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Updated: 28 min 4 sec ago

Lundberg steps up in style with ERC3 Junior podium

16 hours 34 min ago

Elias Lundberg made an impressive step up from national to international level with third place on the FIA ERC3 Junior Championship season-opening Azores Rallye.

Graduating to the European championship as his prize for winning the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup in Germany last season, Lundberg battled illness to complete the podium in the Pirelli-supported category.

“It’s a really great feeling to be on the podium,” said Swede Lundberg. “We had a really tough event, I was not feeling well at all and these conditions on the final day were really hard. Of course it was a real experience, but both my co-driver David and the team have done a really good job so I’m really happy.”

Co-driven by compatriot David Arhusiander, Lundberg was making his first appearance on the São Miguel-based event.

“It was the most difficult rally I’ve done in my career,” said Lundberg. “There was a point when I actually thought if I was going to make it to the finish or not in the conditions we had on Saturday. But it was okay in the end and this is a really good start for the season. I’m understanding the car more and more it so I think it’s going to be a good season.”

The post Lundberg steps up in style with ERC3 Junior podium appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC Junior Furuseth: Azores result felt like win

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 21:00

Sindre Furseth said finishing second in the Pirelli-supported FIA ERC3 Junior Championship on the Azores Rallye felt like a win following his struggles in 2018.

Furuseth was fast but frequently out of luck during his maiden ERC Junior campaign last season. But his first event in a Saintéloc Junior Team Peugeot 208 R2 – and his first appearance on the spectacular gravel rally in the mid-Atlantic – netted a strong second place behind Efrén Llarena alongside co-driver Jim Hjerpe.

“This second place feels like a victory after all the problems we had last year,” Furuseth said at the finish in Ponta Delgada on Saturday evening. “It’s been an amazing rally and I’m really happy to be second behind Efrén Llarena. Well done to him because he did a very good rally.

“But I’m very happy with my performance despite not knowing what to really expect from the Azores. It was difficult to find the speed without making mistakes so I was trying to find the feeling, trying to find the rhythm. We struggled a bit with tyre wear but I think that was because maybe I was too fast on the Tarmac sections.”

There was one major moment of anguish for Norwegian Furuseth, as he explained: “Approximately one third into the final stage there were some really high rattling noises in the car, we talked about it and what could this be and concluded it had to be the engine mount. We managed to save the car. I felt I had lost second place and maybe I would be third. But Elias Lundberg was driving very safely so luckily we kept second place.”

The post ERC Junior Furuseth: Azores result felt like win appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Cais is top of the ERC Junior Czech mates

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 12:00

Erik Cais finished the Azores Rallye as the top Czech finisher in the FIA ERC3 Junior Championship.

Competing on the spectacular gravel event for the first time, the ex-downhill mountain bike racer, placed fifth in the Pirelli-supported co-driver alongside new co-driver Jindřiška Žáková.

“This rally was wild, a bit like Jurassic Park!,” said the Autoclub of the Czech Republic-backed driver, who was competing in the new Ford Fiesta R2T. “It was really difficult for me because everything was new, new car, new co-driver, new event. And with a new car and co-driver it’s not always easy to listen to the pacenotes.

“It’s my second time on gravel so far but I think we did a great job and next time will be better and better because we have more confidence in the car. The rally was a lot of fun but much more difficult than expected, even though I enjoyed it a lot.”

The post Cais is top of the ERC Junior Czech mates appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Tsouloftas a strong second after ERC firsts

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 09:00

Alexandros Tsouloftas made a strong start to life in the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship with second place on his debut last weekend.

Cypriot Tsouloftas, who was competing on the Azores Rallye and at the wheel of his ŠKODA Fabia R5 for the first time, completed a memorable 1-2 finish for the Toksport WRT squad behind team-mate Chris Ingram.

“Starting first on the road on Thursday, my first time here, first time in this car, was the hardest thing I’ve done so far and it was a struggle, really taking us back mentally,” said Tsouloftas, who took to rallying when injury halted his promising career in powerlifting and strongest man competitions. “It was very slippery and we didn’t have the confidence. I’ve never experienced such narrow stages but everything started getting better and better with every kilometre.

