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European Rally Championship
Updated: 12 min 43 sec ago

ERC returnee Hirvonen happy to keep things fun

Sat, 10/05/2019 - 06:00

Mikko Hirvonen might have claimed an eventual third place on his return to the FIA European Rally Championship after 17 years but insisted he just wants to keep having fun rather than contemplate a full-time comeback to stage rallying.

Hirvonen was promoted from fourth to third place on last weekend’s Cyprus Rally when local hero Simos Galatariotis was excluded for a parc fermé infringement. Hirvonen had started the gravel event with the sole aim of “having fun” in his MM-Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5.

“I was not really expecting anything but we are really happy with [the result],” said the 15-time FIA World Rally Championship event winner. “We had a good weekend, there was a small issue with the brakes [on leg one], but the team did a fantastic job with the car.

“I enjoyed it and it was a tough challenge which I like, not some easy-going rally. For sure you enjoy more when you go flat out on a Finland-type of stage but this is the other end of it and it was good fun.

“But I have no interest in getting involved in a championship or anything like that. I’m really happy with how life is at the moment so these kinds of things are just enough.”

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Alonso: ERC2 crown a dream come true**

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 09:00

Juan Carlos Alonso has described winning the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC2 title** as a “dream” come true.

Alonso, who commutes from his native Argentina to compete in the ERC’s showroom category, secured the championship at his third attempt with a hard-fought fourth place on the Cyprus Rally last weekend.

Needing to complete the demanding gravel event to make sure of ERC2 gold, Alonso and co-driver Juan Pablo Monasterolo had to battle a major brake issue to reach the finish in Larnaca where an emotional Alonso spoke about his achievement in a Proracing-run Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.

“After the commitment, the hard work, this result is incredible,” said a jubilant Alonso. “I am very happy and very, very proud of my co-driver. My car, my team are amazing and all the people involved in this project. My family, my sponsor, our co-ordinator, all the people who love us, this is for them.”

Alonso started the Cyprus Rally knowing that 18 points would be enough to prevent his closest challenger, Andrea Nucita, from taking the ERC2 crown on the season-closing Rally Hungary next month. He and Monasterolo therefore adopted a cautious approach and were comfortably on course for title glory when the brake issue took hold and resulted in frantic roadside repairs as well as plenty of work by his team.

“We managed all the troubles and the key was to never surrender,” said Alonso. “Even when we were under water we never gave up because we knew anything could happen. To be an FIA champion is amazing. I turn 50 soon and I am in the last stages of my career so this is a dream for me. I haven’t stopped crying since the end of the last stage. The ERC will be home for all my life. I love it.”

Alonso began his ERC2 campaign with victory on the Azores Rallye in March. After retiring from Rally Islas Canarias with a mechanical issue, the Argentine hit back with a second victory on PZM 76th Rally Poland, before finishing second to title rival Nucita on Barum Czech Rally Zlín. With ERC2 drivers counting their best four scores from a possible eight, Alonso’s fourth-place finish in Cyprus means he cannot be caught with Rally Hungary from 8-10 November left. Nucita starts the Tarmac event leading the Abarth Rally Cup.

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “Juan Carlos and Juan Pablo’s commitment to the ERC by travelling to each event from Argentina must be admired and their title success in ERC2 is a fitting reward for their commitment. We offer them our utmost congratulations.”

**Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA

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Von Thurn Turn und Taxis thanks co-driver Ettel for ERC pace push

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 06:00

Albert von Thurn und Taxis has explained the role co-driver Bernhard Ettel played in helping him get his FIA European Rally Championship season back on track in Cyprus.

Von Thurn und Taxis started the event on the back of trio of non-finishes and without a point all season. But that changed with his sixth-place finish on the Cyprus Rally in his Baumschlager Rallye & Racing-run ŠKODA Fabia R5.

“I really needed that,” von Thurn und Taxis said afterwards. “It’s been such a tough season so far. The problem if you have a lot of technical difficulties, you also become more careful with your driving because you want to bring home a result and it begins to be a problem with regard to your ability and determination to push.

“It’s good to have Bernhard because he said ‘we don’t care, we push, and if something breaks, something breaks and we have to keep going’. He was really motivating me and I’m very happy with this weekend.

“The rally was super-tough, even tougher than I imagined this afternoon but I am happy to be in the top 10, happy to get some points, happy to finish a race especially after that Free Practice [crash] meant it was not exactly a problem-free weekend.”

