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ERC Rally Islas Canarias : Lukyanuk beats Kajetanowicz

Podium 02 Alexey LUKYANUKAlexey ARNAUTOV Ford Fiesta R5 AMBIANCE 01 Kajetan KAJETANOWICZ  Jarek BARAN Ford Fiesta R5 AMBIANCE 04 Luis MONZÓN ARTILES José Carlos DÉNIZ HOLTTMAN Citroën DS3 R5 Podium 02 Alexey LUKYANUKAlexey ARNAUTOV Ford Fiesta R5 AMBIANCE 01 Kajetan KAJETANOWICZ Jarek BARAN Ford Fiesta R5 AMBIANCE 04 Luis MONZÓN ARTILES José Carlos DÉNIZ HOLTTMAN Citroën DS3 R5[/caption]

Alexey Lukyanuk won the opening round of the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship after defeating the defending champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz on the final day of Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés.

The triumph in Gran Canaria is a second consecutive ERC win for Russian driver Lukyanuk and co-driver Alexey Arnautov – their third in total – after they won last year’s final round in Switzerland. Lukyanuk started leg two with a 22.7-second deficit to his fellow Pirelli-shod Ford Fiesta R5 driver Kajetanowicz but profited when the LOTOS Rally Team driver suffered excessive tyre wear during the morning loop as the result of high tyre pressures.

[caption id="attachment_30061" align="alignright" width="300"]02 Alexey LUKYANUK Alexey ARNAUTOV Ford Fiesta R5 02 Alexey LUKYANUK Alexey ARNAUTOV Ford Fiesta R5[/caption]

Lukyanuk took the lead on SS9 and extended it to over half a minute on SS10 before the midday service in Las Palmas. Thereafter he resisted Kajetanowicz’s attempts to get back on terms, picking up his third and fourth stage wins of the event on the final two stages to finish up 32.7s ahead.

“It’s incredible to be honest,” said Lukyanuk, who had ended the 2015 season with a maiden Tarmac victory. “The competition was so hard. We did a lot of mistakes yesterday but this helped us today. It is super and I am really proud for my team and my sponsors. The competition is very high.”

[caption id="attachment_30062" align="alignleft" width="300"]01 Kajetan KAJETANOWICZ  Jarek BARAN Ford Fiesta R5 01 Kajetan KAJETANOWICZ Jarek BARAN Ford Fiesta R5[/caption]

Local rallying hero Luis Monzón returned to the ERC podium, matching his third place from the championship’s last visit to Gran Canaria in 2013. No longer suffering from the gearbox gremlins of Friday in his Michelin-equipped Citroën DS3 R5, Monzón was a frontrunner throughout the six stages that made up leg two and he beat Lukyunuk to win SS10.

Robert Consani had moved up into third place overall at the end of Friday but endured a torrid second day, which began with his Peugeot 208 T16 failing to start prior to the morning’s first stage. The Frenchman then battled brake issues throughout the day and was eventually classified seventh after three-and-a-half minutes of road penalties.

[caption id="attachment_30063" align="alignright" width="300"]04 Luis MONZÓN ARTILES José Carlos DÉNIZ HOLTTMAN Citroën DS3 R5 04 Luis MONZÓN ARTILES José Carlos DÉNIZ HOLTTMAN Citroën DS3 R5[/caption]

Poland’s Wojciech Chuchała starred throughout the rally in his Subaru Impreza STi, dominating the ERC2 class and also finishing a fine fifth overall behind Spanish Fiesta driver Jonathan Pérez. Jarosław Kołtun, in another Fiesta, was only 1.1s behind his fellow Polish driver Chuchała going onto the final stage but was forced to settle for sixth after stopping to change a tyre. Tenth overnight, János Puskádi ran first on the road during the second leg and climbed to eighth overall, just one position away from matching his best ever ERC finish from this same event in 2013.

Puskádi’s fellow ŠKODA Fabia R5 driver Hermen Kobus had dreams of a top-five finish and moved into that position on the day’s opening stage, but the Dutchman’s rally ended shortly afterwards when he crashed into a tree on SS9. Italian Giacomo Costenaro retired from top-five contention when hit by a power steering problem in his Peugeot 208 T16 early in the day. Tomasz Kasperczyk finished P10 in his Fiesta, benefiting when Iván Ares suffered a continuation of the braking issues that struck when he was running a fine fourth during Friday.

Chuchała dominates ERC2, Ranga steals second

[caption id="attachment_30067" align="alignleft" width="300"]20 Wojciech CHUCHALA Daniel DYMURSKI Subaru Impreza STI 20 Wojciech CHUCHALA Daniel DYMURSKI Subaru Impreza STI[/caption]

Wojciech Chuchała led ERC2 from start to finish, setting the best time on every stage and finishing 3m37.8s ahead of his nearest competitor, as well as taking fifth overall for the Subaru Poland Rally Team. While Chuchała was in command, a tight battle emerged for second place during leg two. Giacomo Scattolon (Italy) had held the position since the first stage on Friday but severe tyre wear during the morning loop had eroded an advantage of over 30s to Hungarian Péter Ranga, driving an older Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. The Hungarian cut the gap to Scattolon just 1.4s ahead of the final stage and then outpaced his rival by 6.1s in the decider to steal the place at the final opportunity. Argentina’s Juan Carlos Alonso was fourth on an unfamiliar surface ahead of Tibor Érdi (Hungary).

