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European Rally Championship
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Sesks wins FIA ERC Junior Under 27 title aged 19*

Tue, 09/25/2018 - 06:00

Teenager Mārtiņš Sesks is the winner of the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship* in his first season of international competition.

A graduate of the ERC Junior Experience training programme, 19-year-old Sesks secured the Pirelli-supported title with a round to spare, next month’s Rally Liepāja.

As well as the kudos attached to winning one of junior rallying’s most important titles, it will make this home round of the European championship in Latvia from 12-14 October a celebratory run at the wheel of the Pirelli-equipped Opel ADAM R2 he shares with co-driver and compatriot Renārs Francis.

“It feels unbelievable,” said Sesks following his capture of the ERC Junior Under 27 crown* on PZM Rally Poland last weekend. “It was two crazy days. On the first day, we had the confidence and were driving as we needed. It was just a mistake [when we crashed]. On the second day we were pushing and we pushed into a tree. Standing there looking at the results and just waiting was even harder than driving!”

Sesks graduated to ERC Junior U27 on the back of success on rallies in his native Latvia and other Baltic States. After landing podiums on the first two rounds, including on his asphalt debut in Gran Canaria, he then took back-to-back asphalt wins in Italy and Czech Republic, which proved decisive in his title triumph.

“Starting this season, I thought Azores would be hard, then I thought Canarias would be hard, then Italy and then Czech Republic, which was actually the most extreme rally I have ever done,” Sesks said. “That was the weekend when I really understood how hard it is to drive at this [international] level.  But it has been a fantastic season and, in the end, it's a good feeling. I'm just happy.”

Sesks credits his success to his pre-event preparations and the Holzer Motorsport-run ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team. “We have a tight programme and way of working and our coach is pushing us to work hard. We have been working on our driving style and pacenotes a lot because everything needs to be perfect. Our hardest job is before the rally. The Opel team is fantastic and I’m very proud I am part of it. Everything works great and everybody is doing their job in the correct way. Without the team there is no result.”

He will now switch his focus to the ERC season finale in Latvia, which takes place in his home town of Liepāja. “We are the champions but next up is our home event so we have to keep the pace because it's good to be a champion but it's even better to win the home rally.”

ERC Junior has been helping young drivers in R2 cars on Pirelli tyres to learn, shine and climb since 2014 with graduates including Fabio Andolfi, Emil Bergkvist, Jan Černý, Marijan Griebel, Nikolay Gryazin, Jari Huttunen, Chris Ingram and Stéphane Lefebvre. Details of Sesks’ prize drive for winning ERC Junior U27, which is provided by championship promoter Eurosport Events, will be announced in due course.

The post Sesks wins FIA ERC Junior Under 27 title aged 19* appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Marczyk shines on ERC Junior U28 debut

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 18:00

Miko Marczyk used last weekend’s FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship counter in Poland to underline his status as a future star.

The 22-year-old was making his European debut in the category for young stars in R5 cars in a ŠKODA Polska Motorsport Fabia R5.

As well as finishing a fine fifth overall and fourth in ERC Junior U28, Marczyk won the concurrent Polish championship round and missed out on the national title by a single point, despite PZM Rally Poland being his second event on gravel at the end of what is his first full season of competition.

“It wasn’t easy, especially the last loop, to complete the last two stages without making a mistake and give my best during the [Polish championship power stage] and to make it to the end,” said Marczyk, who is co-driven by fellow Pole Szymon Gospodarczyk. “I’m mentally tired because you had to calculate everything and I’m not an experienced driver. Moreover, I’m a rather young person so I felt a bit overwhelmed.

“I’m happy that we won Rally Poland in the Polish championship, that’s absolutely massive. It’s an excellent day for us, my second rally on gravel and my first time in the ERC.”

The post Marczyk shines on ERC Junior U28 debut appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

All-square in ERC Ladies’ Trophy battle

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 12:00

The battle for the ERC Ladies’ Trophy will be decided on the final round of the FIA European Rally Championship in Latvia next month.

After seven events, Emma Falcón and Catie Munnings are equal on 275 points when dropped scores are taken into account.

Munnings, part of the Saintéloc Junior Team line-up and a competitor in the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship, has top-scorred on the last three events, including last weekend’s PZM Rally Poland, which Falcón was unable to contest.

