Tibor Érdi Jr made a winning start to his ERC2 campaign with a convincing class win on Latvia’s round of the FIA European Rally Championship.

With Rally Liepāja a personal favourite for the double ERC2 champion, Érdi Jr was quickly into his stride, going fastest in the showroom category on the first seven stages with co-driver Szabolcs Kovács by his side.

Local expert provides a helping hand
It was the first time Érdi Jr’s family team had brought its own Mitsubishi Lancer to the high-speed gravel event having rented equipment from local teams in the past. Top Latvian Mitsubishi exponentJānisVorobjovs was called on to provide expert set-up tips.

Tough start following sad news
“Unfortunately, we got the worst news you can get, the fatal accident of co-driver Zsolt Tóth on the Miskolc Rallye in Hungary shortly before the start on the Saturday morning. It was a very bad start and we were not concentrated in the first lop.”

Things improve
“It smoothed out a bit later and we built up a bigger advantage by the end of the first day, even though a stone damaged our windscreen, so we had to replace it in the Saturday evening parc fermé by ourselves.”

Building a big advantage
With three stages remaining, Érdi Jr’s lead of the ERC2 category was more than two minutes. But then trouble struck.

“I heard a strange sound in the regroup in front of the service park and I informed the team about it right away, because it was like a cylinder stopped working," Érdi Jr explained. “Unfortunately, that was really the case, but we didn’t know what to do quickly, so we had to continue.

“Szabolcs told us to give up before the damage in engine got bigger, but I decided to continue. I didn’t think we could win like this anyway, but after the first stage we already calculated that we might have a chance, because the car could still make it through the fast sections very well. Towards the end of his last stage, however, engine simply stalled.

“I switched back to second gear when it somehow restarted, so we could come down from the stage. We kept our advantage, we won, but we still had to reach the service park - and then in the regroup I was afraid that the engine wouldn’t start again, but luckily it lasted. So we were very happy.”

ERC Q&A: Alexey Lukyanuk

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