Season recap #5: Lukyanuk’s ERC title hopes on track with Roma win
Alexey Lukyanuk resisted a late challenge from double FIA European Rally Championship title winner Giandomenico Basso for victory on Rally di Roma Capitale, securing his third win of the season alongside co-driver Alexey Arnautov.
Basso had more than halved Lukyanuk’s lead in a single stage on the final afternoon, but ran out of competitive kilometres to catch the Russian Performance Motorsport driver, falling short by 7.5s.
Grzegorz Grzyb held two rivals at bay to secure a “dream” podium, which far exceeded his own expectations for this rally. Ten-time Italian champion Paolo Andreucci had closed to within two seconds of Grzyb in fourth but crashed out.
His other challenger for a podium was ERC Junior Under 28 category winner Fabian Kreim. Keen to secure his first class win and vital points for his championship challenge, Kreim focused on reaching the finish while improving his confidence, happy to let Grzyb escape and finish fourth overall.
Bruno Magalhães settled for fifth, while ERC Junior U28 runner-up Chris Ingram was a star performer on leg three, scoring his first outright stage victory on SS13, shared with Basso on equal times. Ingram had started the final day 50.9s behind ŠKODA junior driver Juuso Nordgren but made up all that time plus more, jumping to sixth overall with one stage remaining and demoting Nordgren to seventh.
Fredrik Åhlin was in good spirits, capturing a second consecutive ERC Junior U28 podium finish on his way to eighth overall. Like Ingram he had lost time with a puncture on leg two but also with a driveshaft failure on day one, overcoming both for a strong class finish.
Orhan Avcioğlu came agonisingly close to finishing in ninth, coming into the rally’s final stage with only 1.3s in hand over local entrant Marco Pollara. A botched handbake turn at a roundabout on Ostia’s rally-closing superspecial sent him into the barriers, costing him nearly seven seconds as he reversed out. Pollara seized on Avcioğlu’s error, taking advantage of his mistake to score ninth on his ERC debut and demote Avcioğlu to P10.
The FIA RGT class was won by Raphaël Astier, who beat his Abarth 124 rivals Andrea Modanesi in second and Andrea Nucita in third. Astier secured victory despite being forced to nurse his car home with a broken differential through the final loop. Modanesi and Nucita had both retired on day two.
Words of a winner (Alexey Lukyanuk): “I’m happy. It was a long and tough event with a lot of stories around with crashes, delays, fire, punctures and stones but we had joy, we had fun and thanks to the organisers for a great. Maybe next time they will make it even better in some aspects. Thanks to my competitors for the great fight, we enjoyed it a lot and congratulations to everyone who reached the finish of this tough rally.”
FIA ERC1: Alexey Lukyanuk (RUS)/Alexey Arnautov (RUS)
FIA ERC2: Tibor Érdi Jr (HUN)/György Papp (HUN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
FIA ERC3: Mārtiņš Sesks (LVA)/Renārs Francis (LVA) Opel ADAM R2
FIA ERC Junior Under 28: Fabian Kreim (DEU)/Frank Christian (DEU) ŠKODA Fabia R5
FIA ERC Junior Under 27: Mārtiņš Sesks (LVA)/Renārs Francis (LVA) Opel ADAM R2
ERC Ladies’ Trophy: Catie Munnings (GBR) PEUGEOT 208 R2