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ERC Junior co-driving ace Hlousek gets world chance

Wed, 10/02/2019 - 18:00

Jan Hloušek, who co-drove Filip Mareš to the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship title*, will get his chance on the world stage when he partners Jan Kopecký on this week’s Rally GB.

With Pavel Dresler’s long-term partnership with Kopecký at an end, the 2013 ERC champion has called on Hloušek for his fifth appearance on Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

“I am happy that I could get the services of Jan Hloušek for Rally GB,” said ŠKODA Motorsport driver Kopecký. “Alongside Filip Mareš, Jan already collected loads of international experience and did an excellent job by navigating him to the ERC1 Junior Championship recently.”

Commenting on Dresler’s role in a long period of success, Kopecký added: “I want to thank Pavel for his professional work and commitment during the past eight years. He was an important key to successes like winning the FIA European Rally Championship 2013, the FIA Asian Pacific Rally Championship 2014 and finally, as an icing on the cake, the World Rally Championship 2 in 2018.”

Kopecký made his Rally GB debut back in 2003 and last took part on the gravel event in 2016.

*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA

Photo: ŠKODA Auto

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Everything happened: Herczig scores in ERC

Wed, 10/02/2019 - 12:00

Hungarian hero Norbert Herczig was back in the points in the FIA European Rally Championship, overcoming myriad setbacks to finish P10 on the Cyprus Rally last weekend.

The MOL Racing Team star was up against it from the start after being handed a two-minute time penalty after his camera crew completed its reconnaissance of the stages without prior approval from the organisers.

A brush with a tree then broke the front-left driveshaft of his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, leaving him in two-wheel-drive mode for part of Sunday’s opening loop. But he persevered to complete the list of points finishers.

“Everything happened here,” the four-time Hungarian champion said at the finish in Larnaca. “We got a penalty before the rally and we were a little bit sad. But after we could drive quite well. After the first day we were in the [ninth] position, absolute perfect. On the second day we tried to push more because we would have liked to have caught another racer and a little bit better position. Unfortunately, on the second stage of the second day I went a bit into a tree and therefore our driveshaft broke and therefore we didn’t have four-wheel drive and that’s why we were delayed.

“We are here in the 10th position for one point. It’s not too much but we are here and very, very happy.”

Herczig will be the centre of attention when the 2019 ERC season concludes on Rally Hungary from 8-10 November.

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Devastated Lukyanuk not giving up on second ERC title

Wed, 10/02/2019 - 06:00

Alexey Lukyanuk will “fight till the end” in his bid to win the FIA European Rally Championship for a second season running.

The Saintéloc Junior Team driver was on course to bring his Citroën C3 R5 home in second place on the Cyprus Rally, a result that would have put him back on top of the ERC standings heading to the season-closing Rally Hungary form 8-10 November.

However, a fuel pressure issue one kilometre from the finish of stage 10 resulted in retirement for Lukyanuk and co-driver Alexey Arnautov.

“Obviously, this is not the way we wanted to finish the rally,” Lukyanuk wrote on Facebook. “We were driving very safe and [with a] cautious pace whole rally, with no mistakes until one kilometre before finish of SS10 the car just stopped due to some issue with fuel pressure. We don't know what it was, it will be investigated later by the team. Very angry and devastated but we will not give up and push harder for fight till the end.”

With dropped scores applied, Lukyanuk is 28 points behind championship leader Chris Ingram in third position. Łukasz Habaj is second in the table, 19 points down in Ingram but nine ahead of Lukyanuk.

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ERC All Access goes behind the scenes with co-driver Magalhaes

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 12:00

Tonight’s ERC All Access programme will go behind the scenes with multiple event-winning co-driver Hugo Magalhães.

A winner of three FIA European Rally Championship events, Magalhães co-drove Saudi Arabia’s Rakan Al-Rashed on last weekend’s Cyprus Rally, having also worked with his namesake and fellow Portuguese Bruno Magalhães, plus Briton Nabila Tejpar in the ERC this season.

While the programme will follow his participation on the Cyprus Rally, it will also give viewers a rare insight into the job of a co-driver and discover why it’s more than just reading pacenotes.

Ahead of the event, Magalhães spoke about some of the challenges he faced working with different drivers in different cars and using different languages to read pacenotes.

