DAY REPORT: 2016 FIA European Rally Championship, round 10 of 10
CNP ASFALISTIKI Cyprus Rally 2016
Leg two, Sunday 9 October
*Lukyanuk seals win with Love Cyprus Golden Stage success
*ERC Junior champion Griebel a superb second on his R5 debut
*Demosthenous and Bostanci victorious in ERC2 and ERC3
Alexey Lukyanuk produced a perfect conclusion to the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship, taking victory on the CNP ASFALISTIKI Cyprus Rally and also winning the Love Cyprus Golden Stage to earn a total of 32,000 euros in prize money.
Lukyanuk absolutely mastered the mixed-surface challenge of the Cyprus Rally in his Ford Fiesta R5 fitted with Pirelli tyres. The Russian driver led from the start, won 11 of the 13 stages and finished up 2m12.2s clear. It was his second win of the season, and his first since the opening round on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés in March after suffering a string of disappointments in the middle of the year. The result confirms Lukyanuk as the championship runner-up, after he had come into the final round with only a two-point advantage over Ralfs Sirmacis.
For his win, Lukyanuk receives 7,000 euros as part of the prize money awarded by Eurosport Events on every round of the ERC, and he earned a cool 25,000-euro bonus with the fastest time on the event-closing Love Cyprus Golden Stage, which had a total prize fund of 60,000 euros pledged by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation. The cancellation of the penultimate stage of the rally for safety reasons meant this became a single-stage dash-for-cash with a stunning finish line on the beach.
“It’s a huge relief for us to be here, it was a really tough rally for us,” said Lukyanuk, who was co-driven by Alexey Arnautov. “It’s a great end to the season, we had a lot of issues but now I’m a happy man.” Lukyanuk worked hard throughout the year raising the budget to compete, and said his prize money would go back to those that made his appearance in Cyprus possible.
Finishing a superb second place was Marijan Griebel, who was making his four-wheel-drive debut in a ŠKODA Fabia R5, a prize drive for winning this year’s ERC Junior Championship. With only 50 kilometres in the Pirelli-shod car beforehand, the German prospect impressed from the beginning with his speed, enjoying a close battle with fellow ERC Junior graduate Nikolay Gryazin over second before the Latvian teenager crashed out on stage six.
From there, Griebel made sure of second position, seeing off the threat of three-time 2016 round-winner Ralfs Sirmacis. The 22-year-old Latvian, also an ERC Junior graduate, was playing catch-up after an overly-cautious start in two challenging night stages that opened the rally on Friday, but won two stages on the following morning as he climbed up to third position in his MICHELIN-equipped ŠKODA. He was second quickest on the Love Cyprus Golden Stage despite a mistake, earning himself 15,000 euros. Griebel, who says the ERC would be the ideal place to continue his career next season, received 10,000 euros for third.
Dávid Botka became the driver with the most ERC starts in 2016 with his ninth appearance in Cyprus, and last year’s ERC2 champion concluded his first season at the top level with a second fourth place finish. As on many events this year, the Hungarian was dogged by reliability issues in his privately-run Citroën DS3 R5, including a loss of power on Saturday and smoke filling the cockpit on Sunday.
Cypriot Christos Demosthenous was the top local representative in fifth overall and took the ERC2 win in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. As well as his third-straight showroom class on his home event, it was a third top-six outright result. Two more local Mitsubishi drivers fought over sixth, with “Chips Junior” – attempting the rally in the driver’s seat for the first time – resisting a charge from Costas Zenonos.
Demosthenous dominates ERC2, “Chips Jr” holds onto second
Christos Demosthenous controlled ERC2 from start to finish on his home event in Cyprus, but a close fight for second came down to the final stage. After taking it easy on the final stage, Demosthenous finished 1m59.9s clear of the opposition as he wrapped up his third successive Cyprus win in the ERC’s showroom category. “Chips Junior” held second place from the start over Costas Zenonos, but in the second half of the rally he saw a margin that was once almost half-a-minute gradually reduced to just 4.9s before the final stage. Chips responded just in time, going 5.4s faster than his rival on the deciding test to finish second in ERC2, in his first start on the event as a driver, matching his result as a co-driver from two years ago. Panikos Polykarpou was forced to miss the second stage on Friday night because of a double puncture but displayed his speed after restarting the following morning, setting five fastest times in class and recovering from 43rd to 11th overall.