“It’s an amazing rally, incredible, very, very fast and very technical stages,” said Munnings. “It’s easy to make a mistake and we’re just here for experience and learning so we weren’t pushing it all. We’re really happy to finish the rally. We played a lot with the set-up and we used it as one big test. We’ve been doing set-up changes between the stages, just small changes, and we’re still not 100 per cent happy with it but it’s part of learning and you can build on it during the next gravel rally. It’s probably the fastest rally I’ve done. You have to stay focused, you didn’t have the time to get scared.”

The post All-square in ERC Ladies’ Trophy battle appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Rivals past and present praise Lukyanuk following ERC title success*

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 06:00

Three-time ERC champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz has praised Alexey Lukyanuk after the Russian claimed his FIA European Rally Championship title* in Poland last weekend.

Kajetanowicz won his last title in 2017 and spoke highly of Lukyanuk due to the on-stage battles they had.

“Alexei doesn’t give up and is one of these drivers on whom I could always count on to have a fight,” said Kajetanwoicz. “When I won the titles, he was nearby and fought until the very end. His 2018 season is one of his best, maybe the best to date.”

Bruno Magalhães, who remains on course to finish runner-up to Lukyanuk, said: “If I cannot be the champion I am very happy Lukyanuk is the champion. He’s shown during the whole year he’s the fastest driver. He’s also a very nice person. All the time we have a good atmosphere between us. Even last year when, unfortunately, we crashed in the same tree in Latvia he was very sympathetic with me when I was in the hospital.”

*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA

The post Rivals past and present praise Lukyanuk following ERC title success* appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Polish ace Słobodzian nets first ERC2 win on home soil

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 19:50

Marcin Słobodzian netted his first victory in the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC2 category on PZM Rally Poland, guiding his Subaru Poland Rally Team-run Impreza STi to success.

Making his second ever ERC appearance, Słobodzian had a largely trouble-free run from start to finish, his production-spec Impreza running strongly to secure P12 overall alongside his ERC2 success.

“It was a fantastic weekend for us. It was the first time I took part in Rally Poland and I think that the pace we showed here was good. We won our class in FIA ERC, so there nothing that we could have done any better,” said a delighted Słobodzian.

His taste of success has left him wanting more, with further ERC appearances now on Słobodzian’s radar.

“We’re going to see [what’s next]. Maybe ERC next year but we have to wait [for a decision]. It’s still quite early but I’d say we’re 50-60% sure that we will do it next year.

“There’s also a question of car’s homologation that’s currently undergoing but if everything pans out well, there’s a pretty good chance that we’re going to see each other next year.”

The post Polish ace Słobodzian nets first ERC2 win on home soil appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC Junior U27: Kristensson scores maiden win, Sesks secures title

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 19:12

Tom Kristensson capped a perfect day for ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team in FIA ERC Junior Under 27, scoring his first ever win as team-mate Mārtiņš Sesks secured the championship title.*

Sesks had retired on Saturday after rolling his Opel ADAM R2 but returned for leg two, only to crash out again on the morning pass of Baranowo. Despite his no-score, he is now mathematically out of reach, ensuring a sensational ERC Junior U27 title on his first year in the category.

Meanwhile, Kristensson was busy fending off the advances of Efrén Llarena, who won every stage of leg two after SS10 and SS11 winner Sesks had retired.

Though Llarena gained 7.1s over the course of six stages, he had started the day too far adrift of Kristensson, finishing 13.1s in arrears to clinch second place.

A day of firsts was continued by Saintéloc Junior Team’s young Finn, Miika Hokkanen. Though unable to match Kristensson and Llarena’s pace, his measured drive ensured he finished third, his first ever ERC Junior U27 podium.

Mattia Vita is quickly becoming the most consistent driver in ERC Junior U27, clinching a third consecutive fourth place finish. His rally had not been without dramas, though, spinning on the second pass of Gołdap but continuing without damage.

ERC Ladies’ Trophy victor Catie Munnings sealed her third top-five finish this year in the second Saintéloc-prepared PEUGEOT 208 R2, matching her results from Azores Airlines Rallye and Rally di Roma Capitale earlier this season.

Dominik Brož had soldiered on following his Friday retirement with an electrical issue and his challenging weekend continued in a similar vein.

