ERC1 Junior champion Gryazin wins Roma Qualifying Stage
Reigning FIA ERC1 Junior champion Nikolay Gryazin has won the Qualifying Stage on Rally di Roma Capitale, despite deliberately “driving slow” to try and avoid being fastest.
Sports Racing Technologies driver Gryazin is redeeming his prize drives from FIA European Rally Championship promoter Eurosport Events for winning the ERC1 Junior title last season, competing on Rally di Roma Capitale this weekend and then Barum Czech Rally Zlín next month.
Despite picking asphalt events to focus on building his experience rather than chase wins, Gryazin couldn’t help but win Friday’s Qualifying Stage, 0.193s ahead of reigning Italian Tarmac champion Andrea Crugnola.
“I was driving slow, no push at all, because we don’t want to be first choosing positions,” said Russian Gryazin, 21.
“It’s difficult to choose which [position] is better. Sometimes it’s better to give opportunity for fast Italian guys to choose their position first.”
But Gryazin will choose his road position before anyone else, beating all the top Italian championship crews also chasing ERC points this weekend.
Behind Crugnola, three-time ERC champion Luca Rossetti (FPF Sport SRL) was third fastest, 0.727s off the quickest time.
Gryazin’s SRT team-mate and current ERC championship leader Łukasz Habaj went fourth fastest, with former Austrian champion Niki Mayr-Melnhof completing the top five, 1.447s slower than Gryazin.
ERC1 Junior frontrunners made up much of the lower top 10 overall, with Filip Mareš (ACCR Czech Rally Team) behind two-time ERC champion Giandomenico Basso (Loran SRL) in seventh, Chris Ingram (Toksport WRT) ninth and Hiroki Arai (STARD) completing the top 10.
Reigning ERC champion Alexey Lukyanuk had a half-spin on the Qualifying Stage, dropping a couple of seconds to score P12.
Double ERC2 champion Tibor Érdi Jr (Érdi Team KFT), who has moved up to the top category for R5 cars this year, will be the last driver to choose their start position. Érdi was promoted to P15 on the Qualifying Stage after a time penalty demoted Simone Campedelli (Orange 1 M-Sport Rally Team) from P13 to P17.
Andrea Nucita (Loran SRL) topped the Abarth Rally Cup and ERC2 runners with P18 overall, with Erik Cais (ACCR Czech Rally Team) the top ERC3 and Pirelli-supported ERC3 Junior runner.
Cristiana Oprea’s ERC3 debut has already presented its first challenge. The all-Romanian female crew of Oprea and Diana Hategan had an off during free practice that took the right front wheel off her Peugeot 208 R2, which forced her to miss the Qualifying Stage.
The crews are now preparing to head to Rome for the start selection ceremony from 16h00 local time followed by the ceremonial start and city parade from 19h00.