Midday round-up: Crugnola leads Basso by 2.5s on ERC Rally di Roma Capitale
Andrea Crugnola leads round three of the FIA European Rally Championship by 2.5s ahead of Giandomenico Basso.
After four stages of the all-asphalt event, the Hyundai Rally Team Italia driver heads double ERC champion Basso with European championship leader Alexey Lukyanuk in third, 9.3s behind Basso.
Crugnola began Saturday’s action leading Basso by 0.6s following his fastest time through SSS0 Caracalla in Rome last night. But Basso was in front following today’s opening test, which he completed 1.7s faster than Crugnola. The ERC Junior graduate hit back on SS2 and was 4.4s faster than Basso, but Basso was fastest on SS3 to cut Crugnola’s margin to 2.5s.
“For sure it has been a very good morning,” said Crugnola. “We started very well yesterday night and we are continuing today. We need to continue this pace but it’s not so easy because the other drivers are pushing a lot. It’s close and it will be a tough battle. I have always been fast on this rally so I was expecting to at least be in the top five. At the moment I am quite satisfied.”
Basso said: “Everything is okay, it’s a very hard first loop with the conditions. It’s hot and difficult for us, the tyre and the car. I am happy for now and we will see in the next loop. I think I can push more but only medium more.”
Norbert Herczig is a strong fourth for Škoda Rally Team Hungaria, 0.7s ahead of Damiano De Tommaso. “The first stage was quite okay,” said Herczig. “On the second my self-confidence was not so good. I don’t know why, maybe our set-up was not too good for the long stage because on some long corners we had some understeer and we slide too much in some corners. But the third one was a success for us.”
Rallye Team Spain’s Efrén Llarena is sixth on his first start on asphalt in his Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo followed by ORLEN Team’s Miko Marczyk and Fabio Andolfi, the Italian championship points leader. Yoann Bonato is ninth for CHL Sport Auto, one place ahead of Hyundai Rally Team Italia’s Umberto Scandola.
Simone Tempestini is P11 with Tommaso Ciuffi P12. Toksport WRT’s Andreas Mikkelsen, Craig Breen (Team MRF Tyres) and Giacomo Scattolon complete the ERC top 15 followed by Ole Christian Veiby, Simone Campedelli, Alberto Battistolli, Erik Cais and Josh McErlean.
Qualifying Stage winner Nikolay Gryazin dropped out of contention changing a damaged front-left tyre on Saturday’s first stage, while a rear-left puncture delayed Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy’s Callum Devine on SS3. A handbrake and rear differential issue have hampered Erik Cais aboard his Yacco ACCR Team Fiesta. Understeer has troubled Hyundai Junior Driver Grégoire Munster.
Javier Pardo leads Suzuki Motor Ibérica team-mate Joan Vinyes by 8.9s in the battle for victory in ERC2. Florian Bernardi (Renault Clio Rally4) is 2.1s ahead of Rallye Team Spain Peugeot 208 Rally4 driver Pep Bassas in ERC3. Ken Torn leads fellow M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3 driver Oscar Solberg in ERC Junior, despite having to complete much of the morning without powersteering.
A mere 6.9s separate ERC3 Junior leader Jean-Baptiste Franceschi and fourth-placed Martin László. Alejandro Cachón is equal on time with Franceschi in second with Norbert Maior 3.0s further back.
Dariusz Poloński holds the Abarth Rally Cup advantage. Yigit Timur tops the Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT order with a 9.3s margin over Paulo Soria.
The rerun of 7.25-kilometre Rocca di Cave is up next from 14h16 local time following service in Fiuggi.