Latvian Rally Championship leader Ivars Vasaraudzis will compete on next month's Mad Croc Rally Estonia at the wheel of his regular MML Sports-run Mitsubishi Lancer WRCar. He and team-mate Raimonds Kisiels will face stiff competition though, as former FIA World Rally Championship drivers Toni Gardemeister and Markko Martin are also expected to take part.
The event is one of the country's premiere rallies and always draws a crowd of world-class drivers. This year, it will include ex-Ford factory driver and now team owner Markko Martin, as well as former works driver, Toni Gardemeister.
Commenting after his win on the recent Madona Rally which consolidated top spot in the championship standings, Vasaraudzis said; "I'm very much looking forward to the Mad Croc Rally Estonia. I have competed in Estonia twice before and although I didn't finish either rally, I really enjoyed the experience and am looking forward to returning in a World Rally Car.
"I know the event is very well organised and its standing means that it always attracts some of the best drivers in the world. And although it will be a big challenge, I am very excited about competing against Markko Martin and Toni Gardemeister, to see how my pace compares with them."
Team-mate Kisiels is also looking forward to the event, though from a slightly different perspective; "Rallying in Estonia will be a new experience for me and one I am looking forward to. I have no experience of such long stages - there are no rallies like this in the Baltics. Also, as Vice President of the Latvian Automobile Federation, I am very interested to see how rallies in Estonia compare with those we organise at home."
Commenting, Managing Director of MML Sports, John Easton, said; "I think it will be excellent for both Ivars and Raimonds to contest this rally. It will benefit them both to compete outside Latvia and out of their comfort zones, even though the country has one of the most competitive national rally series, as we have seen in the past. I am sure that it will help them both to develop their skills and experience further as a result."
The event begins with a superspecial stage at the Otepaa Tehvandi ski stadium on the evening of Friday 16 July, before a full day of action on the forest gravel roads on Saturday 17 July. There are three more stages to run on the morning of Sunday 18 July, before the first cars are expected back at the stadium for the finish ceremony at 12.30.