Lukyanuk title hopes alive with Roma win

Lukyanuk title hopes alive with Roma winFrom General Article [ 23/07/2018 ].
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Alexey Lukyanuk resisted a late challenge from double FIA European Rally Championship winner Giandomenico Basso for victory on Rally di Roma Capitale, securing his third win this season alongside co-driver Alexey Arnautov. Basso had more than halved Lukyanuk’s lead in a single stage on Sunday afternoon, but ran out of competitive kilometres to catch the Russian Performance Motorsport driver, falling short by 7.5s. Grzegorz Grzyb held two rivals at bay to secure a “dream” podium finish which far exceeded his own expectations for this rally. Ten-time Italian champion Paolo Andreucci had closed to within two seconds of Grzyb in fourth but crashed out.

His other challenger for a podium was ERC Junior Under 28 category winner Fabian Kreim. Keen to secure his first ever class win and vital points for his championship challenge, Kreim focused on reaching the finish while improving his confidence, happy to let Grzyb escape and finish fourth overall.

Bruno Magalhães was happier with his SEAJETS-backed ŠKODA Fabia R5’s performance and pace on Sunday than in Leg One. But the Portuguese could not make the progress he desired though, with one of two passes through Leg Two’s longest stage cancelled, he lacked opportunities to climb his way further up the classification and settled for fifth.

ERC Junior U28 runner-up Chris Ingram was a star performer on Sunday, scoring his first outright stage victory on SS13, shared with Basso on equal times. Ingram had started Sunday 50.9s behind ŠKODA junior driver Juuso Nordgren but made up all that time plus more, jumping to sixth overall with one stage remaining and demoting Nordgren to seventh.

Fredrik Åhlin was in good spirits, capturing a second consecutive ERC Junior U28 podium finish on his way to eighth overall. Like Ingram he had lost time with a puncture on Saturday but also with a driveshaft failure on Friday, overcoming both for a strong class finish.

Orhan Avcioğlu came agonisingly close to finishing in ninth, coming into the rally’s final stage with only 1.3s in hand over local entrant Marco Pollara. A botched handbake turn at a roundabout on Ostia’s rally-closing superspecial sent him into the barriers, costing him nearly seven seconds as he reversed out. Pollara seized on Avcioğlu’s error, taking advantage of his mistake to score ninth place on his ERC debut and demote Avcioğlu to P10.

The FIA RGT class was won by Raphaël Astier, who beat his Abarth 124 rivals Andrea Modanesi in second and Andrea Nucita in third. Astier secured victory despite being forced to nurse his car home with a broken differential through Sunday’s afternoon loop. Modanesi and Nucita had both retired on Saturday.

Leg two recap: Campedelli crowned comeback king as Lukyanuk wraps up win

Simone Campedelli demonstrated on Leg Two of Rally di Roma Capitale why he had worried Alexey Lukyanuk enough for the Russian to hide a broken anti-roll bar from his rivals on Saturday afternoon.

Orange1 Racing’s Campedelli won the Italian championship section of this event last year and gave Lukyanuk every reason to be wary before his retirement from two punctures yesterday. With Campedelli intent on securing maximum leg points on his Sunday restart, Lukyanuk was focused on a different Italian driver, double ERC champion Giandomenico Basso.

Though highly experienced in the ERC and on his homeland’s Tarmac roads, he was piloting a ŠKODA Fabia R5 for only the second time in his career and with a new co-driver, Swiss Moira Lucca. Being able to home in on the Russian rocket was not a given.

Lukyanuk had set a target of beating SEAJETS-backed championship leader Bruno Magalhães and ERC Junior U28 title protagonist Nikolay Gryazin, his sights firmly set on recouping lost points in his title fight. With both out of the equation, he backed off in stage 10, though at the end of the stage he quickly realised he’d backed off a little too much.

