stage from 10:05. Both are repeated after a service halt in Liepāja with the rerun of Liepieni due to begin at 13:00 ahead of the return to the 18.95km Krogzemji test, which will form the rally-deciding Power Stage when it’s run for a second time from 15:05 and features a section through a quarry.

Dedicated spectator zones are being prepared at all stages and more information is available here: https://2023.lvrally.com/eng/spectators/spectators-guide

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM