4 September 2023
Latvia’s leading road racing pilot Valters Zviedris became the champion of the 2023 “Porsche Sprint Challenge NEZ” series on 1-2 September 2023 in Finland. The 3rd and 4th place finishes at the final stage of the season at the Alastaro track were enough for Valters to protect his lead in the overall standings and celebrate a fantastic achievement both for himself and for Latvian autosport at the end of the weekend.
After finishing third in Friday’s qualifying, Valters started from the third starting position in the first race. Qualifying winner Henri Tuomala ahead of him delayed the start a bit, and as a result, Valters had to go around and pass him, losing time to the next row starters. Thus, Salonens, the main competitor of the general standings, rose to first place, and Finland’s Jani Kakela rushed past the Latvian athlete in the chaos of the start. While Valters tried to pass the slower Finnish pilot, Salonen managed to get away and build a lead of several seconds.
On the fourth lap, Kakela spun right when Valters was right next to him on the outside, forcing Valters to avoid the crash, and he lost a place to Tuomala. In the further course of the race, Valters stayed in the third position, coping well with the pressure of the Lithuanian Roberta Kupčikas behind him in the final part of the competition. So, at the finish line, the first two Finns, Salonen and Tuomala, while Valters in the third place. It should be noted that Valters managed to show the third fastest lap time, which gave him the third starting position in the second race behind Kupčikas and Tuomala, but ahead of the championship title contender Salonen.
Heavy rain came again between the first and second race, but it managed to dry up by the start of the second race, and all the athletes went on the track with dry weather tires. In the second race, the start of the first three – Kupčikas, Tuomala and Zviedris – was good, and they were in this order even after the first turns, one behind the other. Unlucky start this time for Salonen, who lost two positions and, after the first lap, ranked only in sixth place.
While the first three drove at a similar pace and broke away from the others, the Finnish title contender had to fight with Kakel and Estonian Tomas Kangro. Around the middle of the race, however, Salonen passed them and began to get closer to Valters, who was in third place. Although Salonen managed to pass Valters with a couple of laps to go, he was no longer able to catch up to Finnish driver Tuomala in second place. Thus, the order of finish was Kupčikas, Tuomala, Salonens and Zviedris, which was enough for Valters to achieve a historic success and become the champion of the Porsche Sprint Challenge NEZ.
“Since the nearest competitor Salonen won the first race, this left me with only a five-point lead before the decisive race. The start in the second race was good, I saw that Salonen was a little behind. I knew in advance that it was enough for me to either finish ahead of him or exactly one position behind him for the title. I got to fight with him for two laps, but I saw that he was a bit faster in this race. The local drivers may have had practice before this race, as this was a completely new configuration. I myself even got to learn the track, because all Thursday and Friday training sessions were conducted on a wet track, so I didn’t ride enough on a dry track,” said Valters Zviedris about the two races.
“I am very happy that I managed to win the championship title with this fourth place in the second race, it was a very tight fight until the very end. A huge thanks to the team and all the supporters, because it really turned out to be a perfect season. From the beginning we thought that we would only ride a few stages, but in the end, it turned into a champion season, fantastic! We are happy with where we are and what we have achieved together, but we will certainly not stop there. Let’s continue to work on going further and further in the world,” comments Valters on his “Porsche Sprint Challange NEZ” champion season.
Valters and the team say a big thanks to all the supporters of this season, without whom this championship season at the wheel of the highest level of world equipment would not have been possible: “Baltijas Sporta Auto – Porsche Latvija”, “Optibet Latvija”, “AOX Trade”, Jūrmala, “Visit Jūrmala “, “Blue Shock Race”, “NPK Expert”, “Joker club”, “Energolukss”, “I-Con” and SIA “Dārta”.
It should be noted that this is already the third championship season for Valters in a row – in 2021, he won the title of the Baltic champion in the world’s popular TCR class, followed in 2022 by winning the title of the Baltic champion in the “BMW 325 Cup” class in an impressive competition. After the victory of the North European “Porsche” championship, the next steps are already being thought of to continue to spread the name of Latvia to the whole world.
In Latvian –