Basso had carved 9.5s out of Lukyanuk’s lead in only 12.4 kilometres, separating the pair by only 6.3s. After initially appearing unconcerned about what the local Italian drivers would do, Lukyanuk realised he needed to push. <> There was retaliation from Lukyanuk in stage 11, going fastest by 1.2s from second quickest Basso. Another eight tenths gained by Basso over Rocca di Cave’s 28.6 kilometres after midday service was a success for Lukyanuk, and when the same Monastero stage in which Basso had made such large gains that same morning was cut short by a crash for Paolo Andreucci, his victory hopes were effectively ended.

A three-way battle over third had its largest shake-up on Sunday morning’s second stage. Overnight podium-sitter and ERC Junior Under 28 leader Fabian Kreim was deposed by both Grzegorz Grzyb and Andreucci, conceding 9s and 10.2s respectively to the pair. With no experience to fall back on Kreim was keen to wrap up his class win without becoming involved in a tense battle for an overall podium. It was a good decision.

As Grzyb and Andreucci traded faster times, the latter edged to within 2.1s of a podium when disaster struck. He crashed his PEUGEOT 208 T16 with less than one kilometre remaining in stage 13, blocking the road and causing nominal times to be needed for Basso, Grzyb and Kreim behind him on the road.

Luckily both he and co-driver David Castiglioni were fine, especially given Andreucci had fractured his lower vertebrae only days earlier in a testing accident.

Try as he might Magalhães was unable to lift himself into podium contention despite a clearly stated ambition to do so. His target had been to gain time on Sunday’s two passes of Rocca di Cave, so when the first was cancelled his plans were immediately derailed. SEAJETS-backed Magalhães’ sixth place became fifth when Andreucci retired but an intermittent power delivery issue the night before meant a podium wasn't possible when he was potentially capable of more.

ERC Junior U28 class runner-up Chris Ingram was determined to make amends for a puncture which had cost him on Saturday. He demonstrated his potential with a stage victory, shared with Basso, on SS13.

Ingram took chunk after chunk of time out of fellow Fabia pilot Nordgren throughout Leg Two, eventually surpassing the ŠKODA development driver for sixth with one stage remaining. Though there were not enough kilometres left to catch ERC Junior U28 winner Kreim, Ingram gained close to half a minute across six stages on his championship rival.

Nordgren may have finished only seventh but his result came as a direct consequence of a learning-first approach. With little experience on asphalt he was keen to complete every kilometre while gradually building up his speed, conceding that taking a restrained approach this weekend would help him in future rallies. It secured Nordgren his first ERC points, giving the young Finn a solid base to build on.

Toksport WRT’s Orhan Avcioğlu had emphasised having a clean, mistake-free rally. Having already scored points this season in a similar fashion, it was a sensible choice of approach. Avcioğlu had moved into the top 10 as others hit trouble and was all set for ninth place despite local entrant Marco Pollara closing him down.

Pollara had nearly passed Avcioğlu in stage 14 but overshooting a hairpin forced him to reverse and gave the Turkish driver a 1.3s advantage with only a 650-metre blast around Ostia remaining. It was so near yet so far for Avcioğlu however, as a handbrake turn gone wrong at one Ostia’s roundabouts sent him into the barriers, costing him nearly seven seconds as he reversed out. This handed Pollara 5.3 seconds, more than enough to snatch ninth place away at the very end and demote Avcioğlu to P10.

ERC Junior U28’s Nikolay Gryazin demonstrated what might have been with a Leg Two performance on a par with rally winner Lukyanuk, going fourth fastest across Sunday’s stages and only 15.9s behind pace-setter Campedelli.

A trio of top four stage times showed what he was capable of, pushing hard enough that he collided with a tunnel wall at one point without sustaining damage.

