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European Rally Championship
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FIA ERC JUNIOR UNDER 27 CHAMPIONSHIP POST-EVENT QUOTES

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 20:11

The 2018 FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship got underway on the Azores Airlines Rallye from 22-24 March. This is what the Pirelli-equipped drivers had to say following the spectacular gravel event.

RFEDA-backed Llarena’s full attack pays dividends in ERC Junior U27

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 19:00

Efrén Llarena credited his “full attack” for his late capture of second place in the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship on the Azores Airlines Rally, which finished in Ponta Delgada on Saturday evening.

Llarena trailed Mārtiņš Sesks starting the final stage but took advantage when the Latvian’s Opel ADAM developed a gearbox glitch to take second on his category debut.

 “What a weekend,” said the Rally Team Spain driver. “We tried to attack, full attack and we were second. It was perfect, we did it.”

Llarena, whose PEUGEOT 208 R2 is co-driven by Sara Fernández, is competing in the ERC after earning a fully funded drive courtesy of the Spanish motorsport federation RFEDA, his prize for winning the Beca R2 title in his homeland last season.

And had it not been for a puncture on leg one, Llarena could have challenged Diogo Gago for class honours.

“We had a puncture on the rear left, 17 kilometres before the finish of special stage six and we lost 1m10s, which was not so bad,” said Llarena. “We tried to push hard but on the last loop two stages were cancelled so we did not have the time to make up the gap. Saturday morning was good for us. We tried to attack and did some good times. I was happy with the performance of the car and the set-up was good."

FIA ERC JUNIOR UNDER 28 CHAMPIONSHIP POST-EVENT QUOTES

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 15:35

The 2018 FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship got underway on the Azores Airlines Rallye from 22-24 March. This is what the young stars in R5 cars had to say following the spectacular gravel event.

All good for Åhlin on ERC Junior U28 debut

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 13:00

Fredrik Åhlin marked his FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship debut with a fine second place in class on the Azores Airlines Rallye yesterday.

Swede Åhlin, who was also contesting the gravel spectacular for the first time, headed CA1 Sport team-mate Rhys Yates to finish runner-up to Chris Ingram in a ŠKODA Fabia R5 podium lockout.

“It’s good, second place in ERC Junior U28 is a good start to the year so I’m happy with that,” said Åhlin, who has stepped up from the British championship this season. “It’s been a difficult two days but we’ve done our best and I’m quite happy.

“We should have gone on harder [tyres] on Friday afternoon, we lost a bit of time but you learn from this. The visibility was really bad on Friday morning, the fog kept coming and going. It’s a difficult rally and for sure I would be quicker if I knew the roads. I had one half-spin in stage eight but that was it really so I must be pleased with that. We had a small problem with the oil pressure but it was manageable. I was trying to drive steady and smooth on the final day, in the middle of the road with no dramas.”

ERC AZORES POST-EVENT PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 09:11

Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov, Ricardo Moura/Antonío Costa and Bruno Magalhães/Hugo Magalhães, attended the post-event press conference for the Azores Airlines Rallye, round one of the FIA European Rally Championship. A transcript follows.

They said what? ERC drivers on the Azores Airlines Rallye

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 07:00

Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov, Ricardo Moura/Antonío Costa and Bruno Magalhães/Hugo Magalhães attended the post-event press conference for round one of the 2018 FIA European Rally Championship, the Azores Airlines Rallye. This is what they had to say.

Q:
After such a disappointing retirement here last year you’ve come very, very good with an amazing victory. How happy are you right now?

AL:
Actually I am a bit uncomfortable because my pants are a bit wet with all the champagne. Actually I am absolutely happy because with these two guys it was a great battle. They won the two previous years so I am really proud to be in this company and happy to win in front of so many spectators who always support us and cheer us. Thank you very much for your support Azores!

Q:
This rally is ranked as one of the hardest in the world but you’ve just driven through with no mistakes, no problems. What was the difference with your approach this year?