“I was really happy with our pace on Friday and Saturday was way better. We started to build up our confidence and the atmosphere on the stages was just amazing. Sete Cidades was unbelievable, the people, the atmosphere, the helicopter, the cameras. It made you feel like a professional driver and it made me realise that I’m really lucky to be in the ERC this year.

“I never thought about it being so difficult but the experience has been so good.”

The post Tsouloftas a strong second after ERC firsts appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC Junior points please Swedish federation-backed Adielsson

Sun, 03/24/2019 - 18:00

Mattias Adielsson scored what could turn out to be 16 crucial points in his bid to win the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship.

The Sweden National Team driver endured a tough debut in the category for young stars in R5 cars, retiring with an electrical issue at the end of leg one, before fighting back to bring his Citroën C3 R5 home in fourth position in class.

“Of course a fourth place after the retirement on the first day when we lost 10 minutes we are happy,” said Adielsson. “We are also really happy to get the fourth place points and we continue to aim for championship. We are doing the whole championship so of course all the points we can get are important, it’s certainly better than a retirement.

Of his Azores Rallye bid, Adielsson said: “It was not the start we wanted but the team changed every part of the car that was electric, they did an amazing job.

“We worked a lot on the set-up of the car, trying to learn, learn, learn because that’s why we are here. We made a big step forward with that and to be third overall on the second superspecial was a really big step forward because we were 20s off the pace on day one. We still have some things to figure but when the feeling was good I could be flat out.”

Adielsson came close to retiring the final stage following an off but emergency repairs by he and co-driver Andreas Johansson got the Saintéloc-run pair to the finish in Ponta Delgada.

“We had some small mistakes and I was struggling with the braking points,” Adielsson said. “In the last stage we knocked the exhaust. It was a small impact but we managed with a screwdriver to open it out so we could have the power to continue the stage.”

The post ERC Junior points please Swedish federation-backed Adielsson appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Herczig switches focus to Canarias after Azores ERC exit

Sun, 03/24/2019 - 12:00

Norbert Herczig is already focused on Rally Islas Canarias after his second season in the FIA European Rally Championship began with retirement in the Azores.

Herczig was making his first ERC start in his MOL Racing Team Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 but was facing an uphill task running first on the road on day two.

But the four-time Hungarian faced an even bigger challenge on the first stage of the afternoon loop when a steering issue took hold.

"A few hundred metres after the start there was a tight, left corner,” Herczig explained. “I started to turn but the steering wheel got stuck and would not move anymore. I had to reverse, I tried to continue, but I felt the steering getting worse and worse in each corner, so finally we stopped.

“To be honest I am very disappointed. I came to the Azores with a really good feeling and I can tell you we worked quite hard for getting ready. But things like this happen sometimes. Now we have nothing to do, just going forward and manage to be well prepared for the upcoming rally in Canarias."

The post Herczig switches focus to Canarias after Azores ERC exit appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Lukyanuk explains dramatic ERC crash

Sun, 03/24/2019 - 09:00

ERC champion Alexey Lukyanuk has explained what went wrong when he crashed out of the Azores Rallye yesterday.

Lukyanuk had been on dominant form at the start of his FIA European Rally Championship title defence until a puncture dropped him to third on the penultimate stage.

But worse was to follow, as the Saintéloc driver explained: “There was a straight, like 150 metres, and a hard-left corner. On the braking the pedal went to the floor. One brake line was damaged after the puncture on the previous stage. Unfortunately, [the pipe] just blew off and we lost brakes.

“I tried to steer to the corner with my reflexes but we touched the inside and then we start rolling and there was nothing we could do. We will of course discuss what could I have done in a different way. It’s not a driver’s mistake, it’s something else.”

Of the puncture that ruined his hopes of a second consecutive Azores Rallye victory, Lukyanuk said: “It was a slow puncture in the beginning of the stage. I start feeling the tyre is getting low with pressure but we decided not to stop because I knew we would lose a lot of time changing the wheel. We lost 1m20s or something like that so it was not a bad decision not to stop. But there was small damage on this brake line – it was done during the stage.”