“It’s not so easy but I have been putting a lot of efforts on that, it’s my true passion and I arrange my schedule to be with this amount of drivers,” Magalhães said. “Of course I need to change my mind from one driver to another because all of them are using a different pacenote system. Sometimes it looks easy but it requires a lot of work to be prepared.”

With Al-Rashed unable to speak Portuguese and Magalhães not an Arabic-speaker, English is used in the ŠKODA Fabia R5 they share in the ERC.

“We are using the pacenotes in English and so far, we are doing quite well,” said Magalhães. “Sometimes on the stages when you need to react super-fast I am spelling a small word in Portuguese, it’s quite funny but in the end it works.”

As well as working with different co-drivers, Magalhães has to switch between R2 and R5 machinery, depending on which driver he is working with.

“You need to be very aware of the speed [difference] so you need to sometimes take some caution,” he said. “With R5 cars you think the corner was faster than you think because the last rally is in an R2 car and you need to manage very well the situation. But I enjoy the job a lot. I think I’m the happies guy in the world.”

ERC All Access is broadcast on Eurosport tonight with replays during the week. Check local listings for details.

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And now for more… Al-Attiyah considering full ERC campaign

Mon, 09/30/2019 - 18:00

Nasser Al-Attiyah celebrated his sixth Cyprus Rally victory on Sunday evening by revealing that he’s considering a full FIA European Rally Championship campaign in 2020.

Al-Attiyah, from Qatar, has enjoyed a long run of success in stage and cross-country rallying at both regional and international level.

He’s yet to tackle more than a handful of ERC events in any one season but that could change next year.

“We are thinking to the European [championship] next year, we will sit with the team and we will see,” said Al-Attiyah, who drove an Autotek Motorsport-run Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 to victory in Cyprus.

“To compete in different race [is the reason], we know everybody, the atmosphere in this European championship is really great, a family, and a lot of media. And when you win you win the race.”

In addition to a possible ERC bid, Al-Attiyah also confirmed he hopes to represent Qatar in skeet shooting at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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ERC event review: Al-Attiyah wins, title race takes dramatic twist in Cyprus

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 21:55

Nasser Al-Attiyah grabbed a record-extending sixth Cyprus Rally victory on a pivotal day in the battle for FIA European Rally Championship glory.

With Briton Chris Ingram (Toksport WRT) finishing in second place following the disqualification of Simos Galatariotis due to a parc fermé infringement and Russia’s defending champion Alexey Lukyanuk retiring with technical issues, Ingram will take a lead of 19 points to the inaugural Rally Hungary season decider from 8-10 November, when Łukasz Habaj will make it a three-way battle for the title.

The Pole, who lost time due to an electrical issue on the closing leg, is back up to second in the standings, nine ahead of Lukyanuk in the hunt for European rallying’s top prize.

"We are really happy," said Qatari Al-Attiyah, whose Autotek Motorsport Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 was co-driven by Frenchman Matthieu Baumel. "Last year, we had the lead of the rally before the last stage and on the last stage we got a puncture. But OK, this was the situation. This year, it exactly reminded me of the last stage but I was really careful, I am happy to win the race. Cyprus Rally was really great so thank you to the organisers, we always like to be here."

While the overall ERC title remains firmly up for grabs, Juan Carlos Alonso and Juan Pablo Monasterolo put the ERC2 crown** beyond doubt with a battling drive to fourth in class after brake problems caused the Argentines plenty of anguish in the sweltering Cypriot sunshine.

There was also title success for Efrén Llarena and Sara Fernández in ERC3**, the Spanish federation pair making the most of the opportunity handed to them by the Peugeot Rally Academy to compete in Cyprus for the first time.

Former FIA World Rally Championship star Mikko Hirvonen’s one-off return to the ERC following a 17-year absence netted a fine third overall. Niki Mayr-Melnhof celebrated an ERC-best fifth behind Habaj, Albert von Thurn und Taxis scored a season-high sixth ahead of Chilean ERC rookie Emilio Fernández. Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, four-time Hungarian champion Norbert Herczig and Brazilian Paulo Nobre completed the top 10.

Bulgaria’s Ekaterina Stratieva topped the ERC Ladies’ Trophy classification for the Saintéloc Junior Team.