Habaj provides more Polish success in ERC3 Łukasz Habaj matched the efforts of his compatriot and fellow national champion Chuchała by sweeping the board in ERC3. Driving a Rallytechnology Peugeot 208 R2, Habaj more than doubled his advantage during the second leg of the rally to finish 2m36.8s clear in

[caption id="attachment_30064" align="alignright" width="300"]26 Lukasz HABAJ Piotr WOS Peugeot 208 VTI R2 26 Lukasz HABAJ Piotr WOS Peugeot 208 VTI R2[/caption]

15th overall. As well as supremacy from a Polish driver, another parallel between ERC2 and ERC3 was a close scrap for second until the end. Double Turkish champion Murat Bostanci held the position at the start of the day in his Ford Fiesta R2 but was passed by two-time ERC 2WD champion Zoltán Bessenyey on SS8. The Hungarian Renault Clio R3T driver held on, but the largest his margin grew to all day was the 4.3s gap at the finish – after the pair set identical times on the final stage. Habaj’s team-mate Tomasz Gryc claimed fourth ahead of four-time Slovenian champion Aleks Humar in a Clio R3T. Two more Polish drivers, Łukasz Pieniążek and Aleks Zawada, restarted for the second leg after being stopped on Friday by accident damage and a broken driveshaft respectively on their Opel Adam R2s, and were frequently the closest to Habaj in the stage times.

Visiting star Mads Østberg, currently second in the WRC standings, led until the final stage of day one on his ERC debut, before crashing his Fiesta R5 after experiencing brake fade. The Norwegian paid tribute to the high level of competition in the ERC, admitting that he had been pushing hard in an attempt to stay ahead.

PROVISIONAL TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 12 stages, 213 kilometres) 1 Alexey Lukyanuk (RUS)/Alexey Arnautov (RUS) Ford Fiesta R5….2h03m49.6s 2 Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL)/Jarosław Baran (POL) Ford Fiesta R5….+32.3s 3 Luis Monzón (ESP)/José Carlos Déniz (ESP) Citroën DS3 R5….+1m41.5s 4 Jonathan Pérez (ESP)/Alejandro López Fernández (ESP) Ford Fiesta R5….+2m44.0s 5 Wojciech Chuchała (POL)/Daniel Dymurski (POL) Subaru Impreza STi ….+5m27.0s 6 Jarosław Kołtun (POL)/Ireneusz Pleskot (POL) Ford Fiesta R5….+5m28.1s 7 Robert Consani (FRA)/Maxime Vilmot (FRA) Peugeot 208 T16….+6m40.1s 8 János Puskádi (HUN)/Barnabás Gódor (HUN) ŠKODA Fabia R5….+7m18.1s 9 Surhayen Pernía (ESP)/Juan Luis García (ESP) Renault Clio R3T….+7m48.7s 10 Tomasz Kasperczyk (POL)/Damian Syty (POL) Ford Fiesta R5….+8m01.4s FIA ERC2: Wojciech Chuchała (POL)/Daniel Dymurski (POL) Subaru Impreza STi FIA ERC3: Łukasz Habaj (POL)/Piotr Woś (POL) Peugeot 208 R2 RALLY LEADERS SS2-6: Mads Østberg SS7-8: Kajetan Kajetanowicz SS9-13: Alexey Lukyanuk STAGE WINNERS Day one (Friday 11 March, 108.48 kilometres): SS1: Cancelled for safety reasons SS2: Moya 1 (24.73kms): Østberg/Chuchała/Habaj SS3: Tejeda 1 (15.01kms): Kajetanowicz/Chuchała/Habaj SS4: Santa Lucía 1 (14.50kms): Kajetanowicz/Chuchała/Habaj SS5: Moya 2 (24.73kms): Kajetanowicz/Chuchała/Habaj SS6: Tejeda 2 (15.01kms): Kajetanowicz/Chuchała/Habaj SS7: Santa Lucía 2 (14.50kms): Lukyanuk/Chuchała/Habaj Day two (Saturday 12 March, 104.52 kilometres): SS8: Ingenio 1 (22.84kms): Kajetanowicz/Chuchała/Habaj SS9: Galdar 1 (13.97kms): Lukyanuk/Chuchała/Habaj SS10: Valleseco 1 (15.45kms): Monzón/Chuchała/Habaj SS11: Ingenio 2 (22.84kms): Kajetanowicz/Chuchała/Habaj SS12: Galdar 2 (13.97kms): Lukyanuk/Chuchała/Habaj SS13: Valleseco 2 (15.45kms): Lukyanuk/Chuchała/Habaj KEY STATISTICS ERC wins in 2016: Lukyanuk 1. ERC stage wins in 2016: Kajetanowicz 6, Lukyanuk 4, Østberg 1, Monzón 1.