ERC Junior U28: Kreim scores first win from resurgent Ingram

Fabian Kreim wrapped up a first FIA ERC Junior Under 28 category victory on Rally di Roma Capitale to strengthen his title aspirations, while Chris Ingram impressed with an overall stage win on his way to second place. Before Sunday had even begun Kreim knew he was in a prime position to score his maiden ERC Junior U28 win, ignoring a potential fight for an overall podium finish to lock down maximum category points. Still learning his pacenotes and finding a rhythm on his Rally di Roma Capitale debut, the ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland driver kept a cool head to wrap up victory by 1m15.7s from Ingram behind. It was stellar Leg Two performance from Ingram however, winning stage 13 outright against more experienced opposition, tied for fastest time with double ERC champion Giandomenico Basso. Ingram had led ERC Junior U28 briefly before a puncture on Saturday afternoon, a misfortune third placed Fredrik Åhlin also suffered. Come Sunday it was a drama-free day for both and a second consecutive podium finish for Åhlin. ACCR Czech Team’s Jan Černý had the honour of driving the same Ford Fiesta R5 which Bryan Bouffier had piloted to overall victory by only 0.2s on this event last year. Though unhappy with his pace on Saturday, Černý felt his speed improve during Leg Two. He wrapped up his rally in fourth, 4m57.0s behind winner Kreim. By losing four minutes in a single stage through punctures Rhys Yates was taken out of podium contention, settling down into a better rhythm on Sunday to wrap up a top five finish and important points for his ERC Junior U28 campaign. Nikolay Gryazin was certain to finish no higher than sixth bar rivals hitting trouble. Despite his predicament, Gryazin pushed on at speed, going faster than all his ERC Junior U28 rivals across Sunday’s six stages to win Leg Two and precious leg points for his title bid.

ERC Under 27: Sesks scoops first Junior win and ERC3 victory

Mārtiņš Sesks belied his 18 years with a mature, faultless performance to score a first Pirelli-supported FIA ERC Junior Under 27 win on Rally di Roma Capitale, also scooping victory in ERC3 and leading home a 1-2 finish for the ADAC Opel Junior Rallye Team. ERC Junior Experience graduate Sesks, from Latvia, took advantage of knowledge gleaned from recceing the event in 2017 to hit the ground running, holding over a minute in hand over Swedish team-mate Tom Kristensson throughout Sunday. It was a less comfortable finish for Kristensson. Rally Team Spain driver Efrén Llarena had struggled through Leg One with an underpowered car, but his PEUGEOT 208 R2 came to life on Sunday at full power, allowing him to close in from third place. Winning three afternoon stages, Llarena closed his 19.8s deficit from Kristensson to only 7.8s but ran out of kilometres to catch and pass him for second place. Italian driver Mattia Vita scored a career-best fourth place on his home ERC round, bringing his 208 R2 to the finish in Ostia in one piece for vital ERC Junior U27 points. Catie Munnings and Anne Katharina Stein demonstrated that perseverance pays by securing their equal-best finish in ERC Junior U27 with fifth place. Their rally had started off in difficult circumstances, their pacenotes stolen and requiring a full rewrite from scratch on Friday night that caused Stein a migraine on Saturday. Taking medicine to ease the pain, Stein and Munnings pressed on and were rewarded for their effort, with an ERC Ladies’ Trophy victory along with their ERC Junior U27 top five finish. Dominik Brož had retired his ACCR Czech Team-prepared 208 R2 on Saturday morning after running wide and becoming beached on a bank, returning on Sunday to secure sixth place. Munnings’ Saintéloc Junior team-mate Miika Hokkanen had been locked in a close battle for fourth place with Vita but retired at midday service. His car had been down on power throughout Saturday morning, necessitating a wiring loom swap. As one of the most complicated part changes possible it was always going to be tough to execute during a 30-minute service and, unable to repair the car and leave within one hour of arrival at service, Hokkanen was forced to retire. Like Brož, Sebastian Johansson had also returned from retirement for Leg Two’s action but retired once again after stage 12. Sesks was told to push by his ADAC Opel team to secure ERC3 honours in the latter stages of Leg Two, though his battle with Florian Bernardi was resolved when the Frenchman crashed his Renault Clio R3T on the penultimate run. Bernardi had more than halved his disadvantage to Sesks after a stellar recovery drive but damaged his car’s front end while pushing to try and take what would have been a stunning last-gasp win. Sindre Furuseth and Simon Wagner were unable to restart following their Saturday DNFs, both having impressed in ERC Junior U27 in the early stages.