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Llarena secures ERC3 title* with Cyprus victory

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 17:30

Efrén Llarena’s successful year of FIA European Rally Championship action got even better on the Cyprus Rally, taking ERC3 victory and with it the class title*.

Making a debut appearance with Peugeot Rally Academy as a reward for his winning exploits in the ERC3 Junior title race with Rallye Team Spain, Llarena picked up where he left off last month after the switch to blue and red colours.

Llarena won eight stages out of 12 on his way to victory, his only real scare coming on leg one when a slow puncture developed halfway through the afternoon pass of Politiko and cost him 12.3s to the chasing Erik Cais (ACCR Czech Rally Team).

Cais took three of the remaining four stage wins and looking increasingly racy on the second day of action, with two of those coming each side of midday service on Sunday.

But any hopes of scoring four stage wins in a row to finish the rally were dashed by a gearbox problem on the final loop, which left Cais with only first and second gears to choose from on his Ford Fiesta R2T.

“I think the engine is overheating, but the Ford is really strong!” said Cais at stage end, complimenting his equipment despite the gearbox problem.

Despite a sometimes frustrating run Orhan Avcioğlu (Toksport WRT) achieved his goal of a podium finish in ERC3, having spent the first leg down on power with a suspected sensor issue.

A one minute penalty for a technical infringement had dropped him to only 0.4s ahead of Florian Bernardi but he swiftly pulled away over Sunday’s six stages. Avcioğlu capped his first podium finish of the season with a stage win on the Nicosia superspecial on Saturday.

Bernardi, a sealed surface specialist, came to Cyprus as a learning experience and banked fourth place for his persistence, though ultimately fell short of his aim to win the ERC3 title due to Llarena’s victory.

“It's great to finish the rally, it was very difficult for me,” said Bernardi. “In the second stage of this loop we had a puncture, so now I just wanted to finish!”

There was late drama in the battle for fifth position, as a technical issue struck the older-spec Fiesta R2 of Constantinos Televantos (Q8 Oils Rally Team).

The sole remaining Cypriot in the ERC3 running order was nearly seven minutes off the pace on the afternoon rerun of Kourdali, dropping him to sixth behind Ekaterina Stratieva (Saintéloc Junior Team).

Stratieva scored her best-ever ERC3 finish with fifth place and equalled her best ERC 2WD result at the 2013 Tour de Corse. Most importantly she picked up a substantial 70 points for the ERC Ladies’ classification, putting her second in the title race and only 14 points behind current leader Nabila Tejpar.

Litsa Yiangou (Yiangou Motorsport Ltd), whose son Panayiotis finished P18 in the overall ERC rally classification, picked up a second place trophy in the ERC Ladies’ category, piloting a Subaru Impreza.

*Subject to confirmation of results by the FIA

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Panteli takes home ERC2 win but valiant Alonso wins title*

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 16:48

Petros Panteli scored his second consecutive Cyprus Rally win in the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC2 production category, while Juan Carlos Alonso scored an emotional maiden title* despite completing the whole of leg two with no brakes.

Q8 Oils Rally Team’s star driver was in a class of his own from start to finish, winning all 12 stages to clinch a comfortable victory. It wasn’t a trouble-free run to victory, as he lacked power at low revs due to a minor camshaft problem, though his lead was never in question.

All eyes though were on the driver in fourth place, Juan Carlos Alonso.

A likely podium finish disappeared when a brake problem which had first appeared late on Saturday returned on the opening stage of the second leg. Pulling over to try and fix the problem, Alonso lost over 13 minutes and dropped to fourth, cruising to the finish in first gear with no stopping power from his brake pedal.

While others may have parked the car, Alonso knew that simply reaching the finish would score him enough points to clinch his first ever ERC2 title, so he pressed on despite having no means of slowing his car down – at one point even driving into a bank on purpose just to stop his car at a time control.

Midday service failed to remedy the issue and he continued to complete stages over five minutes slower than class leader Panteli. But, crucially, he reached the finish line of the final stage in one piece, clinching the ultimate ERC2 prize.

“It’s a very rough weekend for us. We manage with the problem of the brake until the end,” said Alonso.

“It’s a dream, you know. We start the season in Azores with a victory and to be here is the prize of all the year of competition and commitment. We are very, very, very happy!”

Antonis Chilimintris hung on to second place despite a rear axle issue on the final loop of the rally, completing the last two stages at an even slower pace than the brake-less Alonso.