AUTO - ERC ISLAS CANARIAS 2016Press conference

Q: Alexey, first of all, congratulations. Are you surprised to win after you said that your tyre choice on the first day was a disaster?

AL: Yes, actually, we did not expect to get this far. It was like a big surprise for us when I realised that we are in the lead. Yes, we did a lot of mistakes yesterday with tyres. We didn’t have any experience in this position, it’s all new for us and the tarmac is quite different here. It was hard to find the proper pace but finally we did it and mistakes which we made yesterday helped us to be wise today. Maybe we’re not the fastest but we managed our tyres well and it worked quite good for us.

Q: Kajetan, speaking of the tyre choices, what happened this morning on the loop of stages? Was it the wrong tyre choice or the wrong pressure, what happened?

KK: It was a good tyre choice but we did a few mistakes. We don’t know exactly for sure at this moment what exactly happened, but we’ve got a few things: tyre pressure was too high, cambers, my driving style. But as Alexey said, it was a new round for us also. These road conditions are really difficult for the tyres. Yesterday it was difficult to make a right tyre choice. Today the difficulty was to take care with them. We are really happy to be here because our tyres after the second stage in the morning were completely destroyed so it was really bad to drive and really dangerous, so I’m quite happy to be here.

Q: Luis, for you it was like two different rallies. Friday was very different from Saturday, what happened to you on both days?

LM: We had different problems on Friday because the car was new for me. I had a mistake in the first stage because when I arrived at a corner I lost control of the car. We had a different problem with the gearbox but on Saturday the mechanics changed the gearbox and at the end it was very comfortable but not very quick, but I’m very happy.

Q: Alexey, your first time here. How difficult was the rally and what was the most difficult thing?

AL: I don’t know what to say because now I’m so excited I don’t remember issues with the rally. OK, let’s go back in time. Of course for me the hardest thing is the conditions when it’s wet, damp or a changing surface in one stage, it’s too much for us, we don’t have experience. It’s not easy to find the proper pace to estimate the grip and feel it and in the end believe in this grip and push hard. So for me it’s much easier to go in dry conditions and finally we managed to show some good times in stable stages with good grip. OK, we’re learning and our progress is encouraging.

Q: Kajto, how about you, are you happy that you got your title defence off to a good start?

KK: Yes, I am happy. Of course I would like to win but it wasn’t easy. We had bad luck. For me it was good to experience this rally and you know that it was our first time here and it was not easy to find good rhythm, to fight with these crazy guys and also yesterday with Mads. So that’s why it was a really good rally for us. OK, maybe not in the morning but this is rallying, everything could happen. We are still trying to be better and better and we’ll see what we can do in Ireland. I hope we can be there, it’s 90 per cent that we will.

Q: You mentioned Mads Østberg. What does it say to you about the level of competition here in the ERC that you can have a fantastic driver like Mads, who is second in the world championship, come here and he has to fight very hard to be competitive against you guys?

AL: Mads retired too early and we don’t have the full picture, because of course there are a lot of things that maybe affected his result. He was arriving from Mexico late, he had no tests. But in the end he is a world class rally driver so it was a very good benchmark for us and as we saw, Kajto is capable of fighting with him and even of being faster. I was not that fast at that point but it’s possible to fight. It’s good to know. It’s quite good for the European championship because it shows that drivers here are really fast and I’m really happy he was here and sorry that he failed in this way, but OK, it emphasises that the rally is tough and our level is not that low, so we can compete with him also.

Q: Let’s just have a quick word with your co-drivers. First of all let’s talk to Alexey, the second Alexey. Alexey, how much does a win like this help you to find sponsorship and help you to find the support you need to go to do other rallies?

AA: We can only hope. It’s up to our sponsors and of course I have no real idea how it will work but I do believe it will help us in the future.

Q: Winning is the best thing, I think.

AA: Yes. I have one more thing for Ireland because I have to acquire a visa and I have too short time for that but hopefully I’ll manage.

Q: Let’s have a word with Jarek, sitting alongside Kajto. Looking ahead to Ireland, you were second on this occasion here, what about the first win of the season in Ireland, what do you think?

JB: It’s pretty nice. We try of course to do the best. Last year was a debut for us in Ireland but we finished second, close to Craig Breen. I don’t how different the stages will be this year but if they compare with the previous ones, I suppose we have good notes. That will be easier.

Q: Congratulations to our ERC2 and our ERC3 winners. Let’s start with Wojciech. You’re well known in Poland, now you start to make a name for yourself here. Were you surprised by such a dominant performance?

WC: Yes, we thought we were not prepared enough to win the rally so that’s the