Pirelli set to claim European Rally Championship title in Latvia
|Alexey Lukyanuk returns to his Mitsubishi in Latvia|
The rapid gravel stages of Latvia host the penultimate round of the FIA European Rally Championship this weekend and only one thing is certain: the champions in every category will have used Pirelli tyres, against strong opposition. It just remains to be seen exactly who those champions will be: overall, as well as in the Junior plus the ERC2 and ERC3 support categories. Overall title: Kajetanowicz close to victory but Lukyanuk isn’t giving up. Poland’s Kajetan Kajetanowicz takes the start in his Ford Fiesta R5 with a 76-point advantage over another Pirelli driver: Alexey Lukyanuk, returning to his trusty Mitsubishi Lancer R4 on this occasion. Kajetanowicz – the reigning European champion – needs only three points to repeat his title, so just an eighth place at the rally finish or a third place at the end of the leg would be enough to make him uncatchable, whatever Lukyanuk does. Lukyanuk will also have to keep an eye on young Latvian Ralfs Sirmacis, who is chasing a third overall win this year in order to deprive the Russian of the championship runner-up spot. ERC Junior: Ingram has to drop scores, while Griebel hopes. The duel between the two Pirelli-equipped factory Opel Adam R2 drivers could well be decided by dropped scores. Both have reached their maximum number of allowed results (four) but it’s the German who has the chance to improve as for now he’s got some less impressive scores to drop. On the other hand, it’s best not to get too mathematical: in order to become Junior champion, Griebel has to win the rally and at least one leg, whereas Ingram’s mission – to seal the championship he has led from round two – is simply to stop him from doing that. A potential consolation prize for the loser in Juniors is the ERC3 title, for which all scoring opportunities count. ERC2 title: Scattolon to challenge the leader Chuchala once more. There’s still a big gap in the standings, but success last time out in the Czech Republic brought Italy’s Giacomo Scattolon and his Pirelli-equipped Mitsubishi Lancer closer to the points leader Wojciech Chuchala: the Subaru Poland driver who took five wins from as many rallies earlier in the season – also using Pirelli tyres. But in Latvia Scattolon will also have the considerable challenge of Alexey Lukyanuk to deal with in the category. The rally: Originally due to have run in February, it was postponed until September due to a lack of snow. It now takes on a completely different character on gravel in the Kludge region, marking a step into the unknown for all the competitors. The route: Fast and sandy gravel, expected to be quite similar to the stages in Rally Estonia. The weather: Good weather is expected throughout the weekend, without excessively hot temperatures The tyres and the rules: All Pirelli-equipped cars will use the Italian firm’s renowned Scorpion K tyres, in 18-inch size for the top cars and 16-inch size for the Junior runners. The medium K6 will be the main tyre with the harder K4 available as on option as well. The Scorpion K helps to provide precise steering inputs, with good control braking and traction: even on fast stages with low levels of grip. A lot of this is down to Pirelli’s unique directional tread pattern, which drives the car through the corner.
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