One Cup and €30,000 up for grabs: Nucita and Polonski battle it out for Abarth ERC glory
The first Abarth Rally Cup held within the FIA European Rally Championship will go down to the wire on Rally Hungary this week with Andrea Nucita and Dariusz Poloński just eight points apart in their battle for title glory and the €30,000 prize fund.
Italian Nucita has won the category for the Pirelli-equipped Abarth 124 rally three times this season compared to Pole Poloński’s solitary triumph. But with Rally Hungary unchartered territory for both, a straight fight is expected for the coveted crown and the cash prize awarded to the inaugural champion.
Nucita’s experience of the Abarth 124 rally dates back to 2017 when he drove it on his home round of the ERC, Rally di Roma Capitale. He’s racked up considerable experience since then and arrives in Hungary eight points in front of Poloński for the winner-takes-all contest.
“Winning the title would mean reaching the goal we had set ourselves at the beginning of the year, moreover on an important stage such as the ERC,” said Loran Srl-run Nucita, who turned 30 last month. “I believe the chances are good although we must tackle the event with maximum concentration, without making mistakes. It will be a nice challenge to the end.”
Poloński was better known for his exploits in R2 and R5 machinery before he switched focus for 2019, signing up for the Abarth Rally Cup with the Polish Rallytechnology outfit. It created a sense of déjà vu for Poloński, who started his career with Fiat power back in the late 1990s.
Although he’s firmly in the title mix, the 43-year-old isn’t getting carried away. “We have only a mathematical chance to win,” Poloński insisted. “We are here to get another lesson how to compete with this car. It is a new rally for all of us so we can compare our stage times to Andrea, who is the top driver and shows us where the limit is. We are not really counting on [winning the title]. It would be rather a surprise but we hope to have a good rally.”
As well as their scrap for the Abarth Rally Cup, Nucita and Poloński will fight for the runner-up spot in the final ERC2 points table behind provisional champion Juan Carlos Alonso, as Abarth Rally Cup competitors are also eligible for the showroom category, which will include Hungarian Mátyás Nagy among its ranks this weekend. Nagy, who pilots a Mitsubishi Lancer, will make his long-awaited class debut in Hungary after car eligibility issues forced him to scrap his planned Barum Czech Rally Zlín run in the summer.