Breen scores ERC podium for Team MRF in Rally Liepaja; success in ERC2, RC3 too
The Indian tyre manufacturer-led team ended up on ERC podium.
Team MRF Tyres enjoyed a strong day on Latvian gravel, finishing the Friday running of Rally Liepaja in second place. Craig Breen and Paul Nagle were able to utilise the grip provided by MRF Tyres to take three-second places and a fourth-place over the day’s four stages.
The European Rally Championship teams travelled 150km northeast from Liepaja to Talsi for the day’s stages. Warm and sunny conditions greeted the field and at noon local time, the first stage of the rally commenced.
The 27.00km SC Grupa/Eurovia test would be the longest of the rally, giving the drivers no chance to ease their way into the rally. Team MRF Tyres, though was immediately on the pace-setting a time of 14:25.6, just 4.8seconds off the lead.
Talsi Lookout followed and offered 25.94km of fast, flowing gravel. Breen and Nagle took second place and it quickly emerged that there would be a five-way battle. Coming into the remote service, Team MRF Tyres would be involved in a battle with Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (VW), Efrén Llarena/ Sara Fernández (Skoda) and Alexey Lukyanuk/Dmitriy Eremeev (Citroën). Just 13.4 seconds would separate the four cars.
The remote service offered a chance to change tyres and minor repairs only before two more stages in the afternoon loop. Team MRF Tyres consolidated the position inside the top fight, taking second on the 17.8km Sixt Rent a Car stage and second on the 17.36km Ramirent stage.
At the end of the day, Breen and Nagle’s Hyundai lies in second just 10.6 seconds from the lead. Saturday makes up the final day of running at the FIA ERC Rally Liepaja and will see six stages being run. In total there will be 90.92km of action in the stages near Liepaja.
Like today, it is expected that the action will be fast and intense. The average pace for Breen and Nagle today was 116.9km/h. MRF Tyres customer cars Michal Pryczek/ Jacek Pryczek (Subaru Impreza N15) and Igor Widłak/Daniel Dymurski (Ford Fiesta Rally 3) ran strongly over the day. Pryczek/Pryczek sit in fourth in the ERC2 category and Widlak/Dymurski sit in third in the RC3 category.
Craig Breen, Driver, Hyundai i20 R5 , said: "Today was a good day for Team MRF Tyres. The car and the tyres felt good on the fast gravel, where you need to be totally committed. As you can see from the average speeds, this is a fast rally. It is encouraging to see the development in the MRF Tyres product.
"It is a very strong field here and to be able to be battling at the front is a credit to the team and commitment over the past year. There is a long way to go in this rally and it is a tough field. Tomorrow’s stages could provide a different challenge but we have to be happy with the pace we showed today.”
Team MRF Tyres hard work has been rewarded with second place and a podium in Rally Liepaja, the first for the team since entering the European Rally Championship in 2020. It was a hard fought podium with Craig Breen and Paul Nagle battling against Europe’s best throughout the day.
The day’s action saw six stages and 90.92km of action in warm and sunny conditions on roads around the Latvian coastal town of Liepaja. The Team MRF Tyres Hyundai i20 R5 started the day in second place, involved in a great fight with Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (VW), Efrén Llarena/ Sara Fernández (Skoda) and Alexey Lukyanuk/Dmitriy Eremeev (Citroën). Just 13.4 seconds separated the four cars.
The day started with the 18.42km Neste stage. The roads on Saturday differed from the previous day with a harder surface being presented to the drivers. Breen and Nagle came in third in the stage with a time of 9:18.2, just 3.4 seconds off the lead.
The pace was repeated on the second stage of the day, with Breen/Nagle taking second just 3.1 seconds off the stage win on the Invest in Liepaja! stage. Third on stage nine, solidified Team MRF Tyres second place going into the final service. With just three stages remaining, Breen and Nagle sat in second 15.2 seconds off Gryzain/Konstantin in the lead and 16.0 seconds ahead of Lukanuk/Eremeev in third.
After final service, the need to push still existed. All of the drivers were at 100 percent, and there would be no room for mistakes. SS10 saw a repeat of the Neste stage with Breen/Nagle coming home in fifth, 3.9 seconds off the stage win.
The eleventh stage would be a new one for the rally with the 9.93km blast setting up a setting up a grandstand finish. Breen and Nagle were able to bring the car home third on the final stage to finish second in the overall standings as they stood at the final stopline.
The result demonstrates the advancements that Team MRF Tyres have made in the development of their tyres. In Rally Poland, just the second gravel rally for Team MRF Tyres, Breen and Nagle took the first stage wins on gravel for MRF Tyres.
In Latvia, the first repeat rally for MRF Tyres, the team takes the first podium. MRF Tyres customer cars Michal Pryczek/ Jacek Pryczek (Subaru Impreza N15) and Igor Widłak/Daniel Dymurski (Ford Fiesta Rally 3) ran strongly over the day.
Pryczek/Pryczek finished third in the ERC2 category and Widlak/Dymurski also finished third in the RC3 category. Team MRF Tyres will be out in the next round of the European Rally Championship with the Rally di Roma Capitale on 23-26 July.
Craig Breen, Driver, Hyundai i20 R5 , said: "We had to push all rally long. There was no room to relax this weekend. This series is so strong and you have to fight for the podium.” Team MRF Tyres has achieved so much in this campaign and a podium was a big part that was missing. To achieve a podium for Team MRF Tyres is very satisfying.”
The Hyundai i20 R5 felt so good through the rally but we had to push the entire way. The entire team at MRF Tyres should be proud of what we have achieved in a short amount of time. We entered the European Rally Championship a year ago and Rally Liepaja is only our third gravel rally. It is a great result.”
Team MRF were in action last weekend in two championships.
[Image courtesy: MRF Racing] [Note: The above is as per press release with no changes made]