Sun 25 Jun 2023

ERC @ 70: 10 epic home wins revisited

Mārtiṇš Sesks’ epic victory on Tet Rally Liepāja last weekend was just one of a number of stunning home triumphs since the FIA European Rally Championship was restructured ahead the 2004 season. Here are 10 more that stood out.

Total Tänak triumphs at home
Ott Tänak (above) made it six winners from seven ERC rounds in 2014 with an emphatic victory on auto24 Rally Estonia. The then 26-year-old future WRC champion led throughout and won 11 stages out of 15.

Basso begins ERC’s new era in style
Two years prior to becoming European champion for the first time, Giandomenico Basso (below) began the streamlined ERC schedule in 2004 on top with victory on Rally 1000 Miglia in his native Italy, driving a Fiat of course.

King Kajto makes future intentions known
Kajetan Kajetanowicz (below) came of age – and served notice of his intent – with victory on Rally Poland in 2013, his first triumph in the ERC also the first in the championship for an R5 car. The Pole completed his ERC stint in 2017, before stepping up to WRC2, as the only driver to date to win the ERC title three years running.

Legend Loix is great for his Ypres eight
By the time the ERC stopped off in Ypres for round six of the 2013 season, Freddy Loix (below) had already won the Belgian Tarmac classic seven times. His eighth victory came 20 years after his event debut and followed an emphatic display as Loix led from start to finish.

Kopecký fights back
Jan Kopecký (below) scored a record-extending seventh Barum Czech Rally Zlín victory in 2018, pushed to the very end by Alexey Lukyanuk. Faced with mixed conditions during the final loop of stages, Kopecký, who was delayed by two punctures on leg one, made a bold choice, selecting dry-weather tyres as his rivals went for a mixture of standard and extreme wets, with Lukyanuk on the former. Kopecký’s boldness was rewarded, winning a mostly dry SS13 and SS14 to steal first place away from Lukyanuk before edging out the ERC champion elect by 7.5sec in a tense finale.

Moura mighty in the Azores
Ricardo Moura (below) might have won the Azores championship crown eight times, but he’d never triumphed on his home round of the ERC. That changed in 2016, however, when Ponta Delgada’s finest scored a memorable victory ahead of Alexey Lukyanuk and Kajetan Kajetanowicz.

Turan leaves it late
While Chris Ingram and Alexey Lukyanuk were giving everything to win the ERC title, seasoned campaigner Frigyés Turan (below) was busy winning a round of the championship for the first time when his native Hungary hosted the 2019 finale. P13 after SS1, Turan climbed the order to the extent he was second to Lukyanuk, albeit almost two minutes down, starting the final stage. But when Lukyanuk punctured, Turan pounced as Ingram claimed his first ERC crown.

Galatariotis goes for it
Simos Galatariotis (below) became the first Cypriot winner of his country’s ERC counter for a decade in 2018 with a dramatic last-gasp victory by 0.6sec over Bruno Magalhães. In what was the third-closest finish in recent ERC history, Galatariotis triumphed despite carrying a front-right puncture to the end of the closing stage. Nasser Al-Attiyah started the deciding stage leading by 2.3s but a puncture handed Galatariotis the initiative.

Twelve of the best for Sesks
Although zero fault could be found in Mārtiṇš Sesks (below) and the impressive manner of his 2023 Tet Rally Liepāja victory seven days ago (18 June), his 2022 success was perhaps even more incredible after he went fastest on all 12 stages scheduled.

Emotional Breen achieves childhood ambition
Craig Breen (below) achieved a childhood ambition by winning the Circuit of Ireland in 2015 to move to the top of the ERC standings. Co-driven by Scott Martin, Breen drove brilliantly to keep himself in contention as his Peugeot suffered an intermittent turbo pressure pop-off system glitch for three quarters of the event. Fearing the 208 T16 would lose power at any moment, Breen drove flat-out whenever his car would allow to compensate the time he’d drop when the boost was lost.

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