He checked out three minutes late from morning service due to a late damper switch – fitting a set of gravel dampers loaned to him by Llarena’s Rally Team Spain – and then crashed out entirely on the same stage as Sesks, damaging his radiator and forcing him to retire on the spot.

The post ERC Junior U27: Kristensson scores maiden win, Sesks secures title appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC Junior U28: Gryazin win sends title down to the wire

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 18:43

Nikolay Gryazin’s FIA ERC Junior Under 28 victory on PZM Rally Poland has set up a sensational grandstand finish for the championship’s final round, with rivals Chris Ingram and Fabian Kreim completing the podium.

Though he successfully fended off Jari Huttunen for overall victory, Gryazin had openly paid more attention to beating Ingram and Kreim to victory, safely navigating his Sports Racing Technologies-prepared ŠKODA Fabia R5 to the finish despite nursing worn tyres.

ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland driver Kreim had entered this weekend as championship leader but found himself on the back foot, edged out by fellow Fabia runner Ingram. Toksport WRT’s young charger steadily pulled away over the course of leg two’s six stages, scooping an overall podium as a bonus with his vital second place in ERC Junior U28.

Kreim settled for third, 17.3s behind Ingram and 43.8s clear of a fantastic debut ERC performance by Miko Marczyk. The ŠKODA Polska Motorsport driver had completed less than 200 kilometres of competitive stages on gravel before this event yet still scored fourth in ERC Junior Under 28, which earned him an overall top five finish.

Filip Mareš (ACCR Czech Team) had a slow start to leg two, falling behind Tomasz Kasperczyk (Tiger Energy Drink Rally Team) on SS10 but quickly regaining fifth on the following stage, slowly building his advantage to finish 16.9s ahead of sixth placed Kasperczyk.

PEUGEOT Rally Academy’s young charge Laurent Pellier returned under Rally2 rules this morning following his retirement on leg one, having terminally damaged his radiator when colliding with a hay bale. There were no such dramas on leg two, bringing his PEUGEOT 208 T16 home seventh.

Gryazin’s win has blown the ERC Under 28 title race wide open with only one championship round remaining. He now provisionally holds a slim seven point advantage over Ingram with 130 compared to the Brit’s 123, while Kreim is now on 122 points.

All three contenders – Gryazin, Ingram and Kreim – have now completed four rallies, meaning dropped scores will also come into effect for Kreim’s rivals on Rally Liepāja, should they improve on one of their other finishes from this year. Kreim's podium finish here means points from his fifth position on Azores Airlines Rallye will be dropped.

The post ERC Junior U28: Gryazin win sends title down to the wire appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Day report: Gryazin resists late Huttunen charge for second ERC win

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 18:11

Nikolay Gryazin secured his second career FIA European Rally Championship victory on PZM Rally Poland, fending off Jari Huttunen and strengthening his FIA ERC Junior Under 28 title challenge.

Gryazin and ERC Junior Under 27 graduate Huttunen were locked in an epic tussle throughout leg two, and with no championship aspirations to worry about, the young Finn went flat out to catch the rally leader.

Huttunen won all three afternoon stages, unleashing the shackles on his Hyundai i20. A 10s time penalty for late check-in to SS14 undid his progress but failed to dampen his determination, driving on the ragged edge and finishing with a rear left puncture, broken rear bumper and rear spoiler from his final push.

Though he won the rally-closing Baranowo test by 4.6s Huttunen fell short of victory, Gryazin securing victory by 8.3s, with Huttunen settling for second.

Young stars in R5 cars dominated the top positions overall, with Chris Ingram scoring his first overall ERC podium in third place. He escaped the clutches of ERC Junior U28 rival Fabian Kreim over the course of leg two for second in class, the Toksport WRT and ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland pilots separated by 17.3s at the finish. Though unable to challenge Ingram, Kreim still secured an ERC Junior U28 podium and fourth overall.

ERC Junior U28 debutant Miko Marczyk held off a late challenge from Polish championship rival Łukasz Habaj to score a sensational top five finish for ŠKODA Polska Motorsport.

The prodigious young talent has only two years’ rallying experience and had covered less than 200 competitive kilometres on gravel before this weekend, yet resisted pressure from both sixth placed Habaj and seventh placed Grzegorz Grzyb.