AL:
I tried to suppress my open way to drive, my feelings and my intention to push harder all the time. It was a really tough rally for me having to control myself but close to the finish line everything just boiled over and I made some donuts and lost a few seconds. But it doesn’t matter because I’ve waited so long for this victory. Everything worked and it paid off and thank you for the team and sponsors and everybody who supports us. We’ll keep going like this I hope.

Q:
Turning to your co-driver Alexey Arnautov, now Alexey what was going through your mind when Alexey started doing those donuts? Did you think he was crazy?

AL:
Well I hadn’t understood at that moment what was happening. At the end of the donut it was done so what could I do. I asked him ‘what are you doing?’ and he said ‘I’m happy!’ and I said ‘okay, carry on!’.

Q:
Turning to Ricardo Moura, not quite the victory of 12 months ago but a very impressive second place on your first rally in your ŠKODA Fabia R5. Just talk us through your rally?

RM:
I am quite happy to be with these two super drivers. Alexey is definitely the fastest driver in the European championship and Bruno did a fantastic job as well as last year in the championship when he finished second overall. I am quite happy to be in this podium with a fantastic second position in front of my home crowd and my home town and the stages I love to do. This is quite nice. A big, big thanks to my sponsors, my team my family, my friends, my co-driver. We did a great job for only the first time with this car. We make no big mistakes, we had some issues like the other drivers had so I am pleased with second place after a tough weekend for everyone and I am quite happy to join these two super drivers on this podium.

Q:
Turning next to your co-driver Antonío Costa, there were a couple of moments that prevented the rally from being better for you such as the puncture on Friday morning. Please talk us through your rally?

AC:
We have some problems during the rally but it was a good rally for us, second place overall and first in the Portuguese championship. We look forward now to the next rally.

Q:
Turning to Bruno Magalhães, now Bruno a few months ago you were in Latvia battling for the European championship but a crash ended it for you and left you in a lot of pain. Now you’re back on the podium you must be very pleased?

BM:
I am here in the podium and we are the last three winners of this rally and for sure we are the best drivers on this rally I think! It’s a big pleasure and I think we have made a very good job. We had some issues and unfortunately today we lost some time on the first stage but I’m happy with my pace and I’m happy that I’m completely recovered with confidence again and I hope to go to the next rally.

Q:
Finally, turning to your co-driver Hugo Magalhães, another fantastic edition of the Azores Airlines Rallye with a record-breaking entry of 35 R5 cars. Just how good is this event and the organisation?

HM:
First of all, I would like to thank everyone for coming, you made it so special for us. It was a good rally, we had some issues over the rally but in the end we have to be happy with our performance and our result. We scored some good points for the championship and actually we are focused on the next rally. The organisers here are among the best organisers and it’s a big pleasure for us to be here.

LUKYANUK LANDS THE BIG PRIZE WITH AZORES ERC WIN

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 00:40

Alexey Lukyanuk laid down an emphatic marker for his ERC rivals to aim for, leading the Azores Airlines Rallye from Thursday afternoon all the way through to Saturday’s final stage, and capping his wining start to this year’s FIA European Rally Championship with donuts before the finish line.​

day-3

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 00:00
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ERC Ladies: Molinaro perseveres for class win

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 23:25

Tamara Molinaro did not have the easiest of four-wheel-drive debuts in Azores Airlines Rallye, but persevered to secure victory in the FIA European Rally Championship's Ladies category.

A brake problem on Thursday was followed by her Ford Fiesta R5’s engine cutting out occasionally on Frirday morning, and then stoppages in two separate stages which led to four adjusted stage times over the course of leg one.

Thick fog on Saturday morning left Molinaro struggling to find her rhythm, and two punctures came later in the day, but she held on to finish after three tricky days of action.

