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ERC Cyprus Rally Day Report: Kajto conquers opening fast mixed-surface ERC Cyprus stages

Kajetan ‘Kajto’ Kajetanowicz has taken control of the CNP ASFALISTIKI Cyprus Rally, after a superb opening day in which the FIA European Rally Championship leader has set all-but one fastest stage time to lead overnight by 2m17.8s.

Over the fast, relatively smooth and demanding mix of gravel and Tarmac sections, Kajto and co-driver Jarek Baran have reigned supreme in their LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5 today, using both their skill and their Pirelli XR tyres to good effect. The extra physical training Kajto has done in the build up to the event has also helped, as temperatures in Cyprus hit 30°C, whilst two moments illustrated how hard the Polish driver had pushed to establish such an impressive lead.

“It has been a fantastic day for us,” said Kajetanowicz. “The stages are amazing here, and we have had a good lap in the morning and in the afternoon, with only two mistakes. Feeling is very important here, because you have to read the roads well, because they are changing all the time. Tomorrow’s stages are much faster, so I might have to change my plans and not attack as much.”

Bruno Magalhães is delighted to be second tonight, after a somewhat nervous morning in which he had to make sure he didn’t spin and stall the engine in his Peugeot 208 T16, because without a working starter motor something so simple could have stranded him mid-stage. The midday service not only cured that issue, but with softer suspension set-up the Portuguese ace was able to push in the afternoon, and whilst the high temperatures cause some pop-off valve issues, Magalhães held second place with a 50s cushion.

Jaromír Tarabus is third, despite an unusual problem in his ŠKODA Fabia S2000 when the spare wheel moved and stopped the fan for the rear differential radiator turning, causing a transmission warning light to come on. The problem was quickly fixed and despite losing time when he overshot a hairpin on SS1, the Czech driver was enjoying the fast and smooth conditions.

Robert Consani overcame numerous problems to hold fourth. The Frenchman lacked confidence with the set-up of his Citroën DS3 R5 initially, spinning the Delta Rally-run car twice on the opening loop of stages and also losing the rear brakes. Together with new co-driver Lara Vanneste, Consani completed the afternoon loop, despite high engine and turbo temperature readings and a reduction in power.

Antonín Tlusťák is seventh in his ŠKODA Fabia S2000, just behind the leading ERC2 drivers, Christos Demosthenous and Dávid Botka.

Alexey Lukyanuk had been second fastest over yesterday’s Qualifying Stage, but in contrast to his ERC rivals he had elected to start leg one 15th on the road – and the gambled looked to have worked when he set fastest time on the opening stage. However, his Russian Performance Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5 had lost its power steering 2kms before the end of the opening test. Despite the H-Racing team changing the steering rack in midday service, the problem appears to be electrical rather than mechanical, and Lukyanuk had to complete almost all of day one’s stages, approximately 95kms, with no power steering at all. Such is the incredible physical effort that co-driver Alexey Arnautov drove on the road sections to give Lukyanuk a rest, but alas it cost him five minutes during the day, dropping him from first place after SS1 to an arm-arching eighth overall after SS8.

Estonia’s Raul Jeets completed the top 10 in his MM-Motorsport Fiesta R5, ending the day just behind the ERC2 car of Peter Ranga. Jeets is enjoying his first visit to Cyprus, although it has been far from trouble-free, with a puncture and broken rear roll bar on SS1 and the throttle sticking open for 2kms on SS2.

