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Updated: 19 min 44 sec ago

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.

The post ERC event review: Al-Attiyah wins, title race takes dramatic twist in Cyprus appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

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.

The post Ingram takes control of ERC title race as Al-Attiyah wins in Cyprus appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

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.

The post BREAKING NEWS: Al-Attiyah wins Cyprus Rally as Ingram takes vital ERC podium appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

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.”

The post ERC points leader Ingram “needs to be clever” after Lukyanuk retirement appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

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.

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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.

Al-Rashed focused on ERC future after difficult Cyprus debut

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 12:25

Rakan Al-Rashed is looking towards his next rally after a disappointing turn of events on the Cyprus Rally, as his hopes of a strong result in the FIA European Rally Championship were extinguished by a power steering fire.

From the very first stage the Toksport WRT driver’s luck was nowhere to be seen, as a throttle pedal issue cost him several minutes on the first two stages and eventually forced him to retire from the first leg.

His Sunday comeback on leg two was even shorter lived, as a power steering failure on the opening test caused a fire that forced him to retire again, this time for good.

“This weekend is not for us. We keep having one thing after another happen,” explained Al-Rashed, who is co-driven by three-time ERC rally winner Hugo Magalhães.

“This morning, around eight kilometres into the stage, I felt something was wrong with the steering. It was too heavy. My first thought was a puncture, so we stopped. It turned out we broke the steering, there was a leak and it caught fire.

“We had a really bad weekend but it's behind us now and I'm trying to think about the next event right now.”

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Llarena three stages from ERC3 Cyprus win

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 11:56

Efrén Llarena strengthened his Cyprus Rally lead in the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC3 category with two stage wins on Sunday morning, further extending his margin over Erik Cais.

Llarena, who is making his debut with Peugeot Rally Academy this weekend as a reward for his form with Rallye Team Spain earlier in the season, won the two long stages to gain 25.6s over Cais (ACCR Czech Rally Team).

"We tried to be clean, not to do mistakes," said Llarena. "On the second stage we had some overheating with the brakes but the time was not so bad. After that, we tried to manage the situation to avoid mistakes, so that's the plan for the next loop."

Cais took a stage win on the shorter loop-ending Asinou test but only reclaimed 0.6s, with Llarena’s lead now at 1m14.3s.

It was a marked improvement from leg one, which featured a confidence-sapping spin early on Saturday. A much happier Cais found leg two’s stages “great fun” with a “great feeling”.

Orhan Avcioğlu (Toksport WRT) unexpectedly found himself in a battle to keep third place against Florian Bernardi, as a one minute penalty for a technical infringement meant Avcioğlu started leg two only 0.4s ahead of the Frenchman.

He quickly pulled away, however, building a gap of over a minute across the morning loop’s three stages.

Fifth-placed Constantinos Televantos (Q8 Oils Rally Team) faced an unusual problem during his morning run. He caught one of the privateer Group-N specification Subaru Imprezas not registered for ERC points on the first two stages of the loop, though his comfortable time gap to sixth place meant his top five remains secure.

Ekaterina Stratieva (Saintéloc Junior Team) is on course for a crucial ERC Ladies victory in sixth place, which would give her enough points to keep the title fight alive to the final round of the season, Rally Hungary. She has a sizeable lead over Litsa Yiangou (Yiangou Motorsport Ltd), who is driving a Subaru Impreza STI.

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Alonso brake problems return while Panteli remains unstoppable in ERC2

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 11:25

Petros Panteli is on course for his second consecutive Cyprus Rally win in the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC2 category, while Juan Carlos Alonso “won’t surrender” despite brake failure hurting his hopes of securing the title.

Q8 Oils Rally Team’s production class driver went fastest on all three stages to further secure his lead, but it wasn’t a trouble-free run. His Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X has been carrying a camshaft issue since yesterday afternoon, affecting power output at the lower end of the rev range.

But there’s no risk to his position with eight minutes in hand on Antonis Chilimintris in second place, who is “in a slower mood” thanks to points for the Cypriot championship already banked from yesterday.

Behind the local duo, Juan Carlos Alonso is looking to wrap-up a maiden ERC2 title but almost immediately hit trouble on the opening stage of the loop, Kapouras.

A brake fluid leak on leg one’s penultimate stage had already set him back and a similar issue cropped up only a few minutes into leg two, with air in the brake system leaving him unable to stop properly.

He pulled over to attempt repairs and lost over 13 minutes, then limped through the remaining two stages slowly, even having to drive into a bank on purpose just to get stopped at stage end.

Alonso remains determined to get back to service and finish the rally, with points for the fourth place he currently occupies enough to secure the ERC2 title with a round to spare. A retirement would leave Abarth Rally Cup frontrunners like Andrea Nucita and Dariusz Poloński mathematically in contention for the season finale, Rally Hungary.

“We have air in the brakes again. It’s not possible to drive like this, but we never surrender. Never. We take some air out in the stage and it works a little. We are here.”

Dmitry Feofanov (Sporta Klubs Autostils Rally Team) was the main beneficiary of Alonso’s brake woes, moving up to third place with over 11 minutes and counting in hand over Alonso.

Louis Papageorgiou (SLT Rally Team) had been in fifth place overnight but did not take part in the second leg, retiring in service before the first stage of the day.