Asked to summarise his Azores weekend, which marked his debut in a Citroën C3 R5, Lukyanuk said: “Of course the sadness overweighs everything but there are a lot of positives. The car is fast, we are fast and the team is good. We almost made no mistakes during the rally, we move on, find some money for repairs and we see on the next rally. It’s unbelievably tough when you know you are winning, but it happens like this.”

Rally Islas Canaris hosts the second round of the ERC from 2-4 May. Lukyanuk and co-driver Alexey Arnautov have won the event three seasons running.

The post Lukyanuk explains dramatic ERC crash appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC2: Alonso takes second Azores win in a row

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 20:14

Juan Carlos Alonso kicked off his campaign in the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC2 category in style with a second consecutive win on the Azores Rallye.

Alonso had been fighting tooth and nail with ERC2 sparring partner Sergei Remennik on Thursday, with the pair swapping tenths of a second and the lead.

Disaster had hit Alonso with technical issues and punctures on Friday morning but come the afternoon it was Remennik’s turn to suffer, culminating with a retirement on Friday’s last stage, the Marques superspeical.

With Remennik picking up a penalty for returning under Rally2 rules Alonso had comfortable lead throughout Saturday’s five stages, only winning the rally-ending Tronqueira test while Remennik went fastest on the other four.

“What a weekend! We never give up in our fight to be here with a long trip from my country,” said Alonso, who hails from Argentina.

“It was a fantastic fight with Sergei on the first day. We are here, we win Azores Rallye for ERC2 back to back, two times in a row. I have to say thanks to my co-driver [Juan Pablo Monasterolo] for his wonderful work, my team and my family.”

Remennik’s engine had refused to turn over and start on the start line of Marques on Friday evening, the reason for his retirement only becoming clear later on at service.

“A shorted fuse caused a problem with the electrics. It burned out but it was the first time this has happened, so I didn’t understand what happened,” he explained.

The post ERC2: Alonso takes second Azores win in a row appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC3 Junior: Llarena takes first ever victory

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 20:01

Efrén Llarena scored his first ever FIA ERC3 Junior Championship victory on the Azores Rallye, beating Sindre Furuseth by 58.8s.

Rally Team Spain’s federation-backed star started leg two only 8.8s ahead of FPAK Portugal Team ERC’s Pedro Antunes in the fight for honours in the Pirelli-backed category.

But as Antunes suffered suspension damage on Tronqueira which hindered him for the rest of the morning, Llarena pulled away from Furueth, who had moved into second with Antunes’ problems.

An emotional Llarena was crying at stage finish, having finally broken his duck after a year of near misses and bad luck during his 2018 campaign.

“We are happy. The team is perfect. We are perfect. It’s hard for us to be here so I’m really happy,” said Llarena.

Furuseth suffered a scare on the very final stage, a re-run of Tronqueira, with the engine mount on his car breaking. Though he was 23.5s slower than stage winner Antunes, he was still faster than third placed Elias Lundberg, securing his runner-up finish on the stages. However, he still needs to reach final time control in Ponte Delgada on time to seal his second position.

“We had a good rally and kept the speed of Llarena in difficult stages, who has a year of experience, but I’m sad that something technical is happening in the last stage,” said Furuseth.

Though 2017 ERT Junior champion Antunes won the final two stages on his home event it was not enough to catch Lundberg, who secured the final podium place for ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team. He had been dealing with illness all weekend but persevered to finish third on his ERC3 Junior debut.

Simon Wagner had looked set to catch the lower end of the podium battle and was running fourth until retiring on Vila Franca Sao Bras, hitting a rock on the racing line after a crest and breaking his Opel Adam’s suspension.

He had been hopeful of a strong result for the lone remaining Team Stengg Motorsport car, setting two fresh tyres aside for the afternoon loop. His team-mate Roland Stegg was not able to start the rally due to crashing on the pre-event test.

Behind Antunes in fourth, Erik Cais weathered the stormy conditions – which he compared to being in the movie Jurassic Park – to complete the top five in ERC3 Junior, the best placed of the three ACCR Czech Rally Team drivers.

