Performance and progress on Latvian gravel
It had been such a long time since my last rally - Rally Sarma back in February – so it was fantastic to be back behind the wheel of my Peugeot 208 R2 again last Saturday at Rally Talsi, the third round of the Latvian and Estonian Junior Rally Championships.
Unlike the first two rallies of the season which were winter events, this was a pure gravel rally which is a surface I have a bit more experience on. With a good test behind us it meant we could hit the ground running and show our speed.
And that’s exactly what we did, winning the first 3 stages and driving fast and confidently. However things went a bit wrong on SS4 – we had a hole in our brake pipe, which we only found out after going flat out on a very long straight and not managing to stop in time at the end… the result was losing almost 10 minutes in a ditch while some spectators tried to push us out (thanks to them!), and then a frantic rush to get back to service in time so our mechanics could work their magic on our broken radiator.
After a very busy service, our Peugeot 208 R2 was fixed! I have to say a huge thanks to my team for their hard work. It meant we could get out for the afternoon loop and get more valuable stage miles, setting 2 more fastest stage times and four second-fastest times in the process. After our time loss earlier in the day it wasn’t enough to improve our overall position, but it was very encouraging and showed great progress.
I really feel like we developed a lot in this rally – we won 5 out of the 8 stages we completed, and I felt a lot more comfortable with the pacenotes too. It now feels more ‘automatic’ to drive to the pacenotes without thinking, which is vital in order to reach your potential.
The competition in my class is really tough too and a great way to measure my own speed. The eventual winner of Rally Talsi, Mārtiņš Sesks, is 2nd overall in the ERC Junior standings, so to be able to set faster times than him on many stages is fantastic and a really good sign we’re heading in the right direction.
With so many positives to take away from Rally Talsi it sets us up really well for the rest of the season where we will try and push even more and hopefully avoid any more bad luck. We are still second in the Latvian and Estonian Junior Championships and really looking forward to the next event, Rally Estonia in mid-July. Before then I have a couple of RallyX Nordic races, hopefully some more testing, and lots of schoolwork to do.
Thank you as always for all your support, and talk to you again soon.
p.s. make sure you’re following me on social media (@oliversolberg01) for all the latest news and live results from all the events I’m competing in!