Mid-morning round-up: Lukyanuk’s double top in ERC
Alexey Lukyanuk is showing no signs of slowing down on ORLEN 77th Rally Poland, the opening round of the 2021 FIA European Rally Championship.
The defending ERC champion has been on the pace on the opening two stages of the high-speed gravel event’s deciding leg aboard his Pirelli-equipped, Saintéloc Junior Team-run Citroën C3 Rally2.
After completing SS10, Gmina Mragowo, one of three stages being streamed live on Facebook and YouTubetoday Lukyanuk said: “Actually the beginning is strange, it’s so hard to get into the rhythm, unbelievable. You feel like a rookie in the car and it doesn’t go in your hand and the road is slippery and everything is closed I thought we lost a lot but it looks like everybody is struggling. It’s a good morning loop, good wake-up and I hope we will improve on the second one.”
Lukyanuk, who is co-driven by Alexey Arnautov, beat Andreas Mikkelsen to the SS9 win by 2.0s to increase his overall lead ahead of the Norwegian Toksport WRT Škoda Fabia Rally2 driver to 31.7s. Craig Breen was third quickest ahead of Miko Marczyk, Simone Tempestini and Norbert Herczig.
Like Tempestini, Breen has restarted on day two following his leg one exit and capitalised on his lower starting position to edge Lukyanuk on SS10 by 1.2s and claim a first stage win of 2021 for Team MRF Tyres. However, with Lukyanuk beating Mikkelsen by 2.3s, the Russian’s advantage out front increases to 34.0s with Mikkelsen reporting that he’s “not trying maximum but keeping up the pressure”.
ERC rookie Adrian Chwietczuk impressed with the fourth fastest time on SS10 alongside three-time ERC champion Jarek Baran. Marczyk was fifth quickest with Grégoire Munster, who stalled at a junction on SS9, sixth fastest. Umberto Scandola, who is being hampered by opening the road for Hyundai Rally Team Italia, dropped from P10 to P12 on SS10.
Ken Torn has been quickest in ERC Junior on both stages this morning but it’s fellow M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3 driver Jon Armstrong who continues to head the category for Rally3 cars on Pirelli tyres. Sami Pajari was quickest in ERC3 and ERC3 Junior on SS9 and SS10 in his Fiesta Rally4.
Javier Pardo scored a stage double in ERC2 at the wheel of his Suzuki Motor Ibérica Swift R4lly S. Pardo now heads Dmitry Feofanov, after the Latvian capitalised on a slower run through SS10 by Victor Cartier, who had been second in his Toyota Yaris Rally2 Kit.
Paulo Soria remains the driver to beat in the Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT, his SS9 best earning him an increased margin of more than three minutes. The Argentine was also quickest in the arrive-and-drive category for MICHELIN-equipped Renault Clio Rally5s on SS10.
The early morning runs through Mikołajki Max and Gmina Mragowo will be repeated following a service halt in Mikołajki, with the rerun of Gmina Mragowo also being streamed live on Facebook and YouTube. Mikołajki Max is up next from 10h25 local time followed by Gmina Mragowo from 11h10.