ACCR Czech Team’s Filip Mareš successfully pulled away from and then held fellow ERC Junior U28 competitor Tomasz Kasperczyk at bay for eighth overall and fifth in Junior U28. It was a strong result for Mareš, taking part in his first ever gravel rally in an R5-specification car.

Despite a trip through a garden on Saturday morning, road sweeping today as first on the road and even rolling his car over this afternoon, Norbert Herczig brought his MOL Racing Team Fabia home P10.

Leg two recap: Russian rockets clinch Polish silverware
As dawn broke over Mikołajki and Alexey Lukyanuk celebrated his new status as ERC champion* from the sidelines, ERC crews headed to Pozezdrze, where the Juniors were quickest to wake up and get to work. Tiger Energy Drink Rally Team Tomasz Kasperczyk used his home advantage to great effect straight out of the blocks, taking 4.2s out of Filip Mareš to reclaim fourth in ERC Junior U28 and eighth overall.

Admitting he’d been to cautious, Autoklob of Czech Republic-backed Mareš responded immediately on Gołdap, regaining his place from Kasperczyk, which he held until the finish. Out front, ERC Junior U28 and rally leader Gryazin had dropped nearly three seconds to Huttunen on the first stage, only to take it all back and then some more through Gołdap, making clear he wasn’t surrendering his lead without a fight.

Gołdap had offered a welcome reprieve from the narrow tracks featured heavily throughout PZM Rally Poland, its wide open roads a much more forgiving setting. Ingram took a mammoth 9.4s out of ERC Junior U28 rival Kreim despite plenty of sideways moments, though the roads didn’t help Ingram’s Toksport WRT team-mate Orhan Avcioğlu, who stalled twice at a junction.

The ERC field passed through Baranowo without much fuss, though Grzyb did run wide only two corners into the. Habaj capitalised, whittling down his deficit for sixth place down to only 0.2s, while Marczyk seized his opportunity to leave his more experienced countrymen behind and build a gap for fifth. Szymon Ruta was not so fortunate, retiring from P13 at midday service with a technical issue.

Attention switched back to the lead battle after service. Huttunen had won SS10, with Gryazin responding in the following two tests, though his resistance began to falter thereafter. With no allocation of fresh tyres remaining, Gryazin struggled to match Huttunen on Pozezdrze, dropping 4.1s and focussing his efforts on securing a vital maximum scored for his ERC Junior U28 title campaign instead.

Huttunen was pushing hard to put Gryazin under pressure, taking a tyre off his Hyundai’s rear-left rim on the very first corner of Pozezdrze. That first corner contact decided the rally in an unexpected manner.

Fixing the damage he’d picked up by the roadside and setting off to the next stage, Huttunen rocked up at Gołdap time control one minute late, incurring a 10 second penalty.

“Damn it!” exclaimed a frustrated Huttunen at Gołdap stage end, and for good reason – it had undone all the ERC Junior U27 graduate’s hard work, having gained 10.1s across SS13 and SS14.

As Gryazin focussed on bringing his Fabia home in one piece, Huttunen put everything on the line through Baranowo in a last ditch effort to take victory. Flying through the stage, Huttunen pushed his i20 to its limits, keeping his foot to the floor where others lifted or used their brakes. He arrived at the finish line with a car sporting rear bodywork damage and a rear left puncture, visible evidence of his monumental final push.

It was not enough though, Gryazin arriving moments later only 4.6s slower, wrapping up a successful weekend for the ERC’s Russian contingent with a new ERC champion* crowned and a star of the future scoring his first outright win of 2018.

*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA

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Breaking news: Sesks is ERC Junior U27 champion!*

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 17:55

Mārtiņš Sesks has mathematically secured a maiden FIA ERC Junior Under 27 title on PZM Rally Poland in his debut ERC campaign, his points haul enough to wrap up the championship ahead of his home event Rally Liepāja next month.

Sesks' ADAC Opel Rallye Junior team-mate Tom Kristensson wrapped up his first ERC Junior U27 victory ahead of Efrén Llarena, and though Sesks failed to finish and scored no points in Poland, neither are able to catch the Latvian ace before the season ends.

Making his debut on home territory two years ago, 2018 was Sesks' first full ERC campaign, scoring two wins this year on Rally di Roma Capitale and Barum Czech Rally Zlín.

