Sun 18 Jun 2023

Armstrong seals the Liepaja ERC3 deal as Nore wins ERC4

Jon Armstrong is now a quadruple winner in the FIA ERC3 Championship after he sealed the deal on the high-speed stages of Tet Rally Liepāja.

With Scottish champion co-driver Cameron Fair providing the supporting role, Armstrong climbed to the top of the podium with a winning margin of 2min 03.2sec to continue his unbeaten run in 2023.

It was the third consecutive victory for M-Sport Poland’s Ford Fiesta Rally3 Evo model, which the company unleashed to great acclaim on Rally Islas Canarias last month.

And while Armstrong was once again a level above in Latvia, a moment on stage eight meant he missed out on a clean sweep of gravel stage wins after Piotr Parys bettered his time.

“Towards the end of the stage there’s a corner that opens and tightens again,” the Northern Irishman explained. “Basically, I went too early with my line, but I just had to go with it when it tightened again, so we were slightly cutting the inside of the corner and there was a bit of a grass verge. When the front left wheel hit that, it pulled the car round, then it spun.”

Of his fourth win and his third with Fair co-driving, Armstrong said: “Overall it’s been a good weekend, the pace against the Rally2 cars has been quite good, but the other Rally3 cars have been faster on this event, which is good and good to have more competition. We have to be happy.”

Jakub Matulka got the better of his fellow young Pole Piotr Parys in the battle for the runner-up spot, his second top-two placing in as many events.

After setting the pace through the rain-hit Liepāja City Stage on Saturday evening, Parys was quickest on SS8 following Armstrong’s spin. But “a few mistakes on the last two stages”, as Parys put it, allowed Matulka to get in front.

After finding some “magic” with the set-up of his Renault Clio Rally3, Paulo Soria was able to up his pace considerably on the final day to finish fourth in his Motorsport Italia-run car.

Ola Nore made it a victory double by adding the FIA ERC4 success to his FIA Junior ERC triumph after long-term leader Yuki Yamamoto retired his Toyota Gazoo Racing entry on the penultimate stage with radiator damage. His team-mate Nao Otake suffered the same issue on the same stage and also stopped.

Victor Hansen finished second ahead of Norbert Maior as Norman Kreuter maintained his 100 per cent scoring record in 12th position.

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