A strong third-fastest time from Cais on the tricky Tronqueira stage helped him pass Yohan Rossel, who finished sixth in the overall ERC3 category for Peugeot Rally Academy only three seconds behind. With Rossel ineligible for ERC3 Junior points, sixth place in the category for future stars in R2 cars went instead to the second ACCR-backed entry of Jan Talaš.

Talaš had been locked in battle with Team ROMO’s Roman Schwedt until the German driver got stuck on Vila Franca Sao Bras, losing 43 minutes and then retiring due to going over the time limit for maximum lateness at midday service.

Two Rally2 returnees bounced back from their Friday issues to score ERC3 Junior points. Steve Røkland had hit a rock and broken a driveshaft on his Ford Fiesta R2 on the iconic Sete Cidades volcano stage but came back to finish seventh, while Grégoire Munster was eighth on a weekend plagued by technical issues.

Munster’s finish was aided by the final ACCR-backed driver Dominic Brož helping to push him out of a field. Both drivers had become stuck on the same section of the Tronqueira stage and, while Brož was stuck and unable to keep going, he and c-driver Petr Těšínský were able to push Munster out, getting caked in mud in the process.

In the overall ERC3 order, Sean Johnston was eighth on his debut with Saintéloc Junior Team and Dmitriy Myachin, who had retired on Thursday after rolling his Peugeot 208, bounced back to finish ninth. Røkland and Munster were behind both of them in the ERC3 classification in P10 and P11.

Peugeot Rally Academy’s Catie Munnings had been forced to retire on Friday when she sustained two punctures on Sete Cidadaes and unfortunately failed to finish leg two as well, rolling her car over during storm-like conditions on Tronqueira.

The post ERC3 Junior: Llarena takes first ever victory appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC1 Junior: Ingram heads Toksport 1-2

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 19:17

Chris Ingram kicked off his FIA ERC1 Junior Championship hopes in style with victory on the Azores Rallye, leading a Toksport WRT 1-2.

Ingram started leg two in second place, nearly half a minute behind Team OSCARO-backed driver Pierre-Louis Loubet. His fellow ŠKODA Fabia R5 hit trouble almost immediately, however, suffering a water pump failure at the end of Graminhais that forced him to retire.

From there Ingram was unchallenged and headed a 1-2 finish for his Toksport team, with Alexandros Tsouloftas finishing in second place.

“That was the most difficult weekend ever. It’s been the most difficult Azores I’ve ever done,” said Ingram.

“There were so many mistakes from me. I should have been more relaxed, I shouldn’t have been chasing it.”

With ERC1 Junior in the bag he was chasing a podium – one he eventually got when Alexey Lukyanuk rolled out on the final stage – but took hard tyres in rainy conditions in the hope it would be drier than expected.

“We’ve been on a hard tyre which in these conditions isn’t the best idea, but I’m really happy to have won ERC1 Junior.”

“We were fifth overnight and we don’t want to be fifth, so we knew everyone else would be on the soft tyre so we took hards as a gamble.”

It was also a great start for Tsouloftas, who kicked off his ERC1 Junior campaign with second place.

“Wow, what a rally! I never thought about it being this difficult,” he said. “I’m really happy being second on the podium and those points for the ERC1 Junior, I’m really happy.”

Miguel Correia completed the ERC1 Junior podium for ARC Sport, though suffered a near miss when damaging his Ford Fiesta R5 on the final stage, to the point the door handle fell off the passenger-side door.

Sweden National Team’s Mattias Adielsson had lost 10 minutes through retiring with an electrical issue on Thursday but came back to finish fourth, though like Correia, suffered last minute drama.

He clipped a bank on Tronqueira, the final stage of the rally, squashing his exhaust to the point his car was not able to drive.

Adielsson used the wheel-jack in the boot of his Saintéloc Racing-prepared Citroën C3 R5 to try and open it up, but eventually resorted to punching a hole through the exhaust with a screwdriver.

The Swede eventually finished the stage eight minutes down on Ingram but successfully collected points for fourth place.

Pedro Almeida also returned under Rally2 on Saturday but retired on Vila Franca Sao Bras, his ŠKODA Fabia R5 making contact with a solid object and breaking the rear suspension.

