Midday round-up: Gryazin going great in ERC
Nikolay Gryazin leads ORLEN 77th Rally Poland by an impressive margin of 35.9s following a dramatic opening morning on round one of the 2021 FIA European Rally Championship.
After a troubled Qualifying Stage on Friday, Gryazin began Saturday’s leg 39th on the road in the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 he shares with co-driver Konstantin Aleksandrov.
Having gone quickest on Friday evening’s Mikołajki Arena stage, Gryazin capitalised on his lowly starting position to win all three stages this morning in his Pirelli-equipped entry as temperatures reached 30 degrees centigrade.
“It was nothing special,” said Gryazin, who inflicted minor damage to the front of his car striking a hay bale on SS3. “I lost in a few corners a lot in the beginning, it was quite tricky and we need to work with the pacenotes because it was difficult to write good pacenotes in the dust [during the recce]. I can’t say we have more grip [with our road position] because there are still some places with no grip. But I can see the time is not bad so if it keeps like this we can try to keep some gap.”
Alexey Lukyanuk, who is beginning his ERC title defence on the 100th anniversary of Rally Poland, is second in his Saintéloc Junior Team Citroën C3 Rally2 with Toksport WRT Škoda Fabia driver Andreas Mikkelsen in third. Lukyanuk, who is driving a replacement car following his testing crash on Tuesday, reported minor brake bias and windscreen wiper issues, while Mikkelsen admitted to being too cautious.
ORLEN Team’s top Pole Miko Marczyk is a fine fourth with former ERC2 champion Wojciech Chuchała a strong fifth. Fabian Kreim (Pole Promotion) demoted Craig Breen for sixth on SS4 after the Team MRF Tyres driver was momentarily delayed. However, a technical problem on the liaison section to service in Mikołajki has forced Kreim to retire. Breen, meanwhile, had been running third prior to SS4.
Yoann Bonato (CHL Sport Auto) and Norbert Herczig (Škoda Rally Team Hungaria) are eight and ninth respectively with 10th-placed Nil Solans nursing cosmetic damage to the rear of his Škoda following an off on SS2.
Grégoire Munster is P11, Erik Cais (Yacco ACCR Team) is one place behind in P12 followed by Efrén Llarena (Rallye Team Spain), Kacper Wróblewski and Hyundai Rally Team Italia’s Umberto Scandola.
Callum Devine is nursing a gearbox issue on his Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy-entered Ford Fiesta Rally2. Tomasz Kasperczyk continued after rolling on SS4, but Nabila Tejpar was less fortunate after she rolled into retirement on the same stage. Simone Campedelli retired in service this morning due to the recurrence of the powersteering issue that plagued him on Friday. He won’t restart on leg two.
Jon Armstrong leads ERC Junior in the all-new Ford Fiesta Rally3. Sami Pajari is on top in ERC3 Junior in his Fiesta Rally4 followed by Ola Jr Nore (Renault Clio Rally4) and Norbert Maior (Peugeot 208 Rally4). Nore reported losing time reversing after an overshoot on SS3. Mathieu Franceschi is second in ERC3.
Defending champion Tibor Érdi Jr demoted Victor Cartier for the lead of ERC2 on SS4. Javier Pardo is third after passing Dmitry Feofanov on the same stage.
Paulo Soria heads Andrea Mabellini in the Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT, the new arrive-and-drive series for the Clio Rally5 on MICHELIN tyres.
Dariusz Poloński is on course for victory in the Abarth Rally Cup.
ORLEN 77th Rally Poland continues with the rerun of Świętajno from 15h10 local time. It’s followed by Olecko (15h55) and Wieliczki (16h50) before the day is completed by the Mikołajki Arena stage from 19h00.