Catie Munnings made only her second start on a gravel ERC event, and succeeded in her aim to cover every competitive kilometre to build experience. A lost front bumper on Friday was Munnings’ only major scrape on her way to second in ERC Ladies and fifth in ERC Junior U27.

"So happy to finish my 2nd gravel rally! By far the most difficult rally I have driven and a big task to take on the Azores," said Munnings.

"[It's] a miracle to be at the finish after problems and losing time to reverse on every stage apart from one today, but our mission is accomplished and we are at the end.

"Even though I never had confidence on this surface to drive like I know I can, we have some nice stages of only 2,4sec/km behind the fastest Junior. We know where we can improve - and we will be faster again, but for now, I am just happy to take the kilometres on gravel."

Emma Falcón was unable to return for leg two, pulling out midway through Friday suffering back pain from a heavy landing. Not wanting to take any risks, she will focus on recovering for her home round Rally Islas Canarias in May.

 

ERC2: Alonso caps stunning comeback drive with victory

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 23:13

Juan Carlos Alonso turned a 2m53.6s deficit on Thursday evening into FIA European Rally Championship ERC2 victory on Saturday, catching and passing all his rivals in a sensational recovery drive on Azores Airlines Rallye.

Alonso had been set back by a fuel pump failure in Thursday’s superspecial, but had already climbed to second place and one minute behind ERC2 leader Seregi Remennik by Friday night.

Fifteen seconds had already been made up by Alonso in leg two’s opening test, but a spin into a pair of rocks by Remennik expedited Alonso’s charge up the leaderboard, giving him a lead he would not relinquish.

Remennik’s second place nearly disappeared when Russian Performance Motorsport’s ERC2 entrant struck another rock, this time during Tronqueira’s second and final pass. He limped home over four minutes down, but held second regardless.

"Unfortunately, we could not keep first place. The broken wheel at the beginning of the day significantly shortened the gap between us and Alonso. Then we got stuck, that is, hit the rock and got stuck in a very narrow place.

"In addition to everything - cherry on the cake, so to say - was that we hit the same rock as Lukyanuk last year, and just turned the wheel. In general, we are very pleased that we were able to finish such an incredibly complex and incredibly beautiful race."

A broken turbo on Thursday had set Luís Pimentel back, but his patience was rewarded with a spot on the podium. Menderes Okur finished fourth aboard his Toksport WRT-prepared Subaru Impreza STI, happy to have finished in what was a learning experience in only his second ERC start.

Zelindo Melegari had returned for leg two after retiring on Friday with a broken clutch, but his day came to an end once more, this time caused by an accident during SS13.

ERC Junior Under 27: Gago streaks clear for Azores win

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 22:51

Diogo Gago put his local knowledge to great use during Azores Airlines Rallye, further extending a 40 second lead from Friday to secure FIA European Rally Championship Junior U27 victory by over a minute aboard his PEUGEOT 208 R2.

Mārtiņš Sesks had been duelling with Gago for victory on Friday, but come Saturday he was instead looking backwards, fending off Efrén Llarena who had suffered a puncture and lost one minute the day before.

A gearbox problem would settle their battle, Sesks losing first and second gear late on during Tronqueira’s rally-ending test and dropping him behind an ecstatic Llarena.

"Many thanks to the whole team, to this project of the Rally Team Spain, to the sponsors and to all the fans who from home, and some from here too, have supported us and followed every kilometer. This second place is yours too!" said Llarena.

Simon Wagner looked all set to pick up fourth place, but a myriad of technical gremlins ground his car to a halt shortly after leg two’s penultimate stage. Power steering failure coupled with a loose gear level made finishing SS14 difficult, and gearbox failure sidelined Wagner only 22 competitive kilometres from rally end

Dominik Brož moved up to fourth place as a consequence, as Wagner’s Sainteloc Junior team-mate Catie Munnings would take fifth. Mattia Vita had retired with broken front left suspension on Friday, but returned on Saturday to claim sixth place in ERC Junior U27.