Demosthenous leads ERC2 after Botka hits gearbox problems
Christos Demosthenous didn’t think it would be possible to match his sixth place overall finish he achieved on last year’s Cyprus Rally, but after the opening leg of this year’s event he leads ERC2 and is fifth overall. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX driver took the lead on SS4 – his third fastest overall stage time helped by the fact that his home is located on that road too! By the end of the first day, Demosthenous had increased his advantage to 24.9s, thanks to a very good performance and rival Dávid Botka picking up a gearbox problem. The Hungarian led ERC2 after SS3, and was just 2.4s behind Demosthenous when he lost third and fourth gears on SS6 in his Mitsubishi. Peter Ranga survived a big moment on SS2 to complete the opening day in third position in his Topp-Cars Rallye Team Mitsubishi, while ERC2 points leader Vojtěch Štajf was happy to have reached the finish of day one, on the Subaru Czech National Team Impreza WRX STI driver’s only second ever gravel rally. Stavros Antoniou completed the day’s ERC2 finishers in fifth. Panikos Polykarpou, the 24-year old Cypriot FIA Young Drivers Excellence Academy member, started first on the road, but crashed his Mitsubishi on the opening stage. Dominykas Butvilas led ERC2 after SS2, but crashed his Subaru Poland Rally Team Impreza WRX STI on SS3. The same stage also saw Tibor Érdi leave the road in his Mitsubishi.

Ex-ice racer “Dimi” on course for sunny ERC3 win
This year’s CNP ASFALISTIKI Cyprus Rally is the fastest and smoothest ever held, and “Dimi” is taking full advantage of this in his 1.6-litre Suzuki Swift Sport. The 42-year old Moscow-born driver is only in his second season of rallying, having done ice racing and circuit racing before, and together with co-driver “Zoli” is thoroughly enjoying himself. “This is the second time I’ve done the Cyprus Rally – last year we won the RC4 class and was fourth 2WD ERC car,” said Dimi. “We broke the recce car and couldn’t recce the Klavida stage, so we are using last year’s pace notes. That’s interesting, because whilst the stage is the same, the conditions are different, so we have to be a little careful. The Suzuki is a good car to drive. It’s not so fast uphill, but we can have a lot of fun going downhill!” Sławomir Ogryzek did the recce, but elected not to take the start in his Peugeot 208 R2 – although the Polish driver was out spectating!

WHAT’S NEXT?
Leg two on Sunday (27 September) starts at 08h27 and contains eight stages totalling 95.52kms. Four separate stages – Yeri (13.14kms), Ayia Marina (11.41kms), Kellia  (10.04kms) and Tseri (13.17kms) – are run twice, and are faster than the stages on leg one. The majority of them are also gravel, with Tseri the only all-gravel stage of the event. The finish will be on the Phoinikoudes Promenade in Larnaca at 18h30.

MEDIA EVENTS AND INFORMATION (all timings local for Sunday 27 September)
Podium ceremony and prize-giving:
18h30, Phoinikoudes Promenade, Larnaca
Post-event press conference: 19h30, Finish ramp, Phoinikoudes Promenade, Larnaca
Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy presentation: Immediately following the post-event press conference
Headquarters: Filoxenia Conference Centre, 17 Thrakis Street, CY-1311 Nicosia
Service park: Lieutenant-General Evangelos Florakis Street, Nicosia
Media centre: Filoxenia Conference Centre, Nicosia
Opening times: 08h00-23h00
Event media contact: Petros Soutzis, press.cyprusrally@gmail.com, +357 99643743
Television coverage: A preview show, daily highlights and the post-event Inside ERC magazine programme will be broadcast on Eurosport
ERC Rally Radio: Live throughout the event at Fiaerc.com or through the ERC app
Results, standings, live timing and text commentary: Fiaerc.com
Rights-free images: Register at the media lounge section of Fiaerc.com

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Photos

Cyprus Rally day one_Alexey Lukyanuk.jpg
Cyprus Rally day one_Alexey Lukyanuk

Cyprus Rally day one_Kajetan Kajetanowicz.jpg
Cyprus Rally day one_Kajetan Kajetanowicz

Cyprus Rally day one_Bruno Magalhães .jpg
Cyprus Rally day one_Bruno Magalhães

Cyprus Rally day one_Jaromír Tarabus .jpg
Cyprus Rally day one_Jaromír Tarabus

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Press contacts

Press enquiries: 
Paul Evans
+44 7710743167, media.fiaerc.com

Rights-free images: 
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Television:
Antonios Argyropoulos
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Drivers and teams: 
​Jean-Baptiste Ley
jbley@eurosport.com