*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA

The post Breaking news: Sesks is ERC Junior U27 champion!* appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Breaking news: ERC Junior Gryazin secures Poland victory

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 17:39

Nikolay Gryazin has secured his first FIA European Rally Championship win this season with victory on PZM Rally Poland, surviving a late charge from Hyundai development driver Jari Huttunen.

Running on worn tyres, ERC Junior Under 28 star Gryazin lost time throughout this afternoon but still managed to beat Huttunen, who threw caution to the win on the rally's final stage, Baranowo.

Huttunen brought his battle-scarred Hyundai i20 home with a rear puncture, broken bumper and spoiler in a last-ditch attempt to overhaul Gryazin for overall victory.

Despite winning Baranowo by 4.6s, it was not enough for Huttunen, Gryazin hanging on for victory by only 8.3s. Huttunen had incurred a 10 second penalty for checking in one minute late to SS14, which transpired to be pivotal in settling the lead battle.

Toksport WRT's Chris Ingram completes the overall podium and secured second in ERC Junior U28, holding off ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland driver Fabian Kreim. Fellow ŠKODA driver Miko Marczyk finished fifth, ensuring four of the top five positions were occupied by young stars in R5 cars.

The post Breaking news: ERC Junior Gryazin secures Poland victory appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Gryazin one stage from ERC victory, Huttunen halted by penalty

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 15:45

Nikolay Gryazin is one stage away from taking a second career FIA European Rally Championship victory on PZM Rally Poland, as chief rival Jari Huttunen’s progress was halted by a time penalty.

Having run out of tyre allocation, ERC Junior Under 28 frontrunner Gryazin was left with no option but to use worn tyres for leg two’s afternoon loop.

Grip compromised aboard Gryazin's Sports Racing Technologies ŠKODA Fabia R5, Hyundai development driver and ERC Junior Under 27 graduate Huttunen closed in, taking 10.1s out of Gryazin across both Pozezdrze and Gołdap.

Huttunen's gains were then wiped out by drama in the liaison section between those two stages. He damaged his right rear wheel on the first corner of Pozezdrze and, after repairing his car at stage end, arrived one minute late to time control at Gołdap.

With a 10s penalty added to his total time, Gryazin now has 12.9s in hand with only 15.6 kilometres of Baranowo remaining.

Though ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland’s Fabian Kreim recovered a handful of seconds to ERC Junior U28 rival Chris Ingram SS14, his quest for an overall podium and second in ERC Junior U28 looks difficult, 10.6s in arrears with one stage remaining.

Miko Marczyk (ŠKODA Polska Motorsport) ensured four Juniors remain in the top five, though his advantage to Łukasz Habaj (eSky Rally Team) behind is now only 8.8s. Habaj passed Grzegorz Grzyb for sixth on Pozezdrze, extending his advantage to 2.2s over his compatriot after Gołdap.

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Kristensson leads ERC Junior U27 as Sesks retires again

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 12:50

ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team experienced mixed fortunes in the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 category on PZM Rally Poland's Sunday morning loop, with Tom Kristensson leading but Mārtiņš Sesks crashing out for the second time in as many days.

Kristensson began leg two with 20 seconds in hand to Rally Team Spain rival Efrén Llarena but put all his focus on executing a mistake-free run, hoping his time loss to Llarena would be minimal.

Llarena tried to capitalise, pushing hard enough that he came inches from hitting a tree on Baranowo, though gained only 3.6s across this morning's three stages, remaining second.

Both were slower this morning than Sesks, the championship leader winning SS10 and SS11 to put himself in prime position to score maximum leg two points. He had already retired on Saturday after rolling his car over in the deep ruts which feature heavily on the gravel roads surrounding Mikołajki, but crashed again on his Rally2 return on Baranowo, so will leave Poland with no points.

Miika Hokkanen is a little over a minute behind Llarena in a safe third place aboard his Saintéloc Junior Team-prepared PEUGEOT 208 R2, with fellow Pirelli-shod 208 driver Mattia Vita in fourth.

Saintéloc's second junior driver Catie Munnings remains fifth, ensuring she stays on track to score maximum points for her ERC Ladies' Trophy campaign.

Dominik Brož's rotten luck continued yet again on leg two. Having retired on Friday's opening superspecial and returned under Rally2 rules on Saturday due to an electrical failure, he then ground to a halt on Baranowo with a broken radiator.