“The last three stages, since first 2-3 kilometres, we have a broken axle, so we drive very safely because we want to go to the finish,” explained Chilimintris.

Dmitry Feofanov (Sporta Klubs Autostils Rally Team) secured his first ERC2 podium finish in only his second ERC event, following on from his fourth place finish on PZM 75th Rally Poland.

Alonso’s cause was aided by the withdrawal of Louis Papageorgiou (SLT Rally Team) before leg two began, ensuring he could finish in fourth place at a pedestrian pace to score the required points for title success.

*Subject to confirmation of results by the FIA

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Ingram takes control of ERC title race as Al-Attiyah wins in Cyprus

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 16:12

Chris Ingram has taken a vital podium finish in the race for the FIA European Rally Championship title on the Cyprus Rally, while Nasser Al-Attiyah took a record sixth Cyprus win.

A trio of stage wins on Sunday morning ensured Al-Attiyah had a comfortable gap for the final loop of the rally, and took a “careful” approach to wrap up another Cyprus win.

Alexey Lukyanuk (Saintéloc Junior Team) had been all set for second position, electing to take a steadier approach rather than try to chase after Al-Attiyah. But disaster struck on stage 10, when a technical failure little more than a kilometre from the finish of Kapouras ended his rally.

That promoted last year’s event winner Simos Galatariotis (Petrolina Racing Team) to a popular second place, the reigning Cypriot champion well behind Al-Attiyah but clear of Ingram (Toksport WRT).

Ingram’s third place was a vital result in light of Lukyanuk’s retirement, giving him an 18 point advantage over Łukasz Habaj (Sports Racing Technologies).

Habaj had been battling Ingram for fourth position early on in leg two, reducing the gap down to 6.2s after stage eight. But a spin on stage nine cost Habaj half a minute, and his rally got worse from there.

An electrical fault left Habaj unable to use more than 30% throttle on his ŠKODA Fabia R5 during the afternoon loop, costing him nearly two minutes across three stages. To add salt to the wound, his intercom began to fail on Kourdali, the middle stage of the final loop.

Those factors combined dropped him behind Mikko Hirvonen (MM-Motorsport) into fifth place, though he managed to keep the charging Niki Mayr-Melnhof at bay.

Hirvonen’s one-off ERC appearance was about “having fun” and the 15-time World Rally Championship event winner got stuck in to Cyprus Rally’s twisty roads, completing an incident-free rally in fourth place.

Behind Habaj, Mayr-Melnhof finally had a chance to show off his true pace, finishing leg two as the third-fastest driver ahead of both Ingram and Hirvonen.

The Austrian driver had begun Sunday down in P11 after an array of technical woes had slowed his Ford Fiesta R5 on Saturday, but he bounced back emphatically and picked his way up to sixth, finishing only 19.6s behind Habaj.

Albert von Thurn und Taxis (Baumschlager Rallye & Racing) scored his best result of the ERC season with seventh place, ending a run of three retirements in a row by turning in an extremely consistent performance, setting top 10 times on all but the opening stage of the rally.

Emilio Fernàndez (Toksport WRT) clinched eighth place on his Cyprus Rally debut, with Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and Norbert Herczig (MOL Racing Team) completing the top 10.

Al-Kuwari had started the day eighth and at the head of a multi-car midfield battle but quickly fell back to P11, recovering to ninth thanks to problems for others.

One of those drivers was Herczig, who had been going toe-to-toe with Mayr-Melnhof as both rocketed up the leaderboard. But a landing impact broke Herczig’s front driveshaft on stage eight, costing him several minutes and dropping him to the back of the multi-car fight.

Paulo Nobre (Palmeirinha Rally) finished a solid P11 ahead of Tibor Érdi Jr. (Érdi Team Kft.). The ŠKODA Fabia R5 pair had started the day fighting tooth and nail, at one point separated by just 0.1s, but the battle went decisively in Nobre’s favour when a spin and high water temperatures aboard Érdi’s car delayed the reigning double ERC2 champion on stages nine and 10.

Rakan Al-Rashed (Toksport WRT) joined Lukyanuk on the retirements list but was out even earlier, only making it eight kilometres into the first stage of leg two before a power steering fire ended his rally.

