FIA European Rally Championship 2017: Round 1 of 8
Azores Airlines Rallye: Leg two report, 1 April
*Young German Griebel proves he’s got talent with action-packed ERC Junior U28 victory
*Opel team-mates Huttunen and Ingram battle hard for ERC Junior U27 gold
*Magalhães triumphs but there’s heartache for many in the mid-Atlantic
*Six leaders and six stage winners underline competitive nature of ERC
*Opel Rallye Junior Team tops revamped European Rally Championship for Teams
Bruno Magalhães has become a three-time winner of the Azores Airlines Rallye following a dramatic start to the FIA European Rally Championship season and an exciting new era for ERC Junior.
To provide a clear path from national level to the world championship, ERC Junior has been split into two separate categories for 2017 based on driver age and car performance.
Brit Chris Ingram won the ERC Junior Under 27 category for drivers born on or after 1 January 1990 competing in R2 cars on Pirelli tyres after a thrilling battle with Opel team-mate Jari Huttunen, which ended in despair for the Finn when he retired 200 metres from the finish of the final stage. Germany’s Marijan Griebel, the ERC Junior champion from 2016, came out on top in ERC Junior Under 28 for young stars (born on or after 1 January 1989) in R5 cars. The eventual ERC Junior U27 champion receives a support fund of 100,000 euros for use in ERC Junior U28 in 2018 with the ERC Junior U28 winner earning a one-off drive in a World Rally Car on a European round of the world championship next season, therefore providing a clear path of progression.
Not only did Griebel take top ERC Junior U28 honours and one outright stage win, by finishing second overall the German underlined his huge potential on his second gravel event in an R5 car. “Finishing second in Cyprus on my debut in an R5 car last season was already really, really good but here with 28 R5 cars I never think before that we can reach second overall. It was nearly a perfect rally for me winning ERC Junior Under 28, and a lot of fun. I had a great car and thanks to Baumschlager Rallye & Racing and to my sponsors, this is amazing. For sure it was a nice battle with Nicolay [Gryazin] at the beginning of the day. When he retired it was getting difficult thinking what could happen, where could I reach but in the end everything worked out and I’m very happy.”
For Ingram, ERC Junior U27 success was the perfect start to the new season after he lost out on the ERC Junior crown on the final round in 2016. “Massive respect for Jari for how well he’s driven on his first time here,” said Ingram. “It’s my fourth time here and for him to be on our pace is very impressive and fair play. It was a comfortable drive until we had some problems towards the end but we won in the end.”
Based on the mid-Atlantic archipelago’s largest island of São Miguel, the 52nd running of the Azores Airlines Rallye was action-packed from start to finish with reigning ERC champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz, last season’s runner-up Alexey Lukyanuk and local hero Ricardo Moura all hitting trouble. Despite not rallying on gravel for 18 months and with scant experience of his ŠKODA Fabia R5, Magalhães steered clear of the drama and powered ahead of Moura on leg one before moving in front when Lukyanuk broke his steering striking a rock on Saturday’s second stage to add to the wins he scored in 2008 and 2010.
“I didn’t expect that, it is just amazing, just perfect and thanks to my sponsors who gave me this opportunity, to my family and everybody in the team,” said Magalhães, who is now trying to secure the funding to extend his ERC campaign.
Co-driver Hugo Magalhães also becomes a three-time Azores winner having navigated Bernardo Sousa to victory in 2014 and Diogo Gago to ERC Junior success last season. “It’s so special for me and I really didn’t expect to finish with first place in my pocket but we did a great job all weekend.”
Kajetanowicz restarted on leg two following his off on Friday’s opening stage and recovered to P27 overall, scoring six leg bonus points. Having announced his bid for an historic third-consecutive ERC title on the eve of the start in Ponta Delgada, the highlight for the LOTOS Rally Team Fiesta driver was the capture of ERC stage win number 100 when he set the pace on the Grupo Marques superspecial on Thursday.
“It wasn’t easy after yesterday but came back and thanks to my team for doing a great job and to my co-driver Jarek [Baran] who was the driver today because in the fog you can see nothing and you must turn when he says,” Kajetanowicz said. “Okay, there was one mistake, but it was an amazing rally and I am very happy to be here at the finish.”
