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Lukyanuk returns to fight for ERC glory

Lukyanuk returns to fight for ERC glory

14/03/2017 16:00

Alexey Lukyanuk has vowed to “fight” to become the first Russian to win the FIA European Rally Championship after deciding to focus on the ERC instead of a WRC2 campaign.

Lukyanuk had planned to follow a long line of ERC graduates by stepping up to the world championship this season. But changes to his programme for 2017 means he will contest the Azores Airlines Rallye later this month ahead of a full assault on the oldest international rally series.

“We will start again in the ERC and fight for victory,” said Lukyanuk. “At the beginning of the year we tried the world championship but those plans were based on sponsor support expectations. Regretfully they have not been realised but at least we made it to the start of one WRC2 event and now we have made the decision to participate in the ERC where the costs are less. The fight for the title should be serious according to the list of competitors that plan to participate and we are preparing for the first event, doing pacenote training, studying onboards and looking forward to the new season to start.”

Lukyanuk, who will continue his partnership with co-driver Alexey Arnautov, will once again drive a Ford Fiesta R5 for H-Racing, albeit with a new colour scheme. “For the first two events we will start in unusual colors – we’ve got support from Rosgosstrakh (RGS), but we continue our long-term co-operation with Boris Zimin and his support helps us to move further,” said the 36-year-old, runner-up to Kajetan Kajetanowicz in last year’s ERC.

ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley said: “Alexey is widely known as one of the fastest and most spectacular rally drivers and it’s fantastic he’s back in the ERC. While a key function of the ERC is to help develop future world championship drivers, having Alexey in the ERC will give the young drivers competing in the new ERC Junior Under 28 Championship a big benchmark to aim for. We’re expecting some exciting battles during the season.”

As well as driving in the ERC, Lukyanuk will coach young Russian Sergey Remennik, who is embarking on an ERC2 campaign with co-driver Mark Rozin. More details on Remennik’s programme will be announced soon.

José Suárez completed his maiden season of FIA European Rally Championship action by finishing second among the ERC Junior U28 contingent on Rally Liepāja to secure third in the final class reckoning.

Krisóf Klausz’s strong end to the 2017 FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship continued when he finished sixth in class on Rally Liepāja.

Aleks Zawada says there were “a lot of positives” after his bid for the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship – and the 100,000 euros prize fund – ultimately ended in disappointment in Latvia earlier this month.

Kalle Rovanperä says Nikolay Gryazin is the ultimate rival after the talented young guns locked horns on the closing round of the 2017 FIA European Rally Championship recently.

Jari Huttunen has spoken of his disappointment after losing out on the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 title to Opel team-mate Chris Ingram in a final-round decider in Latvia earlier this month.

Łukasz Habaj wishes his first podium in the FIA European Rally Championship had come in happier circumstances.