FIA European Rally Championship 2017: Round 7 of 8
Rally di Roma Capitale: Leg two report, 17 September
*Rally di Roma Capitale victory battle decided on thrilling final stage
*Double joy for ACCR Czech Team with ERC Junior U28 and ERC Junior U27 wins
*Molinaro takes ERC Ladies’ Trophy, Érdi Jr keeps ERC2 victory bid on track
*Coveted FIA championship titles to be settled on Latvian season closer
Bryan Bouffier defeated Kajetan Kajetanowicz by 0.3s in a thrilling final-stage shootout for FIA European Rally Championship glory in Italy today. Bouffier started the closing 11.75-kilometre test on Rally di Roma Capitale trailing the double European champion by 0.5s, but went quicker by 0.8s to win the closest finish in recent ERC history, as the lead changed hands a staggering nine times in 12 stages.
Jan Černý won ERC Junior Under 28 for the first time with fellow ACCR Czech Team driver Filip Mareš claiming his maiden ERC Junior Under 27 victory. Tibor Érdi Jr secured the ERC2 laurels to close to within four points of the championship lead heading to the final round in Latvia next month. Elsewhere, Tamara Molinaro wrapped up the ERC Ladies’ Trophy title as Emma Falcón lost out on an event win when she retired with engine problems one stage from home.
Leg two recap: High drama as Bouffier triumphs
Kajetanowicz had cancelled out a seven-second overnight deficit to Bouffier when he outpaced his French rival by 9.1s on this morning’s opening test, the rally’s longest at 32.70 kilometres, to take the lead by 2.1s – despite reporting brake issues on his Ford Fiesta R5 midway through the run.
Bouffier, meanwhile, feared his decision to run on soft-compound tyres was incorrect for what was a largely drying stage albeit with some wet and muddy sections. And with Kajetanowicz able to rectify his brake issue prior to SS8, the Pole extended his advantage over Bouffier to 3.1s with another stage victory. Kajetanowicz was fastest again on SS9, albeit by a mere 0.2s ahead of Bouffier, to reach the mid-leg halt in Fiuggi east of Rome leading by 3.3s. Bouffier then hit back on SS10 to take a 0.4s lead into the penultimate stage, which Kajetanowicz edged by 0.9s to retake the lead by 0.5s to set up a dramatic finale.
“For sure it’s amazing to win and especially in these conditions when you are fighting like hell,” said the Gemini Clinic Rally Team driver, who becomes the first two-time winner in this season’s ERC in the Ford Fiesta R5 he was sharing with co-driver Xavier Panseri. “We did our best and it’s amazing, it’s so great I start to fly a little bit. In all sport it’s nice to fight, it gives you adrenalin and this is what I enjoy. Big thanks to the team and to my sponsors for my two victories.”
Bouffier had lost out to Jan Kopecký by 0.5s in the previous closest ERC finish in Austria in 2013, making his triumph in Rome all the more satisfying. Meanwhile, Kajetanowicz, who remains on course to win his third European championship crown on Rally Liepāja next month, said: “It doesn’t matter if I won or was second. I am just really happy to be here for my first time fighting for victory. The car was almost perfect, it’s an amazing feeling and big congratulations to Bryan. That was a big battle so well done to him.”
Bruno Magalhães, who finished third in his SEAJETS ŠKODA, remains in title contention with one event and a maximum of 39 points remaining. The Portuguese is 24 points behind Kajetanowicz when dropped scores are applied, as he bids to break the Polish driver’s ERC dominance. Meanwhile, Grzegorz Grzyb finished his 250th rally in fourth with ERC returnee Simone Tempestini fifth. Černý took sixth, Łukasz Habaj seventh, Nikolay Gryazin eighth, Stéphane Consani ninth and Tonino Di Cosimo P10 for Motorsport Italia.
Alexey Lukyanuk, who had been leading prior to taking the front-left wheel off his Fiesta on Saturday’s final stage due to a headlight issue, was a non-starter today due to excessive damage.
ERC Junior Under 28: Černý in control for first win
Czech federation-backed Jan Černý took his maiden FIA ERC Junior Under 28 victory with Nikolay Gryazin beating newcomer Stéphane Consani into second place on the final morning. While Peugeot Rally Academy driver Pepe López retired from both legs with technical issues, team-mate José Suárez was inspired with a succession of fastest stage times when he restarted on Sunday after crashing out on Saturday’s opener.
ERC Junior Under 27: Mareš bags maiden glory
Filip Mareš won a closely-fought battle in FIA ERC Junior Under 27 with the ACCR Czech Team driver climbing from his overnight third place to first in his Pirelli-shod Peugeot 208 after demoting Opel drivers Jari Huttunen and Chris Ingram with a sublime run through Sunday’s opening stage to bag a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Mareš put his early pace down to his decision to use soft compound tyres on the damp opener. Huttunen chose hard tyres and lost time, while Ingram was lacking in confidence unable to commit to his pacenotes. Earning the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy, Mareš is one of four drivers firmly in contention for the title – and the 100,000 euros career progression fund on offer to the champion – heading to the finale in Latvia. Behind Ingram, Karel Kupec, Kristóf Klausz and an ill Tamara Molinaro completed the top six. Domink Brož retired with technical issues on stage seven where Catie Munnings lost several minutes stuck in a ditch. Munnings battled back to finish seventh with Molinaro securing the ERC Ladies’ Trophy spoils on home soil after Emma Falcón retired on the penultimate stage. Aleks Zawada arrived in Italy leading the standings but a flywheel failure on stage two forced his early exit. The Pole will work tirelessly to secure the funding needed to contest Rally Liepāja next month where he can still take the title.
