Latvian hotshot stays cool amid rising expectations for high-speed Tet Rally Liepāja.

Marti?š Sesks will bid for a repeat victory on his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship this week – after going into hiding.

The Latvian’s unusual preparation for Tet Rally Liepaja, which takes place from 16 – 18 June, was an effort to keep focused amid of wave of media and fan interest following his victory on the previous ERC event in Poland.

Having taken first place on Tet Rally Liepaja for the first time in 2022 by winning all 12 stages, the 23-year-old is being billed as a firm favourite to win again this week.

But Sesks, who was born in Liepaja and drives a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 for Team MRF Tyres, is keeping those expectations in check.

“I was in radio silence for the last weeks, living quietly with an easy preparation, trying to hide a little bit because everyone is talking and I want to talk with the results after the rally,” he said.

“There is just one question from the media and one topic and it’s about [winning]. I’m staying low on this point with no big expectations. For sure we will do our best and prepare as we are doing for every rally. But I am a driver for the full ERC season and this is one of eight rallies. We have to look for the big picture.”

Strong entry for Liepaja’s fast-paced ERC contest
Tet Rally Liepaja organisers have attracted an entry of 58 crews with 46 eligible for ERC points and 17 lining up for action in the Hankook-equipped FIA Junior ERC Championship, of which the Latvian event is the second round of the season, having hosted the very first Junior ERC event back in 2014.

Twenty drivers are entered in headlining Rally2 cars, including Pirelli-equipped championship leader Hayden Paddon from the Hyundai-equipped BRC Racing Team, Team MRF Tyres’ defending ERC champion Efrén Llarena and Mathieu Franceschi, the French gravel title winner from 2022, who is the highest-seeded driver using Michelin tyres.

Citroën C3 Rally2-driving Mads Østberg, meanwhile, joins Paddon as one of two WRC event winners in the field. Max McRae, the 18-year-old nephew of the late Colin McRae, is all set for his second Junior ERC appearance following his points-scoring debut in Poland.

The ERC stars and their cars will be put through their paces on 10 stages measuring 183.89 kilometres. Highlights include back-to-back passes of the largely untried Tukums test on leg one, a super special stage through Liepaja’s city streets on Saturday evening and the rally-deciding Krogzemji Power Stage from 15:05 local time on Sunday.