Rallycross star Nitišs makes ERC return in Abarth Rally Cup

Rallycross star Nitišs makes ERC return in Abarth Rally Cup

15/05/2019 at 12:00Updated 15/05/2019 at 12:41

Reinis Nitišs, one of the biggest motorsport stars in the Baltics, will contest the Abarth Rally Cup on his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship next week.

The youngest driver to win a round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, 23-year-old Nitišs has entered Rally Liepāja in Latvia from 24-26 May.

He will drive an Abarth 124 rally from French team Milano Racing and will also be eligible for ERC2 points under changes to the regulations for 2019 designed to widen participation in the showroom-based category. Compatriot Māris Kulšs has been recruited to co-drive.

“I am anxiously awaiting Rally Liepāja, which promises to be fast, technical and filled with intrigue,” said Nitišs. “With that, I am even more excited about the chance to compete and gain valuable experience. Rally Liepāja will be the final rally to take place in Latvia this year and the weather forecast is quite good.”

Nitišs is no stranger to the fast and flowing Latvian stages having tackled selected rallies in his homeland since 2015. He has three Rally Liepāja starts to his name and also has knowledge of the roads in the Talsi region, where the opening leg of this year’s Rally Rally Liepāja will be based. However, the Abarth 124 rally marks unchartered territory for the Latvian talent.

“I am ready for a completely new and unexpected challenge,” Nitišs said. “I will be competing in a car that is a bit unusual and rarely seen in Latvia – the rear-wheel-drive Abarth 124 rally. It’s an Italian car serviced by a French team, and we plan to have one test day before the rally. My only experience competing with rear-wheel drive comes from karting, buggy and races in the LADA Cup, so testing will be very important. It will also be a chance to get up to speed with my new co-driver, the experienced Māris Kulšs.”

Nitišs admitted he feared he would have to sit out his home round of the ERC to cover the costs of a crash in the Abu Dhabi FIA World RX event earlier this year. However, several key partners have stepped in to provide support. They are Circle K, Ginalas, Ošukalns, Citadele, Latvijas Valsts Meži, airBaltic, Vizionette, Rīgas Brīvosta, the city of Jēkabpils, Gefa Latvija, Auto 5, If apdrošināšana, RA Events and DELFI.

The Abarth Rally Cup, which began on Rally Islas Canarias at the start of May, runs in conjunction with the FIA European Rally Championship in 2019. Contested over six rounds of the eight-event ERC, the Abarth Rally Cup is open to competitors using the enhanced-for-2019 Abarth 124 rally, the lightweight, rear-wheel-drive Italian sportscar, which conforms to the FIA’s R-GT category technical regulations.

Abarth Rally Cup competitors chase an attractive round-by-round and end-of-season prize fund. On each round the winner receives €12,000, the driver in second place gets €10,000, the third-place driver receives €8,000, fourth place gets €4,000 plus four Pirelli tyres. At the end of the season the Abarth Rally Cup winner receives a final prize of €30,000. Alberto Monarri won the opening round, while Pole Dariusz Poloński will be a contender for the Abarth Rally Cup win on Rally Liepāja due to his familiarity with driving on high-speed gravel events. Andrea Nucita from Italy will also be one to watch.