ERC Acropolis Rally Day Report: Kajetanowicz becomes 2015 FIA European Rally Champion after winning weather-shortened Acropolis Rally
2015 FIA European Rally Championship, round nine of 10 SEAJETS Acropolis Rally 2015 Leg two, Sunday 11 October

Kajetan Kajetanowicz is the 2015 FIA European Rally Champion, after winning the SEAJETS Acropolis Rally in his LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5.

Extreme weather conditions, including a big thunderstorm and torrential rain in the Loutraki region, caused the event’s final three stages, totalling 57.26 kilometres, to be cancelled. With 69% of the event completed, full ERC points were awarded, meaning that Kajetanowicz scores this third ERC victory of the season to clinch the title for the first time. He also wins the ERC Gravel Master title.

Co-driven by Jarek Baran, Kajetanowicz is the third Polish driver to win the ERC title, following in the footsteps of Sobiesław Zasada (1966, ‘67, ‘71) and Krzysztof Hołowczyc (1997).

“Yes, we did it, it’s been an amazing day,” said an overjoyed Kajetanowicz. “It was a dream but now it’s come true. What can I say? Thanks to my team like always. To be honest it was a really hard year for us but we did it, we’re European champions. It’s amazing.

“It’s a big, big, really big day, probably the best day in my life. I don’t know – how can I say it? We did it with winning Acropolis Rally. It’s also a big thing, one of the most difficult rallies in the world, not only in European championship.

I want to say thank you to my parents, mum and dad. They believe in me every time, everywhere. I have no time for them but I want to change it because they are very important for me. They are always with me, and they are always in my heart.”

Craig Breen started the day in third place, 14.7 seconds behind leader Lambros Athanassoulas (ŠKODA Fabia R5). In the incredibly muddy and foggy conditions, the Irishman drove brilliantly to set fastest time on SS4 (by 20.3s) and SS5 (by 16.4s) to lead by 33.7s. Unfortunately, the bonnet of his Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16 flew opening on SS6 and blocked his view, costing him so much time that he dropped to second place, 10s behind Kajetanowicz. When the weather deteriorated and the remaining three stages were cancelled, unclipped bonnet pins would go down in history as costing him a repeat Acropolis Rally win. Breen’s efforts did not go unrewarded, as he received the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy.

Had Breen won the Acropolis Rally and Kajetanowicz finished second, the Polish driver would have still secured the ERC title, however.

Athanassoulas achieved his target of scoring an ERC podium finish. On his first gravel rally for four years, and first time out in a Fabia R5, the local driver did exceptionally well to challenge for stage wins with the regular ERC drivers in the daylight, and delighted the fans with his third place finish. Just 15.3s separated the top three cars at the finish.

Jaromír Tarabus came home fourth, despite hitting a bank at the flying finish of SS5 in his ŠKODA Fabia S2000 and feeling a little disappointed to be almost three minutes off the podium. ERC2 winner Dávid Botka (Mitsubishi) finished fifth, while Raul Jeets was sixth in his MM-Motorsport Fiesta R5. The Estonian survived a few moments and had to reverse after an overshoot on SS6, but was gaining in experience all the time and was aiming to push hard and claim fifth place on the final loop of stages. Dominykas Butvilas (Subaru) was seventh, while Antonín Tlusťák was pleased to complete such a difficult event, bringing his Fabia S2000 home in eighth.

Alexey Lukyanuk was fourth going into SS4, but mistook a tight hairpin for a fast fourth-gear corner, hit a wall and broke the front right suspension on his H-Racing Ford Fiesta R5. The Russian Performance Motorsport-backed driver lost 16 minutes in the stage, and with two more stages to do before service, he retired on the following road section.

