ERC: Breen and Lindholm secure Top 6 result in Rally Liepaja for Team MRF
The two drivers did well to not only score points but collect valuable data.
It was a successful day of action for Team MRF Tyres on Rally Liepaja, the second round of the European Rally Championship with Craig Breen and Paul Nagle just ahead of their stablemates Emil Lindholm and Mikael Korhonen sitting in fifth and sixth.
The day saw four stages and over 88 km of competitive action near the town of Talsi in the north west of Latvia. Adding to the challenge was the fact at the crews did not return to service throughout the day, rather having a flexi-service in Talsi.
Crews faced warm conditions on faster roads. A crucial factor to the day’s running was the road cleaning. The more cars went through, the faster the roads became. Breen and Nagle started eighth on the road while Lindholm and Korhonen were ninth.
The first stage of the day saw a 25 km test with the crews battling to take the advantage so early on. Lindholm took fifth on the first stage, while Breen was eighth. Stage 2 saw a further 17.45 km and Lindholm repeated his fifth position from the first stage while Breen took seventh to move into seventh the first service.
It became clear through the day that while the road would be clearing, hanging dust would be an issue. Breen in the MRF Tyres Hyundai i20 R5 had to slow slightly in the third stage because of the dust, but he still ended up sixth.
Lindholm, however found his groove in his Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo, finishing second on stage, just 5.6 seconds off stage winner, Oliver Solberg. Lindholm had a small spin on the final stage of the day, dropping more than 10 seconds. Despite this, he ends the day in sixth.
Breen consolidated his position in the final stage, taking advantage of Lindholm’s issue to leap from his Team MRF Tyres stablemate to end the day in fifth. Breen sits just 0.2 seconds off Eerik Pietarinen in fourth. The two MRF Tyres drivers are separated by just 6.2 seconds at the end of day.
The final day of Rally Liepaja sees the crews stay closer to Liepaja, with six stages over a further 88 km. There will be just the one service throughout the day, meaning that any mistakes will be punished.
Craig Breen (Driver, Hyundai i20 R5) 5th : “Today was a tough day. We lost some time in the dust which was hanging in the air. We were doing as much as we could throughout the day. The direction of development for the tyres is positive and this is the first time I have run on these tyres in the European Championship. "
Emil Lindholm (Driver, Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo) 6th : "The roads are challenging. There are a lot of fast sections but then some narrow roads and it is quite difficult to find the entry to those parts. We had a spin on SS4 which cost us a bit of time.
"I pushed throughout the day and I am happy with my pace and the wear of the tyres. The loops and the stages were long and the wear and the grip were good. We are continuing to get data for development of these tyres so that is good.”
Team MRF Tyres have taken provisional fifth and sixth positions in Rally Liepaja, the second round of the FIA European Rally Championship. In the first ERC event for the Team MRF Tyres, Craig Breen & Paul Nagle in the Hyundai i20 R5 showed great pace to take fifth position.
The duo had battled dust problems on Saturday’s stages and made changes to the car in the overnight service to find additional pace for the six Sunday stages. The Sunday stages saw six stages in two loops, for a total distance of 87.66 km. The weather was sunny and warm and the dusty gravel roads meant that the road sweeping effect was in full force. Meaning the more cars that ran on the road, the more grip there was.
Breen/Nagle started the day by taking fifth on SS5 – the longest of the day at 18.11 km. This was followed by sixth on SS6. Unfortunately, an issue on SS7 meant the crew lost 56 seconds and fell down the leader board.
They bounced back on the other side of service taking the second-best time on SS8. The time of 7:55.4 was just 1.5seconds off the stage winner, Mads Ostberg & Torstein Eriksen. After the short stage nine, they had consolidated their fifth place in their first gravel rally in the ERC with MRF Tyres.
For Emil Lindholm & Mikael Korhonen, it was a tough start to the day. The duo started sixth but an awkward landing after a jump saw them take to a field. They were able to get back on stage and continue in sixth but the battle to move up the leader board had ended. Their rally became one of consolidation and, importantly data gathering.
They came home in sixth just 1.8 seconds behind their Team MRF Tyres stablemates. Lindholm & Korhonen are also competing in the ERC1 Junior Championship. It is a very positive result for the Finnish duo in that category, taking a second behind Solberg/Johnston.
The final positions of fifth and sixth represent a positive finish for Team MRF Tyres. By pushing the boundaries and gaining important data against some of the best competition, the products will continue to improve.
The next round of the 2020 European Rally Championship takes place on the Portuguese Islands with the Azores Rallye. Craig Breen & Paul Nagle along with Emil Lindholm & Mikael Korhonen will compete on the gravel stage from 17-19 September.
Craig Breen (Driver, Hyundai i20 R5) 5th : “It was a tough rally but we showed some good pace. It was important that we got to the end of the rally to pick up good points and get more data for the development of the tyres. We are pushing the tyres to the limits and we are aggressive on the development of the tyre. The MRF Tyres are durable and it is important to learn develop the tyres. We are happy with the direction of the development of the tyres.
"Being able to take a second on one stage was good and shows our pace. What happened to us on SS7 could have happened to anyone. I am looking forward to continuing on gravel at the next round in the Azores Rallye.”
Emil Lindholm (Driver, Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo) 6th: We wanted to make sure we got to the end of this rally. After our moment in the morning, our focus certainly turned to consolidating our sixth place and gaining data. Saying that, we did have some good pace through the weekend.”
" Taking a second on a stage is encouraging and like Craig, the development of the MRF Tyres is going in the right direction. It was also important to get the points in ERC1 Junior. We finished second in that class, which is quite a positive result for us and Team MRF Tyres!”
Emil Lindholm [Copyright: MRF Racing]
The team backed by MRF Tyres had a healthy start to 2020 ERC campaign
[Image courtesy: MRF Racing] [Note: The above story is as per the press release with no edits made]