ERC Junior Under 28: Ingram defeats Koči in dramatic Azores finish

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 22:39

Chris Ingram capped his FIA European Rally Championship four-wheel-drive debut with a first ERC Junior U28 class victory on Azores Airlines Rallye, retaking the lead in Saturday’s final test following an accident for Martin Koči.

Ingram had extended his lead to 15.8 seconds after Saturday’s opening stage, but a puncture through Tronqueira’s opening pass sent him straight back into Koči’s clutches.

Reigning ERC Junior U27 champion Ingram then went into tyre-saving mode in SS13, ceding first place to Koči. Ingram replied immediately through SS14, regaining the lead and setting up an epic showdown with a slim 4.7 second advantage over Koči.

Koči’s fantastic efforts came to a tragic end in Tronqueira’s rally-closing second pass, ripping a wheel from his ŠKODA Slovakia-backed Fabia R5 and unable to complete the stage.

“It was my mistake. I touched too much in one corner and it ripped the wheel off. I’m sorry for my team, my sponsors, the fans and my family and I’m sad for me. It might have been a good performance but that doesn’t change much right now." said Koči.

"Until that point it was very good rally for us, we had good pace. But you only score good points in the finish of the rally, need to be more clever next time. We will come better and stronger!"

Fredrik Åhlin inherited second place in his absence, a sensible and straightforward approach to his final day wrapping up an ERC Under 28 podium in only his second ERC start. Likewise, Rhys Yates scored his first ERC Under 28 podium with third place.

Taking a deliberately cautious approach to preserve points for his Portuguese championship campaign, Luis Rego brought his Ford Fiesta R5 home in one piece to clinch fourth place, while an impressive Fabian Kreim set the fastest time of anyone in SS13, even beating ‘Russian Rocket’ Lukyanuk and last year’s overall runner-up Bruno Magalhães on his way to fifth in class.

Tamara Molinaro was extremely unlucky to pick up punctures in both passes of Tronqueira, but her perseverance was rewarded by sixth place in ERC Under 28. Behind her were returning retirees from Friday and Saturday, Tomasz Kasperczyk, Laurent Pellier and Pierre-Louis Loubet securing positions seven through nine. OSCARO-backed Loubet showed glimpses of what might have been, setting a trio of overall top five stage times in leg two’s afternoon loop.

Hubert Ptaszek rolled his ŠKODA Fabia R5 while driving flat-out, crashing into a farm building and becoming stuck for over 20 minutes. Spectators came to his aid to extricate his car, dropping him being Pellier and Loubet to tenth.

Lukyanuk scores emphatic ERC Azores Airlines Rallye victory in style

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 21:10

Alexey Lukyanuk laid down an emphatic marker for his ERC rivals to aim for, leading Azores Airlines Rallye from Thursday afternoon all the way through to Saturday’s final stage, and capping his wining start to this year’s FIA European Rally Championship with donuts before the finish line. Portuguese drivers Ricardo Moura and Bruno Magalhães tried their best, but had no answer for Lukyanuk’s rapid pace.

Chris Ingram won a dramatic ERC Junior Under 28 battle, moving into first in Saturday’s final stage following an accident for chief rival Martin Koči. Diogo Gago secured ERC Junior Under 27 in his home event, beating ADAC Opel Junior Rallye Team factory driver Mārtiņš Sesks and Team Rallye Spain’s Efrén Llarena to first. Juan Carlos Alonso mounted an incredible comeback to win ERC2, recovering from a broken fuel pump on Thursday to make up three minutes and beat Sergei Remennik to victory.

Leg two recap: Lukyanuk opens his ERC 2018 account with victory

Holding a 21.8 second lead over local legend Ricardo Moura, Lukyanuk found a way to drive around brake issues caused by a leaking caliper to win Saturday morning’s two long stages, nearly doubling his lead ahead of second placed Moura to 37.8 seconds.

