Sun 18 Jun 2023

Joy for Nore despair for McRae in Junior ERC

Ola Nore made it two wins out of two in the Hankook-equipped FIA Junior ERC Championship, adding victory on Tet Rally Liepāja to his triumph in Poland last month.

With former WRC2 title winner Torstein Eriksen co-driving his Renault Clio Rally4, the Norwegian overcame power and steering issues on Saturday and a stage mode setting issue on Sunday morning to triumph ahead of Victor Hansen and Norbert Maior.

Hansen and Maior were third and second in Poland respectively and their results in Latvia mean they both remain firmly in the championship hunt after two rounds.

"It is unbelievable, [it's] been hard with the surface," explained Nore following his win. "So many things need to be right, some is luck, some is skill. I am very happy now."

Although Nore was a worthy winner for the second rally running, it could have been a different story had Max McRae not been handed a one-minute penalty for an early check-in prior to Saturday’s final service halt.

The Scottish driver completed leg one with a 1.0sec advantage over Nore only for the time adjustment to drop him to seventh position.

With limited experience on high-speed gravel roads – particularly in wet conditions – McRae’s focus was on finishing in the points for the second event in succession, which the late Colin McRae’s 18-year-old nephew achieved in fifth position.

Supported by his father Alister, a former British champion, McRae came home fifth behind Estonian Mark-Egert Tiits, who was on course for a podium finish until Maior battled ahead on stage nine, the Romanian having lost more than 40sec with an electronic issue on day one.

Timo Schulz finished sixth to complete his comeback from an off on SS1 after he got the better of Roberto Daprà during a close run between the pair. The Opel Corsa Rally4 driver took was fastest on the Power Stage.

ACI Team Italia-backed Mattia Zanin got ahead of Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver Aoife Raftety on the deciding test to finish eighth with Mille Johansson completing the top 10.

Alfred Kramer and Simon Andersson were next up as René Noller completed the list of finishers despite a lengthy delay on the Power Stage as a result of a brake issue.

Miko Jalava, the Finnish Junior Championship winner from 2022, started leg two in third place in light of McRae’s penalty, but went off the road nearing the finish of stage eight and retired.

Ex-ski racer Fabian Zeiringer was a non-starter on leg two after he rolled into retirement on Saturday’s first stage.

Karl-Markus Sei dropped out of contention when he lost three minutes stuck in a ditch on SS1. He had worked his way up to eighth only to stop with a reported mechanical issue early on SS9.

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