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Rally Saaremaa 2005 has finished [Kuresaare, Estonia 22.-23.04.2005]

One more rally has finished. It was the first summer event this year – Saaremaa rahvaralli 2005. As usual the rally length was 2 days (Friday and saturtday) but we started on Thursday and ended up only on Sunday.

We left Cesis on Thursday on 2pm because Saaremaa is an island in Estonia, and we had to take ferry – so we wanted to make sure we make everything on time and came there in the previous evening. We stayed in Nasva – not far from Kuresaare – the capital of Saaremaa island where the rally centre was located.

Friday morning we got all the rally documents and went thru technical control. We also had the reconnaissance in the first day (only for one half of the track) and the start was given only in the evening – 8 pm. Our start number was 139 so our starting time was on 10:16 pm – when it was dark already. There were 10 stages total in this rally. First 3 were on Friday night. I didn’t really like those first ones because first two were held on bad roads and the third one was in a dolomite-pit very tight and slow corners and big holes, too. In one corner of the first stage there was some kind of a plastic band on the road. We drove on it and our car slipped almost ending up in a rock wall. After day 1 we were only 39th absolute out of 143. Luckily there was a regrouping which gave us the opportunity to start in day 2 39th not 139th as in day 1.

Saturday early morning (6 am) was the reconnaissance of the rest of the stages and our start was on 10:57 am. Fourth stage was just super cool. It was held in a super special track made with a very hard driving surface. Driving the fourth stage was like in a dream – sliding from corner to corner with no holes at all. Plus there was a jump – for more action! Only the end of this stage was a little tough – the last corner, which was tight, was on dirty tarmac. Of course we had our gravel tires on and the tail of the car slipped too much almost getting us into a ditch. The 5th stage was fast and sometimes a bit muddy. Sometimes the speed went over 130km/h (80 mph) but it was a lot better than all the slow and bumpy roads in day 1. My favorite stage was stage 6, which was also fast and the longest. The surface of the road was quite hard except for some speed-reducers or blocks, which they use to make the cars to brake and make some kind of a slow figure between big tires on the road. The 7th stage was almost the same as 4th only backwards. The surface of the road with no changes – smooth like a table. 8th stage was the same 5th but only with a lot more holes and bumps on the road. As a result – we made it 4 seconds slower than previous time. And then came the best stage again – 9th was the same as 6th just for the second time. Plus we made it even 2 seconds faster than previous time. This was also the best time I got comparing to other drivers – 30th place in stage 9. But in one not too big bump in the road – our on-board camera turned itself off – so we have only half of this stage, which is a pity. The last stage was again held in that super special track and this time it was made as a super special stage (it is like 2 cars competing at the same time – it like a show in World Rally Championship). Unfortunately we lost our competitor 1,2 seconds but that wasn’t that important.

As a result we placed in 31st place absolute out of 143 cars and 10th out of 11 cars in our group (4WD). It was hard to compete with other guys in my class because all of those who are in front of us have turbines. Of course it makes a much bigger difference on gravel than it made on snow. Because Estonians don’t have that much drivers on 4-wheel-drive as in Latvia, they don’t divide the turbo-charged cars apart from atmospheric engines. We did beat one Subaru in 2 stages (1st and 4th), thou.

This rally winner was Jaanus Murakas with Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. I would like to mention also the other two drivers’ from Latvia results: Vitalijs Jonins/Gunars Eglitis with VW golf took 32nd place absolute (only 1,0 second after us) and 9th place in their group (2WDa) out of 25 cars. The second driver was Daniela Stipniece/Maksims Jeveljanovs with Toyota Celica. They finished 100th absolute and 3rd in their group (ladies). Congratulations for a podium finish!

Concluding this topic I have to say that overall Estonians have better cars and better drivers than Latvians do. Their “standard cars” are far from standard (how they came from factory).

Full results table available here.
The next rally event is very soon – on 14.-15. May in Liepaja, Latvia.



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