Fri 08 Apr 2022

The closest finishes in ERC history

The dramatic final-stage decider at the Azores Rallye last month delivered gripping viewing and thrilled fans in equal measure as Efrén Llarena beat home hero Ricardo Moura to FIA European Rally Championship glory by 2.7 seconds. But how does it stack up in the closest-ever finishes?

Cyprus Rally, 2018

Gap: 0.6s

Simos Galatariotis became a local legend by claiming a dramatic last-gasp triumph over Bruno Magalhães on his home round of the ERC. Despite carrying a flat front-right tyre across the finish line, the Cypriot edged his Portuguese rival by 0.6s. Nasser Al-Attiyah had stormed into first place on the penultimate stage, taking 20.6s out of Galatariotis to gain a 2.3s lead with one run remaining. However, Al-Attiyah was forced to stop and change a deflated tyre close to the finish of the final test, his attempts to continue with damaged rubber for several kilometres ultimately in vain. Magalhães overtook Al-Attiyah in-stage moments before the finish line. He couldn’t quite snatch the victory, but he did take the championship lead.

Jänner Rallye, 2013

Gap: 0.5s

There was no shortage of drama when the Internationale Jänner Rallye opened the 2013 European championship. Bryan Bouffier started the final stage in Upper Austria in front, but Jan Kopecký powered through and came out on top by 0.5s to start his ultimately successful title quest.

Rally di Roma Capitale, 2017

Gap: 0.3s

A second consecutive European title mattered most to Kajetan Kajetanowicz, meaning dropping points to Bryan Bouffier on the first ERC-counting Rally di Rome Capitale was the last thing he needed. But Bouffier proved too fast and took the lead with two stages left and held on to beat Kajetanowicz by 0.3s.

Barum Czech Rally Zlín, 2019

Gap: 0.3s

It was a tiny margin in terms of time but huge in terms of outcome with Filip Mares clinching the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship title, as it was back then – and the 100,000 euros career progression grant on offer – by 0.3s ahead of Chris Ingram in their battle for second overall at Mares’s home event.

Ypres Rally, 2014

Gap: 0.0s

Nothing will surely ever rival the drama on the Ypres Rally in 2014 when Stéphane Lefebvre and Andrea Crugnola tied on time after 20 stages and just shy of 300 kilometres of competitive action. While their battle was for Junior ERC honours rather than outright success in Belgium, it was thrilling, nevertheless. But Lefebvre, who took the win courtesy of his fastest time on the first stage, came close to losing when he was forced to complete the closing 27.56-kilometre Hollebeke stage with the bonnet of his Peugeot 208 R2 resting on the windscreen after it flew open.

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