Opel’s Rallye Junior Team has won the first race in this year’s European Rallye Championship Junior series, the Rallye Liepaja in Latvia. Swedish driver Emil Bergkvist and co-driver Joakim Sjöberg raced their Adam R2 to victory in the grueling 11-round rally, finishing 30-seconds ahead of the next closest competitor, Steve Rokland in his Peugeot 208 R2.
Bergkvist and Sjöberg got off to a strong start at the rally, and ended up finishing sixth position overall, faster than some of the competing all-wheel drive cars, which are much more powerful than their 190 horsepower Adam R2. Fellow Opel Rallye Junior teammates Marijan Griebel and co-driver Stefan Clemens were less lucky, sliding off of a sharp curve into a ditch, rolling their car. The crash site was almost 100 miles from the race’s end in Liepaja, taking them hours to get back to the service area.
The serious conditions throughout the rally also took their toll on Opel’s customer teams. Polish driver Aleks Zawada and his French co-driver Cathy Derousseaux slid into a ditch, forcing them to withdrawal from the race, while German Julius Tannert and co-driver Jennifer Thielen lost a wheel in the second round. Tannert was able to rejoin the rally on the second day and eventually reached the finish line in Liepaja.
The Opel Rallye Junior Team will make their next appearance at the ADAC Saarland-Pfalz Rallye in Germany. They will also compete in the next leg of the European Rallye Championship Junior in Ireland on April 2.