Thick fog and slippery stage surfaces combined to make driving conditions treacherous for large chunks of the final leg with several drivers being caught out and going off or being delayed by car damage, failures or punctures. They included Murat Bostanci, Dávid Botka, Łukasz Habaj, Jarosław Kołtun, Ricardo Moura and Albert von Thurn und Taxis, who was making his ERC debut but stopped on the penultimate stage with a mechanical issue.
ERC JUNIOR UNDER 28: GRIEBEL PROVES HE’S GOT TALENT
Marijan Griebel claimed the inaugural ERC Junior Under 28 victory following three days of high drama. Overnight leader Nicolay Gryazin suffered a puncture and broke his ŠKODA’s powersteering on a kerb in the Tronqueira forest stage this morning. That handed Griebel, who was 2.8s behind starting the final day, out in front with Jan Černý and Josh Moffett next up. Although Moffett made the podium in second place, Černý crashed out on the penultimate stage, hitting a tree and rolling. His misfortune promoted Pepe López to third after the Peugeot Rally Academy driver overcame myriad mechanical issues on leg one. Gryazin finished fourth with Ralfs Sirmacis next up despite five punctures. Sirmacis had led the class after the opening loop of four stages on Thursday but his hopes of victory would soon be over when he punctured for the first time on Friday morning. Luís Rego’s run to sixth was beset by numerous set-up issues and a brake fault, while José Suárez was second in class when he went off on the second run through Sete Cidades on Friday before continuing. However, his rally would end when he damaged his Peugeot’s rear suspension on SS12. Although he attempted running repairs he would go no further. Tomasz Kasperczyk was sixth in class when he stopped on the re-run of the superspecial with a broken radiator.
ERC JUNIOR UNDER 27: LATE HEARTACHE FOR HUTTUNEN AS INGRAM WINS
Chris Ingram’s bid for ERC Junior victory looked to be over when his Opel ADAM started to lose power before a gearbox issue set in. Having led by 0.8s heading to the final loop of three stages, he was 6.0s behind team-mate Jari Huttunen starting the final run where Huttunen hit trouble, suffering a broken driveshaft approximately 200 metres from the finish. The Finn’s misfortune handed Ingram victory with Aleks Zawada taking second following a day-one off. Filip Mareš recovered from numerous delays to complete the podium on his third gravel rally. Tamara Molinaro won the ERC Ladies’ Trophy in fourth having restarted on leg two after she retired on stage 10 with broken steering and a driveshaft. Buǧra Banaz and Dominik Brož battled through to finish fifth and sixth respectively. Marcos González, Karel Kupec and Catie Munnings both failed to restart after crashing on Friday. Huttunen’s efforts were rewarded with the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy.
ERC2: PIMENTEL WINS AFTER LATE WOE FOR REMENNIK
Luis Pimentel, on his return to action after five years away, won the ERC2 category after long-term leader Sergey Remennik dropped out in the closing stages. With a turbo fault repaired overnight, Zelindo Melegari restarted on the final day to take second in class.
ERC TEAMS’ CHAMPIONSHIP: VICTORY FOR OPEL
Opel Rallye Junior Team drivers Chris Ingram and Tamara Molinaro combined to top score in the revamped FIA European Rally Championship for Teams. ACCR Czech Team, Castrol Ford Team Turkey, Peugeot Rally Academy and Sports Racing Technologies also scored well.
