Lithuanians Samsonas / Varža come through to an unbelieveable Rally Talsi victory
Sunday was the second and final day of the fiftieth anniversary running of Rally Talsi, a Latvian and Lithuanian Rally Championship round, consisting of the last five special stages and the awards ceremony. On this day, the rally route went through Lībagi, Laidze, Ģibuļi and Lauciene regions before returning to Talsi to honour the fastest crews of this fiftieth anniversary event – Lithuanians Martynas Samsonas / Mindaugas Varža, Finns Kalle Rovanpera / Risto Pietilainen and another Lithuanian crew, Vytautas Švedas / Žilvinas Sakalauskas, who were not only third in the overall classification, but also had the honour to raise the travelling Champions Cup. This is the third time Švedas wins the trophy, meaning he will now keep it permanently.
Morning of day two was cloudy, but the weather cleared soon, letting spectators enjoy a fantastic rally Sunday and witness an incredible battle for the overall victory at the end of the event. Sunday’s stages covered a total of 64.07 km, including a 28.94 km long final special stage, SS11 Nissan Norde, which, as has been a custom for the last few years, played an integral role in determining the winner.
Young Finn Kalle Rovanpera began the day as the leader, followed by two Lithuanian crews – Švedas (who was also battling for the Champions Cup) and Giedrius Notkus / Dalius Strižanas. After Švedas took the overall lead after the first stage of the day, Rovanpera instantly fired back and beat the Lithuanian by seven seconds in the very next stage to reclaim the lead. Even though the following stage did not bring any changes to the leading duo, Martynas Samsonas / Mindaugas Varža were getting ever closer, after receiving a one minute penalty on leg one which had demoted them from first to fifth place.
The second to last stage of Rally Talsi took place in the parallel CVS track, and was also broadcast live on Talsu TV and Re:TV. After this stage, Rovanpera was still the overall leader, but Samsonas had moved up to second place, just 6.8 seconds behind the Finnish driver.
There was a lot on the line for the final stage, and it lived up to all expectations – Samsonas managed to keep the amazing pace he had demonstrated since Friday’s qualification stage to finish his comeback and win the event by 9.23 seconds over Rovanpera. Švedas finished third overall, 30.28 seconds from the top spot.
“The event was fantastic! It has been quite a while since we have competed in such a difficult and interesting rally! After setting the fastest time on the qualification stage, we spent a lot of time thinking about which start position to choose. We were leading after day one, but then received a penalty, which moved us down to fifth place. Not knowing how to gain back the lost time, we did not lose our hope, as we figured that we would not have to be first on the road, which is good. On Sunday morning, however, it turned out that the Lithuanian and Latvian rules are a bit different and that we would indeed have to start first and clean the road for the following crews. Still, we kept at it and, fantastically, managed to get back in the lead on the very last stage – is it possible to have a better ending to a Sunday?” Samsonas / Varža were extremely happy after the finish, having posted the fastest time on all eleven special stages of Rally Talsi.
“This was a great day of rallying! The roads here are a bit different to what I am used to, so it was a very valuable experience! I might have missed out on the overall victory here, but our goal for this event was to keep learning and get maximum points in the Latvian Rally Championship, which we managed to do. I would like to congratulate the winning crew with the BMW – they were very fast and skilful in this event!” Kalle Rovanpera is satisfied with his result and victory in the Latvian Rally Championship event.
“We had a great event! There were so many fast drivers that I had trouble sleeping on both Friday and Saturday night. I would like to commend the organizing team led by Raimonds Strokšs for coming up with new ways to make the event memorable year after year! It is also great that special effort is put into making the competitors feel like honorary guests of Talsi – I always enjoy coming here! Even though our goal was to win the rally, we came away with something even more important – winning the Champions Cup for the third time means that the trophy will now stay with us permanently!” Švedas is thrilled after winning the Champions Cup.
Rally Talsi was the third round of the Latvian Rally Championship, with victories going to Rovanpera / Pietilainen (LRČ1), Aivis Egle / Andis Dauga (LRČ2), Denis Rostilov / Aleksei Ignatov (LRČ3), Arvis Vecvagars / Gints Gaiķis (RK1) and Vasily Gryazin / Dmitry Lebedik (RK2). Vorobjovs / Samsonas Racing were awarded as the best team.
This rally was also the third round of the Lithuanian Rally Championship, which adds to the intrigue of the event for the third straight year. Victories in this championship were earned by Martynas Samsonas / Mindaugas Varža (LRČ1), Gintautas Šlepikas / Audrius Pivoras (LRČ2), Jonas Pipiras / Ričardas Baubinas (LRČ3), Saulius Trepuila / Mindaugas Meilūnas (LRČ4) and Tomas Mickus / Vytis Paliukonis (LRČ5). Juta-Bauer Rally Team were the best among the teams, with Champions Cup winners Švedas / Sakalauskas being among its entries.
The FIA Northern European Zone (NEZ) Junior Championship event was won by a Latvian crew – Mārtiņš Sesks / Reinis Vilsons.
Rally Talsi would not be possible without our supporters, so we would like to thank the rally city of nine hillocks – Talsi, sponsors Neste and Talce / SC Grupa, as well as Nissan Norde, who provide the official car of Rally Talsi. We would also like to thank our supporters – Canon IB Serviss, Krauzers, Lakalme, Ramirent and Swecon. Thanks to our media partners Delfi, Kurzemes Radio, Go4Speed, Talsu Vēstis, FHM, Zebra, Talsu Televīzija and What Car?, for informative support. The event would also not be possible without our rally friends – Alfa SLS, Castrol, Dardedze Hologrāfija, easyshop.lv, ecoRent, FN Serviss, Ingrid D., Niedrāji MR, Red Bull, RMS Group, Skrīveru Saldumi, Torley, Venden and the Latvian Automobile Federation.
This year’s Rally Talsi sponsor and supporter special prizes were won by crews from abroad. The Neste prize for the longest jump on SS3/4 Neste were won by Finns Pyry Ovaska / Janne Siirila, who jumped much further than the 50 meter marking, which was the furthest one put there by organizers. Rally city Talsi special prize for the fastest time on SS5/6 Talsi City Special was won by Lithuanians Martynas Samsonas / Mindaugas Varža, who were 3.25 seconds quicker than the competition.
“Eight long years had to pass before I could return to race in my home event in Talsi! I would like to thank my RA EVENTS team for this opportunity, as they did a perfect job over the weekend and I did not have to think about organizational things at any point during the event!” says RA EVENTS director Raimonds Strokšs. “It is a great coincidence and an honour that I happened to be here competing on the fiftieth anniversary of the event, when we could look back in the long history of the event – thanks to the city and region of Talsi, who have been very welcoming over these years and embraced the closing of some roads for the needs of the rally! It would also not be possible to have this event without all of our rally supporters. Thank you to the fans at the stages for coming out to the event and I hope that all of you will return to Talsi next year! Thank you all and see you in 2017! If thinking about rallying, remember about TALSI!”
Event results are available on the official website of the Latvian Rally Championship – www.autorally.lv.
Additionally, Latvian Rally Championship video reviews can be viewed on YouTube HERE>
More information about Rally Talsi: www.rallytalsi.lv and http://autorally.lv. In addition to that, news and other information about Rally Talsi is available on social media Twitter @RallyTalsi, Facebook /RallyTalsi, Draugiem.lv /RallyTalsi and YouTube /RallyTalsi.
Jānis Unbedahts, Media officer, RA EVENTS. Photo: GO4SPEED.LV