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Heikkilä's technical troubles eased up on Sunday


Mikko Heikkilä secured a seventh-place finish at Tet Rally Liepaja. Technical issues with his car plagued the driver from Nurmijärvi since the qualifying stage. Despite the problems and a time penalty, Heikkilä fought his way to seventh place. Mikko Heikkilä, 31, together with his co-driver Samu Vaaleri, 26, clinched seventh place in the fourth round of the European Rally Championship (ERC) at Tet Rally Liepaja. The Racing Factory team driver faced a frustrating rally due to technical troubles and a time penalty. The schedule for the opening day of the rally was reduced to five special stages from the original six after Stage 2 was cancelled for safety reasons. Heikkilä struggled with his starting position and issues with his car, but his strong effort on the opening day earned him fifth place at the overnight halt. -Tomorrow, our starting position will be slightly better. We'll aim to continue without mistakes. Today, there weren't many, just a few minor ones. Hopefully, our times will improve tomorrow, summarized Heikkilä as he looked ahead to the final day of the rally. Sunday started off on a sour note for Heikkilä as he received a 30-second time penalty for checking in late into time control. However, the service work done to the car paid off as Heikkilä attacked the final day's special stages with a well-functioning four-wheel-drive car, recording the second-fastest time in two of the morning stages. "Our rear differential has been broken throughout the entire competition, causing it to slip and lose power in the rear wheels. Thanks to the team for identifying the issue during the service. I'd rather take a time penalty and have a working car. It's more enjoyable to drive with four-wheel drive rather than front-wheel drive. The main thing is that the problem was found," shared Heikkilä. Heikkilä kicked off the final loop of stages by clocking a time over two seconds faster than his competitors. Ultimately, Heikkilä finished the rally in seventh position. "The positive thing is that we found the issue that had been bothering us since the qualifying rounds. But otherwise, the day has mainly been frustrating. We don't come here just to drive through the stages. Our pace seems to be enough for a podium finish on gravel rallies, but there's always something that causes trouble for us and sometimes we can’t really control it," sighed Heikkilä. Although the result wasn't what the Skoda driver had hoped for in Latvia, his Sunday pace with a working car was closer to the classic Heikkilä. The focus now turns to the next round in Sweden, the Royal Rally of Scandinavia, in early July. "We thank all our partners and apologize for not succeeding this time either. We gave it our best, and we'll keep pushing hard in the future as well. A big thanks to the team as well, as they had to put in extra effort when we had to change the engine after the tests. Also, thanks to Michelin for providing great performance in the varying conditions," concluded Heikkilä. The ERC continues with the Royal Rally of Scandinavia in Sweden on July 7-8. Tet Rally Liepaja results: 1. Martins Sesks 1:22:47,3 LVA Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 2. Hayden Paddon +41,4 NZL Hyundai i20 N Rally2 3. Mads Ostberg +1:04,0 NOR Citroen C3 Rally2 4. Josh McErlean +1:23,9 IRE Hyundai i20 N Rally2 5. Robert Virves +1:27,8 EST Ford Fiesta Rally2 7. Mikko Heikkilä +1:38,5 FIN Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo ERC unofficial point standings after 4/8 rounds: 1. Hayden Paddon 113 2. Martins Sesks 83 3. Mads Ostberg 69 4. Efren Llarena 50 5. Mathieu Franceschi 50 6. Mikko Heikkilä 45

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