The 9th round of Open RBR-LT WRC 2019 was held in Latvia, where ERC event Rally Liepaja was happening. 10 special stages and 69 kilometers of very fast and tricky roads has been tackled by 62 crews. And we have a 6th new winner of the rally this season.
As there is no surprise the locals was very fast here in Latvia and Raivo Dabins won the shakedown. Unfortunately Latvian Citroen C3 WRC engine broke down on the way back to Parc Ferme, so the local fans had to choose new rally favorites to cheer for. We don't know if fans supported Libor Tomecek the most, but Czech driver was the luckiest on the fleet. Of course it wasn't that easy. From the SS2 rally leader role was taken by Lithuanian Mantvydas Ralys with Hyundai i20 WRC. Mantvydas won just one special stage but he kept leading till SS8. Meanwhile Libor was in top 3 all the time from second stage and after SS4 he had a company of Mateusz Przyszlakowski who was just on his tale, both of the drivers drove insanely similar and just after SS7 Mateusz overtook Libor by 10sec and was just 11sec from Mantvydas. Unfortunately the next stage was the last one for Mateusz as the SS9 for Mantvydas. This is how the first victory for Toyota was reached this season and of course for Tomecek himself. 2nd place was taken by Jyrki Niemela who is always fast with his Ford Fiesta R5, he lost just 11.15sec to Libor. 3rd place were taken by Mancikas Meduneckis with Hyundai i20 WRC who used an advantage of almost home event, Lithuania lost 29.60sec to a rally winner. To prove that competition was a next level in this event, we can looking at stage winners. 8 different stage winners, that's probably a record from all previous events. Only Libor Tomecek and Mateusz Przyszlakowski managed to win by two special stages.
It's worth to mention that Rally Liepaja was very unforgiving for championship leaders. At first we missed Tomek Wach who decided to skip this event. Rally Argentina winner Jurek Bogdanowicz won the first stage but after it had to retire in the same way as Ravi Dabins did. In the next stage we lost our championship leader Juan Marzoa as well as very fast German Rene Ritter. We also didn't saw Anton Kochetkov who is suspended for the rest of the season and Alex Karkach who retired by his own decision.
Echedei Benitez made a car change before Rally Liepaja and jumped to Peugeot 207 S2000 Evo Plus from his Citroen C3 R5. Spaniard won SS1 and SS4 in WRC 2 category and was going really well with his new car. In fact four drivers were going really well because after 6 stages all four participants was in 10sec interval as all overs was over 1min behind. The WRC 2 was lead by Echedei at first, then Jan Gais, then Echedei again and from SS7 Jyrki Niemela took a more serious lead. Finn won SS7 and SS8 and having almost 20sec lead decided to cool down and take his car safe to finish, and he did so,- "It was difficult rally. Thanks!". 2nd left Slovakian Jan Gais with 28.62sec behind Jyrki. "Satisfaction with driving, setup but the result we will see. Hardest sadistic stages for finish. Thanks to the organizers. Interesting rally",- spoke Jan. 3rd place was taken by Echedei Benitez, who was 2nd after SS8 but he made a mistake in SS9 and lost many time so he dropped to 4th place. Before last 10th stage Spaniard had a 6sec deficit against Kirill Kolomiets in 3rd place. But Echedei set the 2nd fastest time in the last stage and overtook Kirill by 3.47sec in overall "Lost a place with careful driving to the finish. Never give up!",- added Kirill after finish..
After unlucky Rally in Chile Oscar Estévez is back on his winning road. Portuguese driver took 8th win in WRC 3 classification again by winning all the special stages and creating a 1min 51.84sec advantage against nearest opponent. 2nd place was won by Maciej Zawisza who was fighting with Remus Diaconescu all the rally. In the end Pole beat Romanian by 8.6sec and took the 2nd place. Next event will be Oscar's home event so there will be no easier for his opponents.
We are pretty surprised how the 9th event of Open RBR-LT WRC 2019 went. We didn't expected such a dramas and seconds war from this little rally. But sometimes best things comes from most unexpected ones. Next stop is Rally Portugal, the home event of Paulo Tempera and Oscar Estévez. We will see how things will go there.