PROVISIONAL TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 16 stages, 210.20 kilometres)
1 Bruno Magalhães (PRT)/Hugo Magalhães (PRT) ŠKODA Fabia R5 2h37m04.3s
2 Marijan Griebel (DEU)/Stefan Kopczyk (DEU) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +1m34.4s
3 Josh Moffett (IRL)/James Fulton (IRL) Ford Fiesta R5 +4m50.9s
4 José María López (ESP)/Borja Rozada (ESP) Peugeot 208 T16 +6m05.9s
5 Nicolay Gryazin (RUS)/Yaroslav Fedorov (RUS) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +6m10.9s
6 Pedro Meireles (PRT)/Mário Castro (PRT) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +7m29.7s
7 Ralfs Simmins (LVA)/Artūrs Šimins (LVA) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +7m33.8s
8 João Barros (PRT)/Jorge Henriques (PRT) Ford Fiesta R5 +9m06.0s
9 Carlos Vieira (PRT)/Jorge Carvalho (PRT) Citroën DS3 R5 +9m18.7s
10 Luís Rego (PRT)/Nuno Silva (PRT) Ford Fiesta R5 +10m17.5s
FIA ERC2: Luis Pimentel (PRT)/Bruno Pimentel (PRT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
FIA ERC3: Chris Ingram (GBR)/Elliot Edmondson (GBR) Opel ADAM R2
FIA ERC Junior Under 28: Marijan Griebel (DEU)/Stefan Kopczyk (DEU) ŠKODA Fabia R5
FIA ERC Junior Under 27: Chris Ingram (GBR)/Elliot Edmondson (GBR) Opel ADAM R2
FIA European Rally Championship for Teams: Opel Rallye Junior Team
ERC Ladies’ Trophy: Tamara Molinaro (Opel ADAM R2)
SS1: Alexey Lukyanuk
SS2: Ricardo Moura
SS3: Alexey Lukyanuk
SS4: Kajetan Kajetanowicz
SS5-SS11: Alexey Lukyanuk
SS12-SS16: Bruno Magalhães
STAGE WINNERS (ERC1/ERC2/ERC3/ERCJU28/ERCJU27)
Day one (Thursday 30 March, 26.64 kilometres):
SS1: Lagoa Stage (2.14kms): Lukyanuk/Remennik/Huttunen/Gryazin/Huttunen
SS2: Soluções M (7.08kms): Moura/Remennik/Ingram/Griebel/Ingram
SS3: Vila Franca São Brás 1 (13.47kms): Lukyanuk/Remennik/Ingram/Sirmacis/Ingram
SS4: Grupo Marques SSS 1 (3.95kms): Kajetanowicz/Remennik/Huttunen/Sirmacis/Huttunen
Day two (Friday 31 March, 80.20 kilometres):
SS5: Pico da Pedra Golfe 1 (7.02kms): Lukyanuk/Remennik/Ingram/Griebel/Ingram
SS6: Feteiras Meo 1 (7.46kms): Lukyanuk/Pimentel/Huttunen/Gryazin/Huttunen
SS7: Sete Cidades 1 (25.62kms): Lukyanuk/Remennik/Huttunen/Griebel/Huttunen
SS8: Pico da Pedra Golfe 2 (7.02kms): Gryazin/Remennik/Huttunen/Gryazin/Huttunen
SS9: Feteiras Meo 2 (7.46kms): Magalhães/Remennik/Ingram/Sirmacis/Ingram
SS10: Sete Cidades 2 (25.62kms): Magalhães/Remennik/Ingram/Griebel/Ingram
Day three (Saturday 1 April, 103.36 kilometres):
SS11: Graminhais 1 (21.01kms): Lukyanuk/Pimentel/Ingram/Gryazin/Ingram
SS12: Tronqueira 1 (21.96kms): Griebel/Remennik/Ingram/Griebel/Ingram
SS13: Grupo Marques SSS 2 (3.95kms): Kajetanowicz/Remennik/Zawada/Sirmacis/Zawada
SS14: Vila Franca São Brás 2 (13.47kms): Kajetanowicz/Remennik/Huttunen/Griebel/Huttunen
SS15: Graminhais 2 (21.01kms): Kajetanowic/Pimentel/Huttunen/Gryazin/Huttunen
SS16: Tronqueira 2 (21.96kms): Magalhães/Pimentel/Ingram/López/Ingram
ERC wins in 2017: Magalhães 1
ERC stage wins in 2017: Lukyanuk 6; Kajetanowicz 4; Magalhães 3; Griebel 1; Gryazin 1; Moura 1
Go to FIAERC.com for the championship positions following round one of eight.
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Rally Islas Canarias, 4-6 May 2017: The ERC returned to Gran Canaria in 2016 following a two-year absence for a rally big on challenge and spectators. Because the stages climb and descend, drivers pay close attention to corner speed and lines to ensure optimal momentum is maintained, while precise car set-up and pacenote accuracy are vital. One of the notable features of the stages is the abrasive surface, constructed partly from volcanic lava. It means grip levels are high and will remain constant if it rains, although tyre wear can increase. However, with the opportunity to take ‘cuts’ through corners limited, the roads remain relatively debris-free.
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