Qualifying Stage will be crucial in Latvia
Road position can be crucial
Rally Liepāja-Ventspils will host the first Qualifying Stage of the FIA European Rally Championship season.
Following a period of Free Practice from 08:00hrs local time on Friday 1 February, at 09:30hrs, 12 priority crews get one run to go as fast as possible over a 5.89-kilometre course.
At 13:00hrs local time following the pre-event press conference, the quickest driver in qualifying will select their starting position for later in the day first with the second fastest driver next to choose and so on until all drivers have made their selection. Non-priority drivers will start leg one in seeded order.
Road position can be crucial on loose-surface rallies. On snow events, the preference is to start lower down the order in the event of recent snowfall to benefit from a more compact and stable surface. However, it can also pay to start closer to the front of the field if the stage surface deteriorates with ruts forming and the gravel base beneath becoming exposed.
When this occurs, the studded tyres – tyre companies Michelin and Yokohama are official ERC partners – used on winter rallies to carve through the surface snow and bite into the rock-hard ice beneath, are liable to significant damage, which leads to a loss of grip.