Moura went all out attack in his attempts to reel in the rapidly escaping Lukyanuk, but his push went slightly too far when he clobbered a bank and spun his ŠKODA Fabia R5 in SS11, Tronqueira’s morning pass. Behind, Bruno Magalhães started the day in third and within touching distance of the leading pair, but a broken rear differential cost him over half a minute and ruined his chances of a dream victory on home soil by midday service.

Lukyanuk took a steady approach to the final loop of stages, conserving his tyres and trying not to make any mistakes. Moura’s pace faded somewhat in the afternoon, dropping to 47.9 seconds off first place before leg two’s final stage.

Russia Performance Motorsport’s lead driver set hearts racing with only a few hundred meters of Tronqueira’s second pass remaining, Lukyanuk pulling wide to celebrate his impending victory with donuts. His showmanship cost over half a minute, but with nearly one minute in hand, entertaining the onlooking fans made no difference to the standings, sealing victory by 16.4 seconds.

"I was so happy that I made some donuts before the end. Thanks to my team, my sponsors, they all did really great job. We will try to do our best and be clever,” said Lukyanuk.

Despite taking what he described as ‘wrong’ tyres, Magalhães pressed on and closed in on Moura ahead, but came only 9.3 second short of stealing second place away by the finish.

National drivers Carlos Vieira and Bernardo Sousa lost a chance of an top 10 ERC finish after separate accidents in Saturday’s opening stage. Vieira bent his right-rear suspension while contact with a bank sent Sousa’s oil temperatures soaring, costing Vieira over four minutes and forcing Sousa to retire.

SS11 was delayed by Frank Tore Larsen crashing his Ford Fiesta R5 into a tree, blocking the stage and forcing his retirement. Hubert Ptaszek contributed to the final stage drama by crashing into a farm building, a mix-up caused by an incorrect pace-note.

Chris Ingram, Fredrik Åhlin, Norbert Herczig, Łukasz Habaj, Rhys Yates, Ricardo Teodósio and José Pedro Fontes completed the top 10 positions.

ERC Junior Under 28: Ingram defeats Koči in dramatic finish

Chris Ingram capped his ERC Junior U28 and four-wheel-drive debut with a first class victory, retaking the lead in Saturday’s final test following an accident for Martin Koči. Ingram had extended his lead to 15.8 seconds after Saturday’s opening stage, but a puncture through Tronqueira’s opening pass sent him straight back into Koči’s clutches. Reigning ERC Junior U27 champion Ingram then went into tyre-saving mode in SS13, ceding first place to Koči. He replied immediately through SS12, regaining the lead and setting up an epic showdown with 4.7 seconds separating the pair. Koči’s fantastic efforts came to a tragic end in Tronqueira’s rally-closing second pass, ripping a wheel from his ŠKODA Slovakia-backed Fabia R5 and unable to complete the stage. Fredrik Åhlin inherited second place in his absence, a sensible and straightforward approach to his final day wrapping up an ERC Under 28 podium in only his second ERC start. Likewise, Rhys Yates scored his first ERC Under 28 podium with third place. Taking a deliberately cautious approach to preserve points for his Portuguese championship campaign, Luis Rego brought his Ford Fiesta R5 home in one piece to clinch fourth place, while an impressive Fabian Kreim set the fastest time of anyone in SS13, even beating ‘Russian Rocket’ Lukyanuk and last year’s overall runner-up Bruno Magalhães on his way to fifth in class. Tamara Molinaro was extremely unlucky to pick up punctures in both passes of Tronqueira, but her perseverance was rewarded by sixth place in ERC Under 28. Behind her were returning retirees from Friday and Saturday, Tomasz Kasperczyk, Laurent Pellier and Pierre-Louis Loubet securing positions seven through nine. OSCARO-backed Loubet showed glimpses of what might have been, setting a trio of overall top five stage times in leg two’s afternoon loop. Hubert Ptaszek rolled his ŠKODA Fabia R5 while driving flat-out, crashing into a farm building and becoming stuck for over 20 minutes. Spectators came to his aid to extricate his car, dropping him beind Pellier and Loubet to tenth.

