ERC: Alexey Lukyanuk wins Rally Estonia
Russian driver Alexey Lukyanuk and his co-driver Alexey Arnautov are the winners of auto24 Rally Estonia, the sixth round of the FIA European Rally Championship. The Russian crew in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X finished 12.7 seconds ahead of second-placed Polish crew Kajetan Kajetanowicz – Jaroslaw Baran in Lotos Rally Team’s Ford Fiesta R5. It was an incredible close and exciting three-day battle with 16 special stages over 190 kilometres of gravel roads. Third placed are Estonian crew Rainer Aus – Simo Koskinen in Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.
“It’s an amazing feeling. Until the last moments, we didn’t want to think about winning. We almost rolled on the last corner – the car was on two wheels for a long time! We had a crazy battle with Kajto and I was very sorry to see Craig retired so close to the finish. I just want to thank my team so much for a fantastic job”, said Lukyanuk.
With this second place, Kajetanowitz has reclaimed the lead in championship, because the previous leader Craig Breen didn’t finish the rally. The Irishman in Peugeot 208 T16 retired on the penultimate stage because of technical difficulties. The Peugeot Rally Academy driver was lying fourth, and closing in on third, when he lost oil pressure in his 208 T16 the story was over.
“Towards the end of SS14, we started to lose oil pressure – something happened inside the engine and there was nothing we couldd do about it. We could have driven on for a bit, but it would have destroyed itself. We could have finished third behind Kajto, which would have been good for the championship. After three wins, I wasn’t so disheartened with our retirement in Ypres, but here is different. We have to regroup for Barum”, said Breen.
Other drivers in the Top 10, which get the overall championship points, are three Estonians Siim Plangi, Timmu Korge and Raul Jeets, Lithuanian Domynikas Butvilas, Polish Jaroslaw Koltun, Hungarian David Botka and Latvian Ralfs Sirmacis. Sirmacis, who drove the Peugeot 208 VTi R2, was also the fastest driver in Junior ERC class, ahead Emil Bergkvist in Opel Adam R2. Second place is enough for Swedish Bergkvist to became new Junior ERC champion.
In the overall championship standings, the battle for title is far from over, because there were four more rallies – Barum Czech Rally Zlin, Cyprus Rally, Acropolis Rally and Rally International du Valais. Kajetanowicz and Breen are far away from others, with 133 and 128 points respectively, Lukyanuk are third with 82 points, so we are expecting exciting races till the end.