Botka wins ERC2 in Greece and takes series lead
Dávid Botka finished a fantastic fifth overall on the SEAJETS Acropolis Rally, winning ERC2 on the event by 46.1s. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX driver now leads the category by 18-points, meaning that the title will be decided on the final round. The Hungarian driver’s rival, Czech ace Vojtěch Štajf (Subaru Czech National Team), missed the Acropolis Rally, as he was contesting the La Carrera Panamericana in Mexico. Dominykas Butvilas was flying on the opening stages today, reducing Botka’s 1m15.7s overnight lead to 28.1s after SS5. Unfortunately, he’d picked up front suspension damaged which slowed his Subaru Poland Rally Team Impreza WRX STI in SS6, and the cancellation of the final three stages prevented the Lithuanian driver from resuming his attack after repairs were made. Lambros Kirkos returned under Rally2 rules and ran first on the road today. The Team Greece Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX driver’s efforts were reward with him winning the Greek rally championship title for a fourth time.

TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 6 stages, 126.23 kilometres)
1. Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL)/Jarek Baran (POL) Ford Fiesta R5….1h32m11.1s
2. Craig Breen (IRL)/Scott Martin (GBR) Peugeot 208 T16….+10.0s
3. Lambros Athanassoulas (GRE)/Nikolaos Zakcheos (GRE) ŠKODA Fabia R5….+15.3s
4. Jaromír Tarabus (CZE)/Daniel Trunkát (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia S2000….+3m12.5s
5. Dávid Botka (HUN)/Péter Mihalik (HUN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX….+3m54.5s
6. Raul Jeets (EST)/Andrus Toom (EST) Ford Fiesta R5….+4m30.9s
7. Dominykas Butvilas (LIT)/Kamil Heller (POL) Subaru Impreza WRX STI….+4m40.6s
8. Antonín Tlusťák (CZE)/Ladislav Kučera (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia S2000….+8m48.2s
9. Petros Panteli (CYP)/Constantinos Constantinou (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X….+11m44.0s
10. Jourdan Serderides (BEL)/Frederic Miclotte (BEL) Citroën DS3 R5….+11m45.8s

FIA ERC2: Dávid Botka (HUN)/Péter Szeles (HUN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy: Craig Breen (IRL)

RALLY LEADERS
SS1:
Kajetan Kajetanowicz
SS2: Lambros Athanassoulas
SS3: Kajetan Kajetanowicz
SS4-6: Craig Breen

STAGE WINNERS
Day one (Saturday 10 October, 67.52 kilometres):
SS1:
SEAJETS Kineta-Loutraki (43.19kms): Kajetanowicz/Botka
SS2: EKO Racing Kineta (24.33kms): Athanassoulas/Butvilas

Day two (Sunday 11 October, 135.11 kilometres):
SS3:
SEAJETS Athikia 1 (17.93kms): Kajetanowicz/Butvilas
SS4: Klenia Mycenae 1 (20.81kms): Breen/Butvilas
SS5: Kefalari 1 (18.66kms): Breen/Butvilas
SS6: EKO Racing Ziria (20.31kms): Kajetanowicz/Botka
SS7: Athikia 2 (17.93kms): Cancelled
SS8: Klenia Mycenae 2 (20.81kms): Cancelled
SS9: Kefalari 2 (18.66kms): Cancelled

KEY STATISTICS
ERC wins in 2015:
Breen 3, Kajetanowicz 3, Loix 1, Lukyanuk 1, Kopecký 1.
ERC stage wins in 2015: Kajetanowicz 45, Breen 29, Lukyanuk 21, Kopecký 9, Loix 5, Lefebvre 4, Bouffier 4, Barrable 4, Kangur 3, Abbring 3, Pech 2, J Moffett 1, Kruuda 1, Jeets 1, Moura 1, Athanassoulas 1.

CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS
Go to Fiaerc.com for the championship positions following round nine of 10.

WATCH INSIDE ERC ON EUROSPORT – CHECK OUT THE WATCH IT ON TV SECTION OF FIAERC.COM FOR LOCAL BROADCAST DETAILS

WHAT’S NEXT?
Rallye International du Valais (Switzerland), 30 October – 01 November 2015:
Taking place in the mountains of southwest Switzerland close to Lake Geneva on mainly asphalt roads, the event enjoys a rich history in the ERC. More information: Riv.ch Media contact: André Marzoli, media@riv.ch

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