ERC Junior Under 27: Gago streaks clear for home win

Diogo Gago put his local knowledge to great use, further extending a 40 second lead from Friday to secure ERC Junior U27 victory by over a minute aboard his PEUGEOT 208 R2. Mārtiņš Sesks had been duelling with Gago for victory on Friday, but come Saturday he was instead looking backwards, fending off Efrén Llarena who had suffered a puncture and lost one minute the day before. A gearbox problem would settle their battle, Sesks losing first and second gear late on during Tronqueira’s rally-ending test and dropping him behind an ecstatic Llarena. Simon Wagner looked all set to pick up fourth place, but a myriad of technical gremlins ground his car to a halt shortly after leg two’s penultimate stage. Power steering failure coupled with a loose gear level made finishing SS14 difficult, and gearbox failure sidelined Wagner only 22 competitive kilometres from rally end Dominik Brož moved up to fourth place as a consequence, as Wagner’s Sainteloc Junior team-mate Catie Munnings would take fifth. Mattia Vita had retired with broken front left suspension on Friday, but returned on Saturday to claim sixth place in ERC Junior U27.

BREAKING: Lukyanuk scores ERC Azores Airlines Rallye victory

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 20:00

Alexey Lukyanuk secured a calm yet emphatic victory at the FIA European Rally Championship’s opening round at Azores Airlines Rallye, beating local legend Ricardo Moura and 2017 championship runner-up Bruno Magalhães.

Lukyanuk led throughout, and though he lost over half a minute in the last stage with a suspected brake issue, it was still enough to hold Moura and Magalhães at bay, who complete the overall podium.

ERC Junior Under 28 ended with an extraordinary final twist, an extremely close battle between Chris Ingram and Martin Koči decided by ŠKODA Slovakia Motorsport driver Koči ripping a wheel off midway through the final stage.

That crash handed Fredrik Åhlin second place in ERC Junior U28 in only his second ERC start, heading similarly green Rhys Yates who rounded out the class podium.

Following an SS8 stage time adjustment for Mārtiņš Sesks, local driver Diogo Gago holds a lead of over one minute ahead of Mārtiņš Sesks and Efrén Llarena in ERC Junior Under 27 after SS14.

Juan Carlos Alonso looks set to clinch victory in ERC2, holding a 31 second advantage over Sergei Remennik after SS14.

Llarena promoted in ERC Junior U27 after more timing adjustments

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 18:17

Efrén Llarena has successfully appealed his adjusted stage time from yesterday’s final stage of Azores Airlines Rallye, gaining nearly 1m30s and retaking third place in FIA European Rally Championship Junior Under 27.

Tomasz Kasperczyk crashed in Sete Cidades, blocking the stage and leading to its suspension. Llarena’s Team Rallye Spain Peugeot 208 R2 was last to encounter Kasperczyk’s stranded car, losing several minutes.

Llarena’s time had originally been adjusted down slightly, based upon his first pass through the same Sete Cidades test. However, he had struggled through SS6 earlier with a puncture, dropping over a minute to his ERC Junior U27 rivals.

Having re-examined Llarena’s first pass through Sete Cidades and accounted for his earlier issues through the same stage, officials elected to adjust his time down once more, awarding him an identical result to ERC Junior U27 leader Mārtiņš Sesks, 18m22.1s.

Dávid Botka, José Pedro Fontes, Ricardo Teodósio, Carlos Vieira, Orhan Avcioğlu and Tamara Molinaro all benefited from a second round of adjustments, being given Marijan Griebel’s representative time of 17m30.3s. In Molinaro’s case, over a minute was handed back, having previously been given a time of 18m44.8s.