ERC2: Mixed emotions for winner Érdi Jr
Tibor Érdi Jr overcame a central differential glitch to win ERC2 and close to within four points of the championship summit. Sergey Remennik was unable to restart after damaging his Mitsubishi Lancer beyond immediate repair when he crashed on stage two. Title leader Zelindo Melegari withdrew after his father passed away suddenly on Friday night. The thoughts of the ERC community remain with the Italian with Érdi Jr carrying a black ribbon on his Lancer as a mark of respect.
Andolfi Jr claims FIA RGT glory in Fiat 124 Abarth one-two-three
Fabrizio Andolfi Jr got the better of fellow Fiat 124 Abarth driver Andrea Nucita to win the FIA RGT category with Andrea Modanesi third after in another Fiat after overnight leader Romain Dumas was delayed on the final day stopping to change a puncture having occupied a top 10 spot in his Porsche 997.
From historic tour to seaside finish for ERC’s Italian return
Rally di Roma Capitale’s first appearance on the ERC schedule began in spectacular fashion and culminated in a dramatic final stage showdown. After bringing parts of central Rome to a standstill on Friday evening with a driving tour of the historic city under police escort, a floodlit superspecial stage in front of thousands of fans proved another highlight ahead of the ceremonial finish in Ostia, a popular seaside destination on the banks of the banks of the Tyrrhenian Sea and a short drive from Rome.
PROVISIONAL TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 12 stages, 202.48 kilometres)
1 Bryan Bouffier (FRA)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Ford Fiesta R5 2h02m16.0s
2 Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL)/Jarek Baran (POL) Ford Fiesta R5 +0.3s
3 Bruno Magalhães (PRT)/Hugo Magalhães (PRT) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +57.9s
4 Grzegorz Grzyb (POL)/Jakub Wrobel (POL) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +1m18.3s
5 Simone Tempestini (ROU)/Segiu Itu (ROU) Citroën DS3 R5 +1m55.4s
6 Jan Černý (CZE)/Petr Černohorský (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +2m10.4s
7 Łukasz Habaj (POL)/Daniel Dymurski (POL) Ford Fiesta R5 +2m25.5s
8 Nikolay Gryazin (RUS)/Yaroslav Fedorov (RUS) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +2m55.6s
9 Stéphane Consani (FRA)/Valentin Salmon (FRA) Citroën DS3 R5 +3m17.2s
10 Tonino Di Cosimo (ITA)/Paolo Francescucci (ITA) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +4m21.9s
FIA ERC2: Tibor Érdi (HUN)/György Papp (HUN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
FIA ERC3: Filip Mareš (CZE)/Jan Hloušek (CZE) Peugeot 208 R2
FIA ERC Junior Under 28: Jan Černý (CZE)/Petr Černohorský (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia R5
FIA ERC Junior Under 27: Filip Mareš (CZE)/Jan Hloušek (CZE) Peugeot 208 R2
ERC Ladies’ Trophy: Tamara Molinaro (ITA)
Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy: Filip Mareš (CZE)
SS1: Nikolay Gryazin
SS2: Alexey Lukyanuk
SS3: Bryan Bouffier
SS4-5: Alexey Lukyanuk
SS6: Bryan Bouffier
SS7-9: Kajetan Kajetanowicz
SS10: Bryan Bouffier
SS11: Kajetan Kajetanowicz
SS12: Bryan Bouffier
Day one (Friday 15 and Saturday 16 September, 96.32 kilometres):
SS1: ACI Roma Arena (1.80kms):
ERC Junior U28
ERC Junior U27
SS2: Colle San Magno Turriziani Petroli 1 (13.65kms):
SS3: Greci-Pico PICUS 1 (26.44kms)
SS4: Pico Ecopetrol (14.34kms)
SS5: Colle San Magno Turriziani Petroli 2 (13.65kms):
SS6: Greci-Pico PICUS 2 (26.44kms)
Day two (Sunday 17 September, 106.16 kilometres):
SS7: Cave-Rocca S.Stefano BIG CAPUT MUNDI 1 (32.70kms):
SS8: Monastero-Jenne S SPECO 1 (8.63kms)
SS9: Altipiani-Guarcino Gruppo l’Automobile 1 (11.75kms)
SS10: Cave-Rocca S.Stefano BIG CAPUT MUNDI 2 (32.70kms):
SS11: Monastero-Jenne S SPECO 2 (8.63kms)
SS12: Altipiani-Guarcino Gruppo l’Automobile 2 (11.75kms)
ERC rally wins in 2017: Bouffier 2; Al-Attiyah, Kajetanowicz, Kopecký, Lukyanuk and Magalhães 1
ERC stage wins in 2017: Lukyanuk 23; Kajetanowicz 20; Kopecký 12; Al-Attiyah and Bouffier 9; Gryazin 6; Magalhães 4; Suárez 2; Griebel, Kresta, Moura, Østberg and Polykarpou 1
Go to FIAERC.com for the provisional championship positions following round seven of eight.
WATCH THE ERC ON EUROSPORT AND EUROSPORT PLAYER. CHECK LISTINGS FOR DETAILS
Rally Liepāja, 6-8 October 2017: Rally Liepāja, which took place for the first time in 2013 when it ran up Latvia’s Baltic coast from Liepāja to Ventspils, was due to open the 2016 ERC schedule in early February. However, higher-than-normal temperatures damaged the surface of the stages, causing concerns for safety and also for the state of roads used by the public. The new autumn date effectively made for an all-new rally as crews adjusted to stages free of snow and ice. As well as hosting a street stage, Liepāja is home to the ceremonial start and finish at the impressive Great Amber concert hall. Media contact: Jānis Unbedahts, firstname.lastname@example.org, +371 26557801