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Gryazin and Huttunen still neck-and-neck in ERC lead battle

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 12:31

Nikolay Gryazin and Jari Huttunen are still locked in a tight FIA European Rally Championship lead battle on PZM Rally Poland, with only 2 seconds separating the pair across Sunday morning’s three stages.

ERC Junior Under 27 graduate Jari Huttunen won Pozezdrze – the opening stage of leg two – by 2.7s to reduce his defecit from Gryazin to a single digit.

Sports Racing Technologies prodigy Gryazin responded thereafter, winning the remaining two stages of the morning loop to increase his lead from 11.0s to 13.0s across leg two’s morning loop.

His win on Baranowo came as a surprise to the ERC Junior Under 28 class leader, giving him confidence that he has pace to spare to fend off Huttunen’s challenge.

“For me, it's a big surprise. At the start I had really cold tyres as the stage was delayed. In one corner I was really wide. Afterwards, it was getting better but I really was not confident, very slow,” said Gryazin.

“We'll see what we can do in the next loop because tyres will be worn and it won't be easy. But I think we can manage and keep the position.”

Chris Ingram broke away from the clutches of ERC Junior U28 title rival Fabian Kreim, the Toksport WRT driver gaining 13.3s across the morning loop. He even gained time on Baranowo, despite having to open and close his door while driving to stop dust entering his ŠKODA Fabia R5.

ŠKODA Polska Motorsport’s Miko Marczyk strengthened the Junior stronghold on PZM Rally Poland, streaking away from his Polish rivals to strengthen his fifth position overall, along with fourth in ERC Junior U28.

Sixth place is now more hotly contested than ever, with Grzegorz Grzyb (Rufa Sport) and Łukasz Habaj (eSky Rally Team) separated by only 0.2s. After a slow start Filip Mareš (ACCR Czech Team) has regained fifth in ERC Junior U28 and eighth overall, repassing Tomasz Kasperczyk (Tiger Energy Drink Rally Team) on stage 11.

Completing the top 10 behind Kasperczyk in ninth, Norbert Herczig (MOL Racing Team) is nearly a minute clear of his nearest chaser, Orhan Avcioğlu.

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ERC Junior U27 Wróblewski feared rally-ending crash would “never end”

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 12:00

FIA ERC Junior Under 27 newcomer Kacper Wróblewski feared his event-ending crash on PZM Rally Poland would “never end”, having suffered a dramatic roll on leg one.

Making debut in the Pirelli-backed category with Rallytechnology, Wróblewski and co-driver Jacek Spentany were running an impressive fourth in class after four stages. However, a crash on the Tarmac section of Saturday morning’s pass of Mikołajki MAX ended their event one stage later.


“We were doing really well until it was too fast on a Tarmac section. I went into a corner and we run out of the road and we went off at a very high speed,” explained Wróblewski, the 2018 Polish 2WD champion.


“We were flat out, on fifth gear, doing 160kph. We rolled several times, all I could see was the sky and the ground all over again and I had the feeling that it will never end.”


Though Wróblewski was unharmed during the crash, his co-driver Spentany was less fortunate, injuring his back. “It was a massive hit. I feel good but my co-driver has damaged three cervical vertebrae," Wróblewski added.

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Johansson eyes ERC Junior U27 comeback after Poland DNF

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 11:23

FIA ERC Junior Under 27 contender Sebastian Johansson has vowed to put his retirement on PZM Rally Poland behind him and return to the championship stronger in future.

JR Motorsport rookie Johansson has embarked on his first international foray outside of Scandinavia in the ERC’s Pirelli-backed front-wheel-drive category this year, building experience against talented cohorts like championship leader Mārtiņš Sesks.

While fighting local rookie Kacper Wróblewski for fifth place, Johansson crashed his PEUGEOT 208 R2 on Stare Juchy, the fourth stage of the rally. Unable to restart, he is now focussed on making amends in future ERC events.

“We are okay but the car is less okay after the crash. It was not that big but big enough not to be able to restart on day two. It is a shame but we will be back,” he said.

It was a difficult stage for all Junior crews, with championship leader Sesks also rolling his car over in the same test. Fellow ERC Junior U27 runner Mattia Vita was next on the scene after Johansson’s crash.

“It was around the middle of stage on an asphalt section. It’s very easy to do a mistake there because there was no grip. I am glad he is okay,” Vita commented.