Dominic Broz, Catie Munnings, Luis Pimentel, and Menderes Okur were also handed further adjustments to their SS9 times, having been caught up in a separate blockage involving Miguel Correia's stranded Renault Clio R3.

Lukyanuk extends ERC Azores lead despite spin

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 16:06

Alexey Lukyanuk continues to edge ahead out front in Azores Airlines Rallye, moving closer to victory in the FIA European Rally Championship’s season opener despite a spin.

Drama befell many drivers through SS10, including a long stoppage for a crash early in Tronqueira by Frank Tore Larsen. He went nose-first into a tree, blocking the stage and causing a near hour-long suspension of competitive action.

After Larsen’s stricken Ford Fiesta R5 was cleared, issues struck almost every front-running car. Lukyanuk complained of a soft brake pedal caused by a leaking caliper, dropping 10 seconds with a spin yet still going quickest through the 21.99 kilometre test.

Nine-time Azorean rally champion Ricardo Moura also spun after hitting a bank, lucky not to sustain any major damage. He lost further time in Lukyanuk’s dust during the Grupo Marques superspecial, dropping five seconds.

Bruno Magalhães kept his car pointing forward throughout, but struggled with a broken rear differential, dropping 20.5 seconds to second placed Moura across leg two’s morning loop.

ERC Junior Under 28 leader Chris Ingram did not survive Tronqueira without drama either, sustaining a left rear puncture to his Toksport WRT-prepared ŠKODA Fabia R5. Ingram’s 15 second gap to Martin Koči was almost entirely wiped out, now holding fourth overall by only 2.6 seconds to ERC Junior U28 rival Koči behind.

Rhys Yates dropped down to P13 due to being stuck behind Larsen’s crashed Fiesta R5, but is expected to regain seventh place overall and fourth in ERC Junior U28, with a notional time for Tronqueira yet to be assigned to him. Fredrik Åhlin remains around one minute clear, third in ERC Junior U28 and sixth overall.

Łukasz Habaj and Norbert Herczig were two of a small number of drivers with a drama-free morning, taking advantage of clean runs to move up to seventh and eighth respectively.

Luis Rego benefitted not only from Larsen’s retirement but troubles for his fellow Portuguese rivals to keep his top 10 place, running ninth overall. Carlos Vieira had to brave unswept gravel in Graminhais as first car out, his car crabbing throughout leg two’s first pair of stages with suspension damage. Losing over four minutes, his chances of ERC points are now gone.

Bernardo Sousa was also caught out by the same leg-opening stage, sustaining front left damage after clipping a bank inside a corner. Oil temperatures rising aboard his Citroën DS3 R5 after stage end, he was forced to retire thereafter.

Diogo Gago used his local knowledge to devastating effect, snatching first place in ERC Junior Under 27 from long-time leader Mārtiņš Sesks. He immediately set to work, gaining 19.7 seconds in leg two’s opening test to establish a 9.3 second lead.

Simon Wagner and Efrén Llarena continued to hold station in third and fourth place for both ERC Junior U27 and ERC3 standings. while Ruben Rodrigues completes ERC3’s top five and Dominik Brož rounds out ERC Under 27’s top five.

Further twists and turns in ERC2’s lead battle came courtesy of Sergei Remennik, who spun out and became stuck between two rocks midway through Tronqueira. This allowed Juan Carlos Alonso to gain nearly a minute, sending him into first place after an amazing comeback drive from losing over three minutes with fuel pump failure on Thursday.

Zelindo Melegari’s rally suffered another unfortunate turn of luck, following up clutch failure on Friday with a broken turbo this morning. He continues to nurse his Subaru Impreza STI towards service after SS11, but is uncertain whether he will continue this afternoon.

Tronqueira ERC Azores stage delayed by Larsen incident

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 13:22

Azores Airlines Rallye’s second Saturday morning stage has been delayed by a crash for FIA European Rally Championship Under 28 competitor Frank Tore Larsen, his Ford Fiesta R5 blocking the stage.