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BREAKING NEWS: Alonso wins the ERC2 title* in heroic Cyprus drive

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 15:56

Juan Carlos Alonso has secured the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC2 production class title* with a round to spare in a heroic drive.

Alonso’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X lost its brakes on the very first stage of the morning and carried the problem to the end of the rally, spending most of the day in only first gear with zero stopping power available from the brake pedal.

Despite his issues, fourth place was enough to mathematically secure the title with one round still remaining.

“It’s only about surviving. I need to say thanks to my co-driver, to my family, who support me in the first place,” said a relieved Alonso.

“It’s a very rough weekend for us. We manage with the problem of the brake until the end.

“It’s a dream, you know. We start the season in Azores with a victory and to be here is the prize of all the year of competition and commitment. We are very, very, very happy!”

*Subject to confirmation of results by the FIA

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BREAKING NEWS: Llarena clinches ERC3 title* with Cyprus victory

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 15:22

Efren Llarena has secured the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC3 title* with victory on the Cyprus Rally, beating Erik Cais to victory.

“That’s amazing. That was one of the most difficult rallies I’ve ever done,” said Llarena.

“You can have a puncture in every corner. There are almost 20-22km per stage but you have a lot of corners.

“We are very happy, thank you to Rallye Team Spain, thank you Peugeot Sport for supporting us to come here. Thank you to my family and my team.”

Llarena’s co-driver Sara Fernández also secured the ERC3 Co-Drivers’ title*, her first championship trophy of the year as the ERC3 Junior championship does not award a prize for co-drivers.

“I want to say thank you to Saintéloc and Peugeot Sport for giving us this opportunity, and the Spanish federation for all this support,” said Fernández

“I think it’s the most difficult rally in my life! It’s very hot temperature, it’s not good for the engine, so it’s not very good for us, but we are here, so we are very happy.”

*Subject to confirmation of results by the FIA

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BREAKING NEWS: Al-Attiyah wins Cyprus Rally as Ingram takes vital ERC podium

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 15:03

Nasser Al-Attiyah has won the Cyprus Rally for a record sixth time, finishing ahead of local favourite Simos Galatariotis and ERC points leader Chris Ingram, who took a vital third place.

“I am really happy to win here. This is one of the favourite rallies for us,” said Al-Attiyah.

“This year was a great year: nine rallies, nine wins. I‘m really quite happy for this performance.  Thank you for the team, for Matthieu [Baumel, co-driver], to compete here in Cyprus and in the European Championship is really amazing because all the top drivers are here racing each other.”

Behind Galatariotis (Petrolina Racing Team), Ingram scored a vital podium that extends his championship lead over Łukasz Habaj (Sports Racing Technologies), who finished fifth, and Alexey Lukyanuk (Saintéloc Junior Team), who retired from second place with three stages to go with a technical issue.

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ERC points leader Ingram “needs to be clever” after Lukyanuk retirement

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 13:52

Chris Ingram’s hopes of being the first FIA European Rally Championship winner from Great Britain since Vic Elford’s title success in 1967 have been boosted by problems for his chief rivals on the Cyprus Rally.

An unspecified technical issue forced reigning ERC champion Lukyanuk (Saintéloc Junior Team) to retire on the afternoon re-run of the Kapouras test, little more than a kilometre from the finish.

It cost the Russian a near-certain second place and elevated current points leader Ingram (Toksport WRT) to third, while the third title contender, Łukasz Habaj (Sports Racing Technologies), is in trouble as he nurses an electrical-related throttle response issue.

With Lukyanuk out and Habaj struggling, Ingram could enter the season finale in Hungary with a big points advantage over his rivals if he can bring third place in Cyprus home.

“I’m really sorry for the guys. They’ve been absolutely flying,” said Ingram. “It’s a shame they’ve gone out but it moves us into a really strong position, so we just have to stay relaxed and push on.”

“The two guys in front of us aren’t in the championship fight, so we need to be clever now.”

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BREAKING NEWS: ERC title race takes shock twist as Lukyanuk retires

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 13:31

The race for the FIA European Rally Championship title has taken a breathtaking twist on the Cyprus Rally as both Alexey Lukyanuk and Łukasz Habaj encountered technical problems, which forced the former to retire.

Lukyanuk’s Saintéloc Junior Team-prepared Citroën C3 R5 ground to a halt just over a kilometre before the finish of Kapouras with a technical problem, costing him a near-certain second place and a chance to take the championship lead away from Chris Ingram (Toksport WRT) heading to Hungary.