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Pieniążek rues lost potential home ERC podium

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 11:00

Łukasz Pieniążek was left to wonder what might have been after he lost a potential FIA European Rally Championship podium finish when he retired from PZM Rally Poland on Saturday morning.

The ERC Junior graduate has spent the last two seasons competing in the world championship but made his European return on home soil this weekend.

Starting strongly by moving to fourth on stage two, his rally was over soon after, crashing into a tree only 400 metres into the Świętajno stage.

“It’s a pity because we wanted to present ourselves well here. We knew that we have the pace that we’ve been building up for a while, kept picking it up and stage times kept improving. Podium was a possibility,” said Pieniążek.

Driving a ŠKODA Fabia R5 for the Finnish Printsport team, Pieniążek – a contender for ERC Junior Under 28 category honours – started on the back foot after an overheating engine left him P13 on the Qualifying Stage on Friday, compromising his road order position by starting early and needing to sweep loose gravel aside.

“That raised the pressure and I was concerned that I’m going to lose a lot of time during that first loop, cleaning the road,” he explained. “It was easy to make a mistake and on the second of Saturday’s stages, on a very slippery paving, the car just didn’t turn, we went out and straight into a tree. That was the end of the rally for us.

“Since the beginning we wanted to go flat out but these kind of tactics don’t always pay off.”

The post Pieniążek rues lost potential home ERC podium appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Herczig leads Poland ERC road order on final day

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 08:03

MOL Racing Team’s Norbert Herczig will lead the FIA European Rally Championship field to the finish line of PZM Rally Poland, running first on the road during leg two.

Leg one’s top 10 runners are reversed for Sunday’s stages, putting 10th placed Herczig out front to sweep loose gravel away.

ERC Junior Under 28 pairing Tomasz Kasperczyk (Tiger Energy Drink Rally Team) and Filip Mareš (ACCR Czech Rally Team) resume their battle over fifth in class by running second and third respectively.

Łukasz Habaj (eSky Rally Team) and Grzegorz Grzyb (Rufa Sport) will set about catching the mightily impressive ERC Junior U28 debutant Miko Marczyk (ŠKODA Polska Motorsport) for fifth, who had less than 200 kilometres of gravel experience before this weekend.

ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland’s Fabian Kreim and Toksport WRT driver Chris Ingram pick up their podium battle seventh and eighth in the road order, with rally-leading duo Nikolay Gryazin and Jari Huttunen P10 and ninth to kick off respectively.

Four drivers will not return after rally-ending crashes during leg one. Newly crowned champion* Alexey Lukyanuk damaged his car with a high-speed off into a tree on Saturday morning, as did Printsport’s ERC Junior U28 contender Łukasz Pieniążek.

ERC Junior U27 pairing Kacper Wróblewski (Rallytechnology) and Sebastian Johansson will not return either, both suffering accidents yesterday. However, ADAC Opel Rallye Junior star Mārtiņš Sesks is back, the championship leader’s decision to retire earlier and drive back to service validated by a fully-fixed Opel ADAM R2.

The post Herczig leads Poland ERC road order on final day appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

PZM Rally Poland showdown live on ERC Radio

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 06:00

The deciding leg of PZM Rally Poland will be live on ERC Radio today with coverage beginning at 07h45 local time.

Counting as the penultimate event of the FIA European Rally Championship season, the Mikołajki gravel spectacular has delivered action and drama aplenty with 11 seconds separating the top two – Nikolay Gryazin and Jari Huttunen – starting Sunday’s showdown.

Reporters Julian Porter and Chris Rawes will provide all the action and reaction from the stage stop lines with Sunday’s opening test due to get underway at 08h05.

 ERC Radio is available at FIAERC.com or via the ERC app.

The post PZM Rally Poland showdown live on ERC Radio appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

The party starts now: Lukyanuk, Arnautov FIA ERC champions for 2018*

Sat, 09/22/2018 - 23:00

Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov cannot be caught in the battle to win the 2018 FIA European Rally Championship and, subject to confirmation of the final results, will be crowned champions in due course.

The Russian Performance Motorsport pair have been on top form for much of the season in their Pirelli-shod, H-Racing-run Ford Fiesta R5 built by M-Sport.