Larsen was running as third car through the 21.99 kilometre Tronqueira stage, but ran wide and hit a bank, bouncing back into the stage at 90 degrees to the road and blocking the stage. Both Larsen and co-driver Torstein Eriksen were reported as OK following the crash.

While spectators were able to push the car far enough for Rhys Yates to squeeze through, organisers elected to suspend the stage thereafter while marshals cleared Larsen’s stricken Fiesta.

Action will resume at 11:19am local time with Fredrik Åhlin setting off. Bernardo Sousa was originally scheduled to start after Yates, but heavy damage sustained to his Citroën DS3 R5 in Saturday’s opening stage lead to his retirement after SS10.

Griebel withdraws from ERC Azores Airlines Rallye

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 11:57

Reigning FIA European Rally Championship Junior U28 title holder Marijan Griebel will not return for Azores Airlines Rallye’s final leg, electing to save budget for future events.

Griebel faced a challenging second day in the Azores, his car proving difficult to handle around the tricky gravel stages.

Dropping out of points scoring places from P8 to P17 over the course of Friday’s six stages, Griebel packed up his PEUGEOT 208 T16 last night to focus on future ERC events.

“In our current situation and position, we have no chance for championship points. Therefore, it makes no sense for us to continue to burden the already tight budget,” said Griebel in a Facebook statement.

“Thanks to the guys from the team and Stefan [Kopczyk, his co-driver], who has sacrificed a lot of time and energy for the rally, and sorry to all the fans.”

Why it was over and out for ERC Junior Kristensson

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 08:00

Tom Kristensson has spoken about his dramatic exit from the Azores Airlines Rallye, the opening event of the 2018 FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship.

Kristensson, who is stepping up to ERC Junior as his prize for winning the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup in Germany last season, had just clocked the fastest time through Friday’s opening Pico da Pedra Golfe stage when disaster struck.

“It started really good and we get a good pace,” the Swede explained. “At the end of the stage [four] the corner was tightening a bit too much and the car don’t steer in as I was expecting. It hit the stone in the right side at the end of the corner and there was nothing I could do. It was just turning over. It’s my first roll over in 200 rallies but sometimes it happens, it happens now and it’s rallying.”

Kristensson confirmed he will be unable to restart on today’s closing leg after checks confirmed his ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team ADAM R2 was beyond immediate repair.

“The car is too damaged, it was rolling two times on the road and the hit at the beginning was too hard so it’s just not possible to do. We are just looking forward to the next rally in Gran Canaria. That’s the only thing we can do now.”

Vieira starts first, 11 crews returning for ERC Azores leg two

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 06:00

Carlos Vieira will lead the FIA European Rally Championship field into Azores Airlines Rallye’s final day of action, running as first car on leg two’s six stages aboard his Team Hyundai Portugal i20 R5 later today.

As first into a pair of stages yet to feature in this year's rally itinerary, reigning Portuguese rally champion Vieira faces a day of road sweeping, while rally leader Alexey Lukyanuk benefits from a cleaner path swept by those ahead restarting P10.

Frank Tore Larsen finished where he started on Friday in ninth place, so once again contributes to sweeping the dusty gravel stages as second car on the road, with Rhys Yates and Bernardo Sousa following soon thereafter.

Gravel sweeping won’t be a big concern for ERC2 and ERC3 drivers, the latter headed by Mārtiņš Sesks setting off P23 and the former lead away eight minutes later by Sergei Remennik.

There are 11 crews which retired from the first leg looking to restart today, though all are still subject to checks before being allowed to resume. 10 must pass re-scrutineering, while Emma Falcón will undergo a medical evaluation after hurting her back on Friday.

Hermann Neubauer and Albert von Thurn und Taxis will not attempt to restart leg two, as both their cars suffered terminal damage to their body shell and rollcage respectively.

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ORLEN 74 Rally Poland / Rajd Polski

ORLEN 74 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)