ERC2: Érdi Jr conquers Rome for second consecutive year

Tibor Érdi Jr scored his third consecutive win in the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC2 category in 2018 and his second in as many years on Rally di Roma Capitale. Starting with a comfortable advantage on Sunday morning after chief rival Juan Carlos Alonso had retired during Leg One, Érdi scored maximum points aboard his Mistubishi Lancer Evolution X by winning both individual legs of the production class as well as ERC2 as a whole. ERC2 debutant Csaba Juhász turned his TV-inspired dream into reality, scoring second place in his Lancer after being inspired to participate this weekend by watching ERC on Eurosport for many years in the past. With no punctures or technical problems afflicting his rally, Juhász was free to push on at his own comfortable pace, wrapping up a debut podium 6m46.7s behind Érdi. Sergei Remennik had a tumultuous weekend involving a mid-week car swap, overshooting a corner and crashing down a bank and puncture on Saturday plus an overheating engine. Despite all his issues Remennik persevered, finishing third and picking up a podium to make his team’s 5000-kilometre, 30-hour round trip to Latvia and back to collect a spare car worthwhile. Alonso did not restart after his Saturday exit.

Munnings wins ERC Ladies’ Trophy on Rally di Roma Capitale

Former ERC Ladies’ Trophy winner Catie Munnings top scored in the category for the second time this season on Rally di Roma Capitale, beating title rival Emma Falcón. Saintéloc Junior Team driver Munnings’ success came against a backdrop of her most difficult rally to date. Her co-driver Anne Katharina Stein’s pacenotes had been stolen on Friday, forcing a full re-write that evening from scratch using onboard videos. Despite a migraine for Stein on Saturday afternoon from working overtime on new pace notes, she pressed on through the pain barrier to read notes for Munnings, allowing the pair to score a top five finish in ERC Junior Under 27 in addition to their ERC Ladies’ Trophy win. Her only real scare during Leg Two was her car suffering a power problem near identical to that of team-mate Miika Hokkanen, which had led the Finn to retire at midday service as it could not be remedied in time. Falcón had retired on Saturday, an impact with the ground breaking a gearbox mounting and intercooler pipe. Returning on Sunday she fared better aside from a handbrake issue, already plotting a return to Rally di Roma Capitale next year when arriving at the finish line in Ostia.

PROVISIONAL TOP POSITIONS (after 15 stages, 205.41 kilometres)
http://www.rallye-info.com/event_results.asp?event=728

FIA ERC2: Tibor Érdi Jr (HUN)/György Papp (HUN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
FIA ERC3: Mārtiņš Sesks (LVA)/Renārs Francis (LVA) Opel ADAM R2
FIA ERC Junior Under 28: Fabian Kreim (DEU)/Frank Christian (DEU) ŠKODA Fabia R5
FIA ERC Junior Under 27: Mārtiņš Sesks (LVA)/Renārs Francis (LVA) Opel ADAM R2
ERC Ladies’ Trophy: Catie Munnings (GBR) PEUGEOT 208 R2

WHAT’S NEXT?

Barum Czech Rally Zlín, 24-26 August: Ever-present in the ERC since the championship’s streamlining in 2004, Barum Czech Rally Zlín is based in the South Moravian university city, 300 kilometres south of the Czech capital Prague. It is a Tarmac test like no other due to the bumpy and sometimes broken nature of the road surface. To add to the challenge, several stages feature high-speed blasts through forests and intermittent showers are always possible. While the weather might be hard to predict, huge numbers of fans follow the action, especially on the opening night-time Zlín superspecial stage. The rally has a long-term contract with the ERC.