The post ERC1 Junior: Ingram heads Toksport 1-2 appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Habaj scores maiden ERC win on the Azores Rallye

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 18:47

2015 Polish rally champion Łukasz Habaj has taken his first win on the international stage with FIA European Rally Championship victory on the Azores Rallye.

Climbing his way up to second place this morning by overhauling ten-time Azorean champion Ricardo Moura, Habaj then moved into first place when reigning ERC champion Alexey Lukyanuk picked up a puncture on the penultimate stage of the rally.

Habaj’s victory is also the third consecutive win for his team Sports Racing Technologies, who ran Nikolay Gryazin to the ERC1 Junior title last season, and the first Polish winner of an ERC round since three-time champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz at the Acropolis in 2017, 657 days ago.

“Thanks to all the team, Pirelli and SRT, they did an incredible job again. I don’t know what to say,” said an elated Habaj.

“We were working very hard, almost two years. This is our third time here, last year we had some pretty good pace but technical issues ruined the result and had massive bad luck. I think it’s just turned around.”

Moura secured second place, finishing 8.4s behind Habaj. Lukyanuk, who initially fell to third place, then retired on the final stage, rolling his Citroën C3 R5 on the very first corner of Tronqueira.

That promoted ERC1 Junior winner Chris Ingram to the final podium position, finishing 42.2s adrift of rally winner Habaj, with Team Hyundai Portugal’s Bruno Magalhães fourth and Ricardo Teodósio completing the top five.

Teodósio scored three stage wins out of five on leg two but fell short of catching Magalhães, the pair separated by 17.1s by the finish.

Marijan Griebel completed the rally in sixth place, with Alexandros Tsouloftas capping his first Azores Rallye appearance with seventh overall and second place in ERC1 Junior.

An arduous rally for Bernardo Sousa included a roll on Sete Cidades on Friday and three punctures but he still scooped eighth place, over two minutes behind Tsouloftas.

Though Vojtěch Štajf was struggling with slow corners, overshooting several junctions, the ACCR Czech Rally Team driver still finished in one piece and picked up ninth place for his perseverance.

Paulo Nobre completed the top 10. “You cannot imagine how happy I am to have finished this rally!” he exclaimed at the finish, with P10 his second ever points finish in ERC.

The post Habaj scores maiden ERC win on the Azores Rallye appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Lukyanuk puncture hands Habaj last-stage ERC lead

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 17:54

Alexey Lukyanuk has lost the lead of the Azores Rallye to FIA European Rally Championship regular Łukasz Habaj with one stage to go after picking up a puncture on the Graminhais test.

The reigning ERC champion managed only five kilometres of the 24km test before picking up a slow puncture on his Saintéloc Racing-prepared Citroën C3 R5, losing 1m28.3s and promoting Habaj to first place.

“It happened 5km into the stage. It’s a slow puncture, I didn’t touch anything. It’s absolutely frustrating,” said Lukyanuk at stage end.

Sports Racing Technologies driver Habaj now has an 18.6s lead over 2016 Azores Rallye winner Ricardo Moura with only the 22km Tronqueira stage remaining,

Lukyanuk dropped to third place after his puncture, 40.9s off the lead and 5.2s ahead of ERC1 Junior leader Chris Ingram. However, he has ruled out trying a last-ditch attempt to climb back up the order.

“We think it’s too dangerous to try and attack now. The time is gone with this wheel, so we have to accept it and move on,” he concluded.

Live pictures of the grand finale of the Azores Rallye are available to watch on https://www.fiaerc.com/live-streaming/ from 15h59 local time (17h59 CET).

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Heartbreak as Schwedt goes OTL on ERC debut

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 17:03

Roman Schwedt has endured heartbreak Azores Rallye style, running out of time quite literally on his FIA European Rally Championship debut.

The 19-year-old German and co-driver Lina Meter, 20, were eighth in the Pirelli-supported ERC3 Junior category starting Saturday’s final five stages. But a lengthy delay on stage 13 following an off resulted in them arriving at the regroup in Ponta Delgada three minutes beyond the permitted 15 minutes of lateness allowed by the regulations.

