FIA European Rally Championship 2017: Round 2 of 8
Rally Islas Canarias: Leg one report, 5 May
*Russian in front following day of drama in Gran Canaria
*Spaniard López leads ERC Junior U28 for Peugeot Rally Academy
*Ingram heads Opel one-two in ERC Junior U27
*Islander Fálcon holds the advantage in ERC Ladies’ Trophy
A sensational charge through today’s fourth stage has put Alexey Lukyanuk on course for a second straight victory on Rally Islas Canarias, round two of the all-action FIA European Rally Championship.
The Russian rocket, driving a Ford Fiesta R5, reached midday service in Las Palmas 2.5 seconds in front of title rival and double ERC champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz. But a blistering performance on the rerun of the 25.13-kilometre San Mateo stage, means Lukyanuk holds an overnight advantage of 25.7s having gone quickest on all six challenging asphalt stages.
ŠKODA driver Bruno Magalhães, the championship leader following his season-opening victory in the Azores last month, is second with Kajetanowicz 2.2s behind in third, the Pole reporting brake problems on his LOTOS Rally Team Fiesta on the decisive fourth stage.
“It’s been a good day,” said Lukyanuk, who could have been further in front but for 10-second penalty for a jumped start on stage two. “I’m trying to be smart and not push too hard. But Bruno is showing his speed and finding his rhythm and will be tough competitor. The pacenotes are very precise and it is pure joy driving this car on the Pirelli tyres.”
Kajetanowicz, who was beaten into second place by Lukyanuk on Rally Islas Canarias last year, said: “It’s big applause to him, that was an amazing time. We are driving well but not perfect. We’ve made some changes to the set-up but the step is not so big. I need to improve the set-up and my head.”
Magalhães added: “That was one of the best days of my career. I came here without one kilometre in this car on asphalt so to be fighting with Kajto is like a dream and something I didn’t expect. I have to thank my team and my sponsors for this.”
While Kajetanowicz is heading for a podium finish, his fellow Pole Tomasz Kasperczyk suffered a spectacular crash on today’s first stage, a retaining barrier preventing his descent down a hillside. The crash was captured by Eurosport’s helicopter-mounted camera and the dramatic footage can be viewed by clicking here. Fortunately, neither Kasperczyk nor Damian Syty were injured in the accident although it remains unclear whether their Tiger Energy Drink Rally Team Fiesta can be repaired for leg two.
Elsewhere, Spanish Hyundai driver Iván Ares is fourth with Peugeot Rally Academy’s Pepe López, from Spain, fourth and the top ERC Junior Under 28 contender on his Rally Islas Canarias debut. Spanish champion Cristian García is sixth, French champion Sylvain Michel seventh on his first start in the ERC. Home hero Luis Monzón is eighth, Bryan Bouffier, who has been hampered by brake issues for much of the day, is ninth followed by last year’s Polish title winner Grzegorz Grzyb. Albert von Thurn und Taxis, Murat Bostanci, Dávid Botka, Jarosław Kołtun and Antonín Tlusťák are all in the top 20 overnight.
ERC2: Érdi Jr flies on championship return
Tibor Érdi Jr holds a firm grip on the ERC2 battle. Armed with a new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, the Hungarian’s only cause for concern were fading brakes on SS1. Russian Sergey Remennik is second on his first rally on asphalt, while Gilbert Bannout, from Lebanon, has completed much of Friday’s action with only first, second and third gears operational. Luís Pimentel, who took the class win in the Azores, was slowed by broken transmission.
ERC Junior U28: López in front at home
Pepe López leads the ERC Junior Under 28 category for young stars in R5 cars. The Spanish Peugeot 208 T16 driver was fastest in class on the first two stages of the leg and was also on the day-closing Las Palmas spectator stage to hold a narrow margin of 9.3s over newcomer Sylvain Michel, fastest on stages four and five. José Suárez, López’s Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate, set the pace on stage three but a power issue has held him back for much of the day. He’s languishing sixth in class and more than five minutes off the lead. Nikolay Gryazin, who spun on stage five, was third starting SS6 but a mistake on cold tyres left his ŠKODA with considerable rear-end damage and dropped him to fifth behind Marijan Griebel and rookie Surhayen Pernía in a Hyundai Spain-backed i20 R5. Griebel, the category winner in the Azores, has spent much of the day building experience of his Fabia R5 on Tarmac having lacked the funds to test ahead of the rally. Tomasz Kasperczyk crashed out on SS1 following brake issues with Jan Černý leaving the road on SS4 and rolling into retirement.
ERC Junior U27: Ingram overcomes drama to lead
Chris Ingram’s bid for a second consecutive ERC Junior Under 27 win was hanging in the balance for around 20 minutes after his Opel ADAM R2 refused to start heading to the regroup in San Mateo earlier today. Ingram, who suggested the problem had been caused by an overheating issue, was 10 seconds inside the time limit when he eventually arrived. However, there were no such problems on the stages for the Briton, whose tally of three wins puts him in front by 23.3s. Jari Huttunen is next up in a second factory ADAM. Aleks Zawada ran as high as second in class only to stop on the day’s penultimate stage, leaving Karel Kupec to complete the overnight podium. Kupec scored his first ERC Junior Under 27 stage best on SS5 and is 15.9s in front of fellow Czech Filip Mareš with Canary Islander Marcos González fifth and Tamara Molinaro sixth. Despite her impressive pace, the Italian has been unable to match Emma Falcón in the battle for ERC Ladies’ Trophy honours. Buǧra Banaz is seventh with Dominik Brož reporting set-up issues in eighth. Catie Munnings completes the runners in ninth, while Sébastien Bedoret was fifth in class when he crashed his Peugeot on SS4. Roberto Blach and Timo van der Marel are third and fourth in ERC3.
Six stages make up Saturday’s final leg over a competitive distance of 109.42 kilometres. The action begins with the 25.30-kilometre Moya test from 10h28 local time. The cars are due to reach final service in Las Palmas at 17h47. Follow this link for live timing and results: https://www.fiaerc.com/live-timing/
WATCH DAY ONE HIGHLIGHTS ON EUROSPORT FROM 00h00 CET.