ERC 2019 season recap: Rally Hungary
Toksport WRT’s Chris Ingram became the first British driver to win the FIA European Rally Championship title for 52 years by finishing fourth in a dramatic season showdown in Hungary.
Alongside co-driver Ross Whittock, the ŠKODA Fabia R5-powered Ingram overcame two tyre deflations – the second coming on the final stage of the event – and a spin to finish the season on 141 points, taking into account dropped scores and leg bonus points.
Saintéloc Junior Team’s Russian Alexey Lukyanuk finished second to rally winner Frigyes Turán after suffering his own puncture on the last test. He and co-driver Alexey Arnautov could only pick up two Sunday leg bonus points, and finished on 131 points, nine adrift of Ingram and Whittock.
Ingram came into the weekend 19 points ahead of Sports Racing Technologies’ Łukasz Habaj, and a further nine ahead of Lukyanuk, the reigning champion. With the best six results out of eight counting towards the championship, Ingram was set to lose 12 points from his end-of-season total, with Habaj and Lukyanuk potentially dropping four and three respectively.
But in a dramatic final stage, Ingram came through to clinch the crown as Frigyes Turán took the Rally Hungary victory, his first in the ERC to become the eighth different winner in as many rounds in 2019.
Ingram’s success completes his transition from rookie to overall champion in a space of six seasons. “It’s been a bloody hard road to get but this is everything to us,” said Ingram, 25. “Thank you so much to everyone who has helped us, everyone who has supported us. The support has been absolutely unbelievable and we are so grateful.”
Lukyanuk’s final-stage puncture, meanwhile, denied him the event win and what have been a second title following Ingram’s drama ahead of him on the road. He settled for second as Callum Devine, driving a Hyundai Motorsport N-entered i20 R5, took third in his first ERC1 start made possible by backing from his national ASN, Motorsport Ireland.
Andrea Nucita celebrated Abarth Rally Cup success with Czech federation-supported Erik Cais’s win in ERC3 enough to secured second place in the final ranking behind provisional champion Efrén Llarena.
Ekaterina Stratieva won the ERC Ladies’ Trophy for a third time with her Saintéloc Junior Team winning the FIA European Rally Championship for Teams ahead of Toksport WRT and ACCR Czech Rally Team.
RALLY HUNGARY, 8-10 NOVEMBER 2019
TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 14 stages, 211.52 kilometres)
1 Frigyes Turán (HUN)/László Bagaméri (HUN) ŠKODA Fabia R5 2h11m28.0s
2 Alexey Lukyanuk (RUS)/Alexey Arnautov (RUS) Citroën C3 R5 1h06m39.4s +33.7s
3 Callum Devine (IRL)/Brian Hoy (IRL) Hyundai i20 R5 +3m39.5s +1m25.9s
4 Chris Ingram (GBR)/Ross Whittock (GBR) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +1m48.5s
5 Norbert Herczig (HUN)/Ramón Ferencz (HUN) Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 +3m12.3s
6 Albert von Thurn und Taxis (DEU)/Bernhard Ettel (AUT) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +6m04.3s
7 Sean Johnston (USA)/Alex Kihurani (USA) Citroën C3 R5 +6m55.0s
8 Erik Cais (CZE)/Jindřiška Žáková (CZE) Ford Fiesta R2T +13m22.5s
9 Pál Lovász (HUN)/Tamás Kürti (HUN) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +5m03.1s
10 Paulo Nobre (BRA)/Gabriel Morales (BRA) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +14m08.8s
FIA ERC2: Andrea Nucita (ITA)/Bernardo Di Caro (ITA) Abarth 124 rally
FIA ERC3: Erik Cais (CZE)/Jindřiška Žáková (CZE) Ford Fiesta R2T
ERC Ladies’ Trophy: Ekaterina Stratieva (BGR) Peugeot 208 R2