|PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition.|
The Lithuanian was on form straight out of the blocks in Q1 and with an early joker lap, he was able to charge to victory ahead of Andreas Bakkerud and Robin Larsson. In Q2, Baciuška finished fourth overall and would lead the overnight standings by five intermediate points.
"The day was quite good. I’m really happy to be here again P1 overnight, and together with my teammate, GCK is P1 and P3, it’s amazing," said Baciuška. "Last year Anton tested here and did a good setup for the car."
"Tomorrow rain is coming and I hope the Megane will also work well, but it’s another day so it’s difficult to speak about that now. All of these drivers have a lot of experience, it’s unbelievable that I’m in this position."
Niclas Gronholm found pace in Q2 after a bad start in Q1 that saw him finish in ninth overall. Monster Energy RX Cartel's Liam Doran had the best launch off the line in Q2 Race 2, but the Finn was hounding the Briton and by opting for an earlier joker lap. The pair came out of the standard lap and joker merge neck and neck. While Doran defended the standard line, Gronholm switched to an inside line and clinched the race win and in the process set the fastest time of the session.
"I had a bad launch in Q1, then took some hits in turn one and two, so it was difficult to do anything better," Gronholm said. "I felt the driving was okay, the car wasn’t perfect but we fixed it for Q2 and I had quite a clean run to get the undercut in the end on Liam. I could have been faster I think, but anyway it was enough."
GCK’s Anton Marklund, who finished ahead of Baciuska in Q2 ended day one in third overall.
Andreas Bakkerud is the highest place championship contender after the opening day in Riga, holding fourth overall in the intermediate standings, one place ahead of rival Kevin Hansen with teammate Liam Doran in sixth.
Timmy Hansen had a day to forget in Latvia. The Swede got pushed off the circuit at turn two, and despite opting for an early joker lap he lost time to the leading pack. The last corner melee in Q1 with Robin Larsson did not help his chances either as he ended the session in seventh overall.
That battle continued in Q2, while Doran took the lead into turn one, Larsson took the inside line through turn one and into the turn two right-hander, where they made contact. To add to Timmy Hansen's frustration, he also made contact with EKS Audi driver Krisztian Szabo and the pair ended up in the turn 2 wall.
The Swede was able to continue briefly but moments later after the jump, his rear right suspension broke and he would retire a lap later.
Following the race, Larsson was disqualified for “Causing a collision in T2 with #21 (Hansen) and #123 (Krisztian Szabo)”.
Rain is expected in Latvia for Sunday’s action and after the random draw, the slowest drivers from Q2 will start in Race 1 of Q3 tomorrow morning.