Despite crashing out of PZM Rally Poland this morning, their three wins and one second place, coupled with the non-entry in Poland of title rivals Bruno and Hugo Magalhães due to budgetary constraints, means Lukyanuk and Arnautov are the first Russian ERC champions*.

“It feels a bit strange but I’m happy for the team and for the sponsors,” said Lukyanuk. “It's a really big step for us. We tried to be on the limit all the time but we don't have enough practice, enough testing and sometimes we lose control. Still, we have good pace, good feeling, good mood and it's a good end of the season.

“I'm sorry for Bruno’s [Magalhães] withdrawal so early but anyway the competition is very strong. It was a tough year for us but the party starts now.”

Of his accident this morning, Lukyanuk said: “I think I overworked a bit with the car and I put it sideways before the jump, I had to straighten a bit before but, unfortunately, the speed was okay but the line was not perfect so we hit a tree after landing. Not a good moment for us but that was really unpredictable.”

A full Q&A with Lukyanuk will be published soon, while ERC All Access on Eurosport on Tuesday will take a closer look behind the scenes of Lukyanuk’s winning weekend. Check local listings for more details.

Meanwhile, PZM Rally Poland continues tomorrow (Sunday). Nikolay Gryazin heads Jari Huttunen by 11 seconds with six stages remaining. The overnight top five have an average age of 23 to underline the importance of the ERC as a training ground for future talent.

*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA

The post The party starts now: Lukyanuk, Arnautov FIA ERC champions for 2018* appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC Junior U27: Lead pair fights for maiden victory

Sat, 09/22/2018 - 18:47

Tom Kristensson and Efrén Llarena are locked in a close battle for FIA ERC Junior Under 27 victory on PZM Rally Poland, offering a potential maiden win for both drivers.

Though Llarena led after Friday’s superspecial in the Mikołajki Arena, Kristensson’s ADAC Opel Rallye Junior team-mate and championship leader Mārtiņš Sesks moved straight into the lead on stage two.

That lead was a brief one, as Sesks dug his Opel ADAM R2 into a rut and rolled over, initially costing him 17 minutes before deciding to drive back to service and retire. His decision allowed Opel’s mechanics more time to fix his car, which is now ready for a return under Rally2 regulations tomorrow.

Kristensson then went on a winning streak, notching up fastest times on stages three to seven to expand a 1.1s gap to 25.0s. Llarena responded late on as Kristensson’s front tyres began to wear out, winning the final two stages to trim his disadvantage down to 20.2s.

Miika Hokkanen had a quiet but productive day, bringing his Saintéloc Junior Team PEUGEOT 208 R2 to the end of leg one in third place. Behind, Mattia Vita’s day was less calm, hitting a tree side-on midway through the same Świętajno. Though looking somewhat crumpled, his 208 soldiered on to end leg one in fourth.

Catie Munnings completes the top five, securing her ERC Ladies’ Trophy lead in the process. Unlike many of her peers, her Saintéloc-prepared 208 arrived back at Mikołajki intact. Her only major drama came on the final stage where she dropped a minute, pulling over to check whether her car was carrying a puncture.

Czech federation-backed Dominik Brož returned from his retirement on Friday’s opening superspecial to finish leg one in sixth. Though his electrical gremlins did not return, his front left damper was broken for much of the afternoon loop. But with only the Rally2-returning Sesks behind, his position is not under threat.

Fifth place had originally been fought between Sebastian Johansson and Rallytechnology’s Kacper Wróblewski in the opening stages. Johansson crashed out earlier on the same stage as Sesks, while ERC debutant Wróblewski suffered an accident of his own on stage five, forcing his retirement.

The post ERC Junior U27: Lead pair fights for maiden victory appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

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PZM 75. Rajd Polski / PZM 75th Rally Poland

PZM 75. Rajd Polski

Kalendarz 2018

22-24 marca:

Azores Airlines Rallye (Portugalia)

03-05 maja:

Rally Islas Canarias (Hiszpania)

01-03 czerwca:

Acropolis Rally (Grecja)

15-17 czerwca:

Cyprus Rally (Cypr)

20-22 lipca:

Rally di Roma Capitale (Włochy)

24-26 sierpnia:

Barum Czech Rally Zlín (Czechy)

21-23 września:

Rajd Polski

12-14 października:

Rally Liepaja (Łotwa)