Ivars Vasaraudzis wins Rally Latvia and becomes national champion
Raimonds Kisiels solid second overall before losing time
Tom Cave on course for second in Group N before puncture
Drivers of MML Sports-prepared Mitsubishi rally cars enjoyed an excellent performance this weekend, on the finale of the Baltic State's national rally series, Rally Latvia.
Ivars Vasaraudzis was, despite earlier reports to the contrary, still in the fight for the national championship honours and only an outright win would secure the title. Ivars and co-driver Peteris Spredzis adopted their usual strategy, maximum attacked from the first stage; it worked and they took the win on each and every one of the event's nine stages, to claim an emphatic victory, with a winning margin of more than two minutes.
The result means that Vasaraudzis is now the 2010 Latvia Rally Champion, the first time he has laid claim to the title, since drivers of World Rally Cars were only eligible for the National Cup in previous years whereas this year, they were also able to challenge for the national championship honours.
Team-mate Raimonds Kisiels was enjoying his second exceptional rally in a row, following last month's second place on the Kurzeme Rally. He took the second fastest stage time on four of the first six stages of the event, to hold a solid second place as the crews approached the final loop of three stages.
However, there was a sting in the tail for Kisiels, as a sensor in the transmission on his Mitsubishi Lancer WRCar failed and the car's electronics kept it in 'road' mode while on the stages, drastically reducing its power and traction. However, he remained focussed and managed to get to the end of the event in sixth place, having dropped some three minutes in the process.
Another driver of an MML Sports car, Tom Cave, was also going well. This was the first time the 18 year-old had driven the Group N Lancer EvoX and following a pre-event test, was clearly settling in well to the car. He set a series of top seven stage times, acquitting himself well against the local drivers.
However, he would also fall foul of a tail-end problem, as he suffered a puncture on the first of the final three stages and was forced to stop and change the flat tyre, before continuing. He eventually finished the event 18th overall and seventh in Group N but this does not belie the achievement, as the MML Sports team feels that without the lost time, he would have finished sixth overall and second in Group N.
The three Russian drivers, Alexander Novoselov, Mikhail Orkin and Vladimir Sokolov enjoyed their weekend of rallying, finishing in 34th, 37th and 41st overall respectively.
Commenting on the weekend, MML Sports Managing Director John Easton said; "I'm delighted that Ivars was able to enjoy a trouble-free run and put in his usual performance - complete dominance. He was fastest on every stage to take another win, by a large margin and with it, the overall title for the year. I and the rest of the team couldn't be happier for him.
"Raimonds put in another excellent performance, running a strong second completely on his own merits - he was easily quicker than anyone except Ivars and was looking good for his second podium finish in as many rallies. It's incredibly unfortunate that he suffered the problem he did, stuck in road mode for the last three stages. This is the first mechanical problem he has had and it's such a shame it was this weekend.
"Tom Cave was very impressive on the Group N Lancer EvoX, particularly against the locals, who we know are very quick. He was matching their times on the long stages, which is no mean feat. He was very calm and professional all weekend and settled into the car very quickly. He was looking on course for second in Group N before the puncture but I must say, I'm impressed with him, all round.
"I'm also glad that Alex, Mikhail and Vladimir got to the finish, as it was only the second rally for Alex and the first for Mikhail and Vlad. I know they all enjoyed the experience and I'm also glad that they ran all weekend with no problems at all."