After a challenging run in the mud and rain of Graminhais, Schwedt lost time in Tronqueira when he went off the road and hit a tree. Although he was able to continue, there was more woe on Vila Franca – São Bras, as the Team ROMO driver explained.

“This morning was really crazy,” said Schwedt, competing on his first gravel event in a front-wheel-drive car. “We had some really bad luck in the first stage as we couldn't see anything through the window and in the second one, I made a little mistake and we hit a tree in the front and damaged the car.

“On the stage after this, I'm not on the point [of concentration] and something is damaged, so we slipped off the road and stopped. It was a left corner, there was lots of mud and water. We stopped for too long. Two fans came along and pushed us out but it was too late. We were three minutes too late [for service], so it's rally over.”

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ACCR’s Brož mucks in to help ERC3 Junior rival Munster

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 16:30

Two FIA ERC3 Junior Championship rivals demonstrated their sportsmanship on the Azores Rallye, with ACCR Czech Rally Team's Dominik Brož getting doused in mud to help Grégoire Munster.

Both Brož and Munster had returned from retirement on Friday to compete on leg two of the Azores Rallye, but became stuck in the same section of the Vila Franca – São Bras stage.

"I was on third gear going downhill and there was a lot of water, so we were just aquaplaning and we were stuck on the side of the road, just one metre away from the road but in the field," explained ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team driver Munster.

"It was difficult to get out of this field so Dominik helped us getting out of there."

While Munster was able to press on and finish the stage nearly five minutes down on stage winner Efrén Llarena, Brož remained stuck and retired, with dirty overalls as a souvenir of his adventures.

"I sent him a message to thank him. I also covered him with mud, so I'm really sorry for that!" said Munster.

Munster is now up to eighth place in ERC3 Junior on his second start in the category.

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Llarena increases ERC3 Junior lead as Antunes drops back

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 15:16

Efrén Llarena scored two stage wins on the Azores Rallye this morning to extend his FIA ERC3 Junior Championship advantage to 31.8s, as Portuguese rival Pedro Antunes fell back.

Peugeot 208 R2 pair Llarena and Antunes were separated by only 8.8s heading into Leg Two but their fortunes immediately went in separate directions.

Rally Team Spain’s federation-backed hope Llarena smashed the ERC3 Junior field by 13.9s on Graminhais, with Saintéloc Racing’s Sindre Furuseth immediately moving into second place.

Llarena also went on to win the Vila Franca Sao Bras stage, while Furuseth scored top time on Tronqueira, with the pair now separated by 31.8s.

Antunes meanwhile dropped nearly half a minute compared to Llarena with a stall, and his luck would only get worse on the wet and windy Tronqueira test.

Getting the rear of his Peugeot loose on a corner exit, Antunes struck a wall, damaging the suspension on his car and dropping over a minute, which put him down to fifth place.

Elias Lundberg moved into third place immediately afterwards and Simon Wagner also nipped past into fourth, though Antunes would quickly reclaim that place from Wagner on Vila Franca Sao Bras, as the Team Stengg Motorsport driver retired mid-stage.

Behind fourth-placed Antunes, ACCR Czech Rally Team’s best-placed driver of its ERC3 Junior trio Erik Cais set the third-fastest time on Vila Franca Sao Bras to take fifth place in the overall ERC3 order from Peugeot Rally Academy’s Yohan Rossel.

Cais’ ACCR team-mate Jan Talaš is now up to sixth in ERC3 Junior and seventh, behind Rossel, in ERC3, though has over two minutes in arrears to his compatriot ahead.

Talaš had been locked in a tight battle with Team ROMO’s Roman Schwedt, the pair trading places repeatedly since yesterday afternoon. But Schwedt’s rally ended with a technical problem on Vila Franca Sao Bras, putting him out of eighth place in ERC3 Junior.

Sean Johnston is now up to eighth in ERC3 on his class debut with Saintéloc Junior Team, with Rally2 returnees Dmitriy Myachin (TBRacing) ninth and Steve Røkland P10.

Catie Munnings had been set for a top 10 finish but rolled on the treacherous Tronqueira stage, forcing her to retire.