Bostanci wins in ERC3 podium lockout for Castrol Ford Team Türkiye
Murat Bostanci claimed his second ERC3 victory of the year as his Castrol Ford Team Türkiye locked out the podium after expanding from one entry to three for the final round. Finishing 3m49.8s clear, Bostanci was quickest in class on every single stage, although he came perilously close to losing that record on the Love Cyprus Golden Stage, when Bugra Banaz was only 1.5 seconds slower. Bostanci took home 7,000 euros however, while navigator Onur Vatansever celebrated the ERC3 co-drivers’ title and Castrol Ford Team Türkiye claimed the teams’ crown. Banaz earned 3,000 euros on the Golden Stage and finished second on his ERC3 debut. The team’s third driver Ümit Can Özdemir was closely matched with Banaz early on before losing five minutes with a puncture on SS8.
TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 14 stages, 214.38 kilometres)
1. Alexey Lukyanuk (RUS)/Alexey Arnautov (RUS) Ford Fiesta R5….2h06m44.9s
2. Marijan Griebel (DEU)/Pirmin Winklhofer (DEU) ŠKODA Fabia R5….+2m12.2s
3. Ralfs Sirmacis (LVA)/Arturs Šimins (LVA) ŠKODA Fabia R5….+2m56.0s
4. Dávid Botka (HUN)/Péter Szeles (HUN) Citroën DS3 R5….+6m20.2s
5. Christos Demosthenous (CYP)/Pambos Laos (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX….+7m13.7s
6. “Chips Junior” (CYP)/Antonis Chrysostomou (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX….+9m13.1s
7. Costas Zenonos (CYP)/Phanos Christofi (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX….+9m23.4s
8. Savvas Savva (CYP)/Andreas Papandreou (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX….+12m31.8s
9. Michalis Posedias (CYP)/”Erikson” (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X….+14m23.3s
10. Stavros Antoniou (CYP)/Demetris Pieri (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX….+15m25.6s
FIA ERC2: Christos Demosthenous (CYP)/Pambos Laos (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
FIA ERC3: Murat Bostanci (TUR)/Onur Vatansever (TUR) Ford Fiesta R2T
SS1-SS14: Alexey Lukyanuk
Day one (Friday 7 October, 32.84 kilometres):
SS1: DHL Stavrorouni 1 (11.35kms): Lukyanuk/Demosthenous/Bostanci
SS2: CYTANET Petrofani 1 (21.49kms): Lukyanuk/Demosthenous/Bostanci
Day two (Saturday 8 October, 114.12 kilometres):
SS3: PSALTIS ENEOS Tseri 1 (14.40kms): Sirmacis/Demosthenous/Bostanci
SS4: Kotsiatis (14.66kms): Lukyanuk/Polykarpou/Bostanci
SS5: DHL Lythrodontas 1 (22.00kms): Lukyanuk/Demosthenous/Bostanci
SS6: Lagia 1 (10.34kms): Sirmacis/Demosthenous/Bostanci
SS7: PSALTIS ENEOS Tseri 2 (14.40kms): Lukyanuk/Polykarpou/Bostanci
SS8: DHL Lythrodontas 2 (22.00kms): Lukyanuk/Demosthenous/Bostanci
SS9: Lagia 2 (10.34kms): Lukyanuk/Polykarpou/Bostanci
SS10: CNP ASFALISTIKI Superspecial (5.98kms): Lukyanuk/Polykarpou/Bostanci
Day three (Sunday 9 October, 67.42 kilometres):
SS11: DHL Stavrorouni 2 (11.35kms): Lukyanuk/Demosthenous/Bostanci
SS12: CYTANET Petrofani 2 (21.49kms): Lukyanuk/Zenonos/Bostanci
SS13: Love Cyprus Golden Stage 1 (20.08kms): Cancelled
SS14: Love Cyprus Golden Stage 2 (14.50kms): Lukyanuk/Polykarpou/Bostanci
ERC wins in 2016: Sirmacis 3, Lukyanuk 2, Breen 1, Moura 1, Loix 1, Kajetanowicz 1, Kopecký 1.
ERC stage wins in 2016: Lukyanuk 42, Kajetanowicz 29, Sirmacis 23, Kopecký 10, Bouffier 8, Lefebvre 8, Evans 6, Breen 4, Moura 3, Verschueren 2, Kobus 2, Østberg 1, Monzón 1, Fisher 1, Loix 1, Princen 1, Casier 1, Jeets 1.
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