But the Russian rocket wasn’t the only title contender in trouble on Kapouras. Habaj (Sports Racing Technologies) was nearly a minute off the pace with an electrical issue that affected throttle response and left him down on power.

A DNF for Lukyanuk promotes Ingram to the final podium place with two stages remaining, while Habaj remains fifth thanks to the Saintéloc man’s retirement.

Habaj’s position is still under question, however, with the Pole worried at stage end that the electrical issue afflicting his car may be terminal.

“We were trying to reset everything. We will see. Apparently right now it doesn’t seem to work. We will try to go through, but I don’t know. I have only 30% of throttle working and if I put more, it breaks up. I will see. Maybe we’ll be able to go through.”

The post BREAKING NEWS: ERC title race takes shock twist as Lukyanuk retires appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Stage eight not great for Hungarian ERC drivers

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 12:59

Hungarian FIA European Rally Championship drivers Tibor Érdi Jr and Norbert Herczig endured a stage eight to forget on the Cyprus Rally this morning.

Érdi Jr went off the road and filled his ŠKODA Fabia R5’s radiator with mud, while Herczig was delayed when he damaged the front-left corner of his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 on the same run, completing the morning loop in rear-wheel drive.

“We go to a small river and the radiator is too much [full of] mud and the car temperature is higher,” said Érdi Jr, the double ERC2 champion. “We save the motor on eco mode, we slowly go. The last stage was fully in safety mode but the guys can fix the problem in service.”

MOL Racing Team driver Herczig, a four-time winner of his national championship and a podium finisher in Cyprus last season, said: “In the middle of the stage we went a little bit in one tree with the front-left wheel and the driveshaft came out of the gearbox and we didn’t have four-wheel drive. We don’t want this trouble but it’s part of the sport. We are happy to be at service.”

With three stages of the 2019 Cyprus Rally remaining, Herczig is P11 with Érdi Jr slipping to P15.

The post Stage eight not great for Hungarian ERC drivers appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Yiangou explains his ERC Cyprus leg one retirement

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 12:40

Panayiotis Yiangou’s hopes of a first FIA European Rally Championship top 10 were ended on the afternoon loop of Cyprus Rally’s first loop, though the Cypriot is back on the road for the second day.

Driving for his family’s eponymous Yiangou Motorsport Ltd outfit, Yiangou had called it quits after stage four on Saturday and drove straight back to service in host city Nicosia.

“We had an impact against the sump guard and destroyed it, so we had to stop. It was completely destroyed after hitting it somewhere in a bumpy road,” explained Yiangou.

“We try today to finish and enjoy the rally.”

However, another member of the Yiangou clan is on target to score some ERC silverware, with Panayiotis’s mother Litsa currently running second in the ERC Ladies’ class with a Subaru Impreza.

The post Yiangou explains his ERC Cyprus leg one retirement appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Galatariotis needs a “miracle” in the ERC at home again

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 12:34

Home hero Simos Galatariotis needs a “miracle” to repeat his 2018 Cyprus Rally victory.

With three stages of the FIA European Rally Championship counter left to run, the Petrolina Racing Team driver is third overall, 2m48.3s adrift of leader Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Although he scored a sensational final-stage victory in Cyprus last season, he concedes that hopes of a repeat are almost zero.

“We have two guys in front of us who will settle now and take it easy, keep their positions,” said Galatariotis, who is 1m57.4s behind second-placed Alexey Lukyanuk. “It would be a miracle if we win but a podium will happen, no problem. For sure that would be a great result. Chris Ingram and Łukasz Habaj are very fast drivers. To be faster than them without having their experience, their constant touch makes me very happy.”

The post Galatariotis needs a “miracle” in the ERC at home again appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

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PZM 76th Rally Poland - Newsfeed LEG 2

PZM 76th Rally Poland - Leg 2

2019 Calendar

21-23 March

Azores Airlines Rallye (Portugal)

02-04 May

Rally Islas Canarias (Spain)

24-26 May

Rally Liepāja (Latvia)

28-30 June

76th Rally Poland

19-21 July

Rally di Roma Capitale (Italy)

16-18 August

Barum Czech Rally Zlín

27-29 September

Cyprus Rally

08-10 November

Rally Hungary