Photo: Chris Rawes

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Midfield ERC battles intensify in Cyprus as Al-Attiyah cements lead

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 10:58

Nasser Al-Attiyah remains on top of the FIA European Rally Championship classification on the Cyprus Rally, but behind him several battles kicked up a gear, including between two title contenders.

There was a near-miss for the Qatari driver on the final stage of the loop, going off-road to avoid a rock in the road. But that didn't prevent him from taking a trio of stage wins on Sunday morning, and ensured the five-time Cyprus Rally winner doubled his advantage over reigning ERC champion Alexey Lukyanuk (Saintéloc Junior Team) to 50.9s. It was a deliberate strategy to push in the morning by the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 driver, who plans to be “careful” this afternoon.

Lukyanuk scored the second fastest time on all three stages this morning to further secure his position, with Simos Galatariotis (Petrolina Racing Team) also holding station in third place.

Behind those occupying the podium places it was all action. ERC points leader Chris Ingram (Toksport WRT) and Łukasz Habaj (Sports Racing Technologies), who had been leading the championship for the first half of the season, resumed their battle for fourth position, with Ingram initially pulling away by 6.4s on Kapouras.

Habaj struck back on Kourdali, wiping out his earlier losses by going 9.4s faster than this year’s ERC1 Junior runner-up*, which reduced the deficit to just 6.2s.

But Habaj’s hard work came undone on the loop-ending Asinou test, by far the shortest run of the day after a pair of stages over 20 kilometres in length. A spin left him stuck between a bank and a ditch, requiring some careful reversing to get going again and costing him half a minute.

The reigning Azores Rallye winner is now 36.1s off Ingram’s fourth place, though is still secure in fifth, thanks to his 38.7s advantage over Mikko Hirvonen (MM-Motorsport).

Though Hirvonen had previously driven many of the roads being used on Sunday’s itinerary during his spell in the World Rally Championship, it didn’t give the Finn much of an advantage. He picked up a pair of eighth-fastest stage times and a seventh-fastest time on the middle stage of the loop, Kourdali, with his progress was hindered by a broken roll bar.

Seventh place was a hotly contested five-way fight, as drivers making up for lost time on Saturday began to surge up the field.

Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari had started the day in eighth but his position as second car on the road was unhelpful. He was the first driver in the five-way battle to fall back, dropping straight to P11 after leg two’s opening test.

Norbert Herczig (MOL Racing Team) and Niki Mayr-Melnhof were the main beneficiaries, jumping up to eighth and ninth after starting the day ninth and P11 respectively. But from there, their fortunes diverged.

A broken front driveshaft from a hard landing left Herczig’s car with two-wheel drive, costing him nearly four minutes across the next two stages and pushing him down to P11, behind Al-Kuwari.

Mayr-Melnhof on the other hand was on a charge. He had been held back by a variety of technical issues on the first leg but with his car back to full strength, he set top six stage times on all three tests in the morning loop.

Eighth was his when Herczig’s driveshaft problems emerged on stage eight, which became seventh when Mayr-Melnhof eclipsed Albert von Thurn und Taxis (Baumschlager Rallye & Racing).

Emilio Fernàndez (Toksport WRT) had started the day P10 and gained one place amid the midfield shuffle but is now a minute behind von Thurn und Taxis, with Al-Kuwari 24.7s behind in P10.

There was plenty of action in the battle for P12 between ŠKODA Fabia R5 pair Paulo Nobre (Palmeirinha Rally) and Tibor Érdi Jr. (Érdi Team Kft.). A solid time from Érdi promoted him to P12 by just 0.1s after the first stage, but then water temperature issues set in, costing him over a minute and dropping him to P14.

More bad luck came Rakan Al-Rashed’s way: after retiring with a throttle issue early on the first leg, he retired on the first stage of leg two, bringing his rally to an end.

Petros Panteli (Q8 Oils Rally Team) is all set for a home victory in the ERC2 production category, while Efrén Llarena (Peugeot Rally Academy) further extended his lead in the ERC3 category.

*Subject to confirmation of results by the FIA

The post Midfield ERC battles intensify in Cyprus as Al-Attiyah cements lead appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Deciding Cyprus leg live on ERC Radio and Facebook

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 07:00

The deciding leg of the Cyprus Rally will be live on ERC Radio with a Facebook Live of stages nine and 12 also scheduled.

ERC Radio’s coverage begins at 08h45 local time with Julian Porter and Chris Rawes reporting live from all stage finishes throughout the day.

ERC Radio is available at FIAERC.com and via the ERC app. The ERC’s Facebook page is available here.

The post Deciding Cyprus leg live on ERC Radio and Facebook appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

First for Fernández: Chilean leads the ERC field in Cyprus

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 06:00

Emilio Fernández will open the road on leg two of the Cyprus Rally, round seven of the 2019 FIA European Rally Championship.

The Chilean, making his ERC debut for Toksport WRT, will be the first driver to tackle Sunday’s six stages, starting with the 20.17-kilometre Sigan Management Kapouras test at 08h49 local time.

Nasser Al-Attiyah, the event leader following Saturday’s opening leg, starts P10 with second-placed Alexey Lukyanuk one place ahead of the Qatari in ninth.

Thirty-nine crews feature on the start list for leg two. Click here to view the leg two start list.

The post First for Fernández: Chilean leads the ERC field in Cyprus 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