ERC title battle evenly poised ahead of final loop
The FIA European Rally Championship title battle remains evenly poised between Chris Ingram and Alexey Lukyanuk heading into the final two stages following another dramatic morning on Rally Hungary.
Heavy rain affected much of the early action with conditions proving the most demanding on the penultimate test before service (SS10) after which event organisers elected to cancel the second pass (SS14).
Lukyanuk (Saintéloc Junior Team Citroën C3 R5) continues to lead the way in the overall classification, but points leader Chris Ingram remains in the best place to secure the title, despite the British driver suffering a puncture and half-spin in the morning.
Sunday began with the first pass of the 10.60-kilometre Óhuta-Fony stage, won by Ferenc Vincze. Both Lukyanuk and Ingram had dramas in this stage, with the Russian losing his rear brakes from the beginning and Ingram losing “about 5 or 10 seconds” following a half-spin and a stall.
Things got worse for Ingram in the second stage of the morning as a front-right puncture early on forced him to stop and replace the wheel before continuing. The Toksport WRT driver – alongside co-driver Ross Whittock – lost more than two minutes, which allowed stage winner Frigyes Turán to move into second behind Lukyanuk.
The opening loop did not go well for ERC1 Junior champion Filip Mareš, who failed to start SS8 following steering issues. The Czech federation-backed star, on the first of two prize drives from ERC promoter Eurosport Events for his championship success, was 6.8s from third starting leg two.
Erstwhile title contender Łukasz Habaj was also missing from the first stage of the day after retiring from the event following powersteering and suspension issues at the end of the first leg.
Kristóf Klausz had an off in SS9 and has retired, while early rally leader Vincze is also out with a technical issue after suffering overheating problems in his Korda Racing Team ŠKODA Fabia R5.
Lukyanuk also topped the city stage in Nyíregyháza, with Ingram third. Lukyanuk takes a lead of over two minutes into the final loop, while Ingram remains 1m38s ahead of fourth-placed Norbert Herczig.
Erik Cais leads the ERC3 battle ahead of Marijan Griebel after the morning loop which the former described as “very tricky”.
In the Ladies’ Trophy battle, Nabila Tejpar hit a tree and rolled out of the event on SS10 amid treacherous conditions. Both Tejpar and co-driver Hugo Magalhães were unharmed.
Andrea Nucita is now assured of the Abarth Rally Cup title after rival Dariusz Polónski retired from the rally with yet more oil pressure problems.
As it stands, Ingram only needs to finish on the podium to secure his first ERC title come the end of the day. The action resumes with the second running Óhuta – Fony from 15h41 local time.