The post Llarena increases ERC3 Junior lead as Antunes drops back appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Lukyanuk holds ERC Azores lead as Habaj takes second

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 14:39

Alexey Lukyanuk weathered stormy conditions to hold his FIA European Rally Championship lead on the Azores Rallye, while Łukasz Habaj stormed into second place.

Reigning ERC champion Lukyanuk had won nine out of ten stages on Leg One but a dramatic shift in conditions from Friday’s sunshine to Saturday’s deluge of rain and blustery gales meant he didn’t win any this morning.

Such was the difficulty of Saturday’s three morning stages that even Lukyanuk was caught out by the conditions on the last of the three tests, Vila Franca Sao Bras.

“Incredible, absolutely incredible,” said Lukyanuk at stage end. “We made a stupid mistake, going straight on at one junction and stalling the engine. The grip is changing so much, you can’t believe it. I have never, ever, ever seen conditions like these. [It was] probably the worst stage in my life.”

His 43 second lead is now over Sports Racing Technologies’ Łukasz Habaj, who won the Graminhais stage to pass ten-time Azorean champion Ricardo Moura for second place.

Despite being one of the most experienced drivers of all time on this event, even third-placed Moura was struggling to cope with the challenging stage conditions.

“I have never run stages like this before,” he said. “We have fog which is coming and going. I want to survive, and nothing more. I need to get to the finish line. Nothing else matters.”

ERC1 Junior leader Chris Ingram moved up to fourth overall with the demise of Team OSCARO’s Pierre-Louis Loubet, who suffered a water pump failure on his ŠKODA Fabia R5 at the end of Graminhais and was forced to retire. He is within striking distance of a podium, only 6.6s behind Moura.

Portuguese championship pairing Bruno Magalhães and Ricardo Teodósio were flying as first cars on the road, the stages turned to mud and avoiding them from having to sweep loose gravel aside.

Teodósio won both the Tronqueira and Vila Franca Sao Bras stages to rocket up the order from P10 to sixth, with Team Hyundai Portugal’s Magalhães also moving up from eighth to fifth place. However, Teodósio is catching Magalhães quickly, with only 5.1s separating the pair.

Marijan Griebel dropped to seventh place, losing nearly a minute on Graminhais with a puncture and losing a further minute on Tronqueira through a lack of confidence.

Ingram’s Toksport WRT team-mate Alexandros Tsouloftas moved up to second in ERC1 Junior and eighth overall with Loubet’s retirement.

Miguel Corriea remains third in ERC1 Junior but his ARC Sport team-mate Pedro Almeida, who had returned under Rally2 this morning after crashing out on Friday, retired again on Tronqueira. He hit a wall and broke his ŠKODA Fabia R5’s rear suspension.

Bernardo Sousa is a miraculous ninth overall despite a myriad of troubles all weekend, which included three punctures in two days and a dramatic barrel-roll on the Sete Cidades volcano stage yesterday.

He was aided by the withdrawal of Luís Rego this morning due to illness, who had been in seventh place overnight.

ACCR Czech Rally Team’s Vojtěch Štajf has now moved into the top 10 thanks to others hitting trouble, his safety-first approach paying off.

The post Lukyanuk holds ERC Azores lead as Habaj takes second appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Tronqueira whips up a storm for ERC crews

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 13:57

Stormy conditions on the Tronqueira stage brought some interesting twists to the FIA European Rally Championship action on the Azores Rallye.

Strong winds and heavy rain pushed the ERC crews to their limit, with the conditions catching out several drivers.

While Ricardo Teodósio took a surprise stage win, beating rally leader Alexey Lukyanuk by 7.3s, others hit trouble.

ERC1 Junior contender Pedro Almeida was forced to stop when he sustained right-rear suspension damage to his Ford Fiesta R5.

The podium battle in ERC3 Junior was also shaken up when FPAK Portugal Team ERC driver Pedro Antunes struck a wall and broke his rear suspension, dropping over a minute and potentially ruling him out for the rest of the rally.

Antunes had dropped to third on the prior stage, Graminhais, and then fell to fourth when he lost over a minute on Tronqueira.

