MML Sports began its 2010 rally season with a win at the weekend, as Ivars Vasaraudzis and co-driver Peteris Spredzis took victory on the Sarma Rally, the second round of the Latvian Rally Championship. Team-mates Raimonds Kisiels and Gatis Lanavas had a more eventful rally but still managed to finish 12th overall despite a series of off-road excursions during the event.
The Sarma Rally is the second round of the national championship and was the first time Vasaraudzis had been in the car since the end of the 2009 season, some three months ago. Consequently, he approached the two first stages of the event, run in darkness on Friday night, with caution as he settled back into competition in the Mitsubishi Lancer World Rally Car.
He was second and third fastest on the two opening tests respectively to hold second overall at the start of the second day. He remained cautious for the day’s opening stage but then established his hold on the leaderboard by setting the fastest time on each of the day’s remaining five stages to arrive at the finish in first place overall, with a winning margin of just shy of a minute.
Things weren’t quite so easy for Kisiels however, He went off the road and got stuck in the snow on the first stage, losing two minutes to the leaders. He suffered the same fate on the fifth stage, dropping almost another two minutes but despite this, a series of top ten stage times meant that he went on to finish the event in 12th place overall, five minutes behind his team-mate.
Commenting on the weekend, MML Sports Managing Director John Easton said; “This was a very good weekend. It was nice to get the win on the first event of the season and encouraging that both cars made it to the finish with no issues.
“Ivars began the event cautiously, taking it very easy in the darkness and on the first stage of day two. But it wasn’t long before he got a push on and got up to his usual position – at the front – where he stayed for the rest of the event.
“Raimonds was pretty rusty by the time he started the event – he hadn’t been in the Lancer WRC for more than four months, so it’s no wonder. But he stayed focussed and I think without going off and getting stuck, would have finished in the top five.”
The Latvian drivers now have a break, as the next round of the championship is the Talsi Rally in May. This gives the series a chance to move out of winter and back towards its normal conditions of fast and flowing dry gravel roads, similar to those made famous by Rally Finland.