Sesks shines on ERC prize drive
Mārtiņš Sesks made full use of the first of two prize drives in the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship as he stepped up to R5 level with a debut podium on his home event, Rally Liepāja.
Sesks was competing in a Pirelli-equipped ŠKODA Fabia R5 run by Motorsport Italia, part of his reward from championship promoter Eurosport Events for winning the ERC3 Junior title in 2018. Despite his limited experience, Sesks finished third overall and second in ERC1 Junior – the category for young stars in R5 cars – alongside co-driver Krišjānis Caune. Fellow teenager and ERC1 Junior Oliver Solberg won the high-speed gravel rally.
“I had an incredible debut in the Motorsport Italia ŠKODA Fabia R5, especially on my home rally,” said the 19-year Latvian talent. “It feels like a long time ago that I won the ERC3 Junior title but I still feel and remember that special moment because the opportunity to drive the R5 car was my prize for my achievements. I am really thankful to Eurosport Events for being so helpful with everything.
“For sure my experience was not that big before the start but I was able to build my confidence and my experience and this was my main objective. Before the rally I didn’t know how fast I would be so I didn’t have a position in mind. But I must be happy to finish in the top three. It was also nice to battle with the top guys, to be a couple of seconds from them.”
Sesks had previously excelled at R2 level, winning the ERC3, ERC3 Junior and Latvian 2WD titles in 2018. He’s contesting the Junior world championship in 2019 alongside his prize drives in the ERC. “It has been a really nice experience to drive an R5,” Sesks continued. “On slow corners and in hairpins in the R2 car you are chasing every millimetre in the corner. But with the four-wheel drive you just go into the corner, you are sliding a bit but you have the torque and everything goes fast. You need to be much faster with the steering for example, but I was able to learn and improve quite a lot.”
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, followed Sesks’s progress with interest. “We knew Mārtiņš had big potential but he really proved his talent with a great performance and a very mature drive. On stages he knows well, the temptation was there to push too hard and make a mistake, but he drove with his head, sticking to his pre-rally objective of getting to the finish and building his experience. But to finish on the podium was beyond our expectations and clearly points to an even brighter future. And with 17-year-old Oliver Solberg winning, this is a really strong endorsement of ERC1 Junior as a platform for young drivers to showcase their talent.”
Sesks will receive his second prize drive on the all-asphalt Rally di Roma Capitale in July. Before then the Latvian will be in action in the Junior world championship in a Ford Fiesta R2T on Pirelli tyres.