Fellow ERC3 Junior competitor Erik Cais summed up the almost unbelievable conditions on a stage known for its jungle-like appearance.

“It was a hurricane! We had big rain on the start. It was like in Jurassic Park! I waited for a T-Rex but I didn’t see him,” quipped the ACCR Czech Rally Team driver.

The post Tronqueira whips up a storm for ERC crews appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC1 Junior leader Loubet forced to retire

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 13:05

Team OSCARO athlete Pierre-Louis Loubet has lost a potential FIA ERC1 Junior Championship victory on the Azores Rallye, being forced to retire by a water pump failure.

Loubet had gone third fastest on Leg Two’s opening test Graminhais, only 8.4s off stage winner Łukasz Habaj, but a water pressure issue halted his ŠKODA Fabia R5.

He had attempted roadside repairs with co-driver Vincent Landais at the end of SS11 but ran out of time to fix the problem, forcing him to retire on the spot.

“It’s just bad luck,” said a dejected Loubet. “I think the performance this morning was not so bad because during the stage, we had a lot of alarms.

“We were a little bit lacking concentration, so the time was not bad as at the end, we tried to go slowly because of everything happening on the dash. It’s like that, unfortunately.

“­­We were leading ERC1 Junior so it’s good, it would give confidence to win something, but it’s like that.”

Chris Ingram now leads ERC1 Junior in a Toksport WRT 1-2 from Alexandros Tsouloftas, with ARC Sport’s Miguel Correia in third.

The post ERC1 Junior leader Loubet forced to retire appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Follow the ERC live… in the jungle!

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 09:00

The winner of the opening round of the 2019 FIA European Rally Championship will be decided today when the Azores Rallye concludes live on TV and online.

Five stages remain on the all-action gravel spectacular with both runs of Tronqueira shown as they happen on RTP Açores and via the ERC’s official website and Facebook page.

Located on the far east of São Miguel island, Tronqueira is known locally as the ‘Jungle Stage’ due to its dense vegetation and tree covering. And, at 21.99 kilometres in length, it represents another sting in the tail for the crews chasing ERC success. The watersplash near the finish is another highlight.

Coverage from Tronqueira begins at 10h20 local time with the stage action getting underway at 10h26. Coverage of the second pass starts at 15h40 and will include footage from the stage finish followed by the podium ceremony in Ponta Delgada from 18h10 local time.

Azores Rallye live on ERC Radio
ERC Radio will broadcast live coverage of the five stages that make up the deciding leg of the Azores Rallye. Julian Porter and Chris Rawes will be reporting live from the finish of all stages and offering their expert insight and analysis. ERC Radio is available at FIAERC.com or via the ERC app.

The post Follow the ERC live… in the jungle! appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Habaj holds Azores podium after “best day” in ERC

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 23:09

Łukasz Habaj is firmly in the fight for a podium finish on the Azores Rallye after his “best day” in the FIA European Rally Championship so far.

The Polish champion from 2015 is third overall heading into Saturday’s final leg, 6.0s behind local hero Ricardo Moura.

“I am very happy, I didn’t have any problems,” said Habaj. “We stayed out of the rocks and things like that. The car was great, we had strong pace and I’m very happy to be here because I was afraid of this day. The stages tomorrow I know them a little bit better, they suit me better and I’m really happy.

The Sports Racing Technologies driver continued: “I don’t have a chance to win but there is a good battle for second and more than 100 kilometres to catch second and defend our third position.”

The post Habaj holds Azores podium after “best day” in ERC appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

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PZM 75. Rajd Polski / PZM 75th Rally Poland

PZM 75. Rajd Polski

Kalendarz 2019

21-23.03.2019:

Azores Airlines Rallye (Portugalia)

02-04.05.2019

Rally Islas Canarias (Hiszpania)

24-26 05.2019

Rally Liepāja (Łotwa)

28-30.06.2019

Rajd Polski

19-21.07.2019

Rally di Roma Capitale (Włochy)

16-18.08.2019

Barum Czech Rally Zlín (Czechy)

27-29.09.2019:

Cyprus Rally (Cypr)

08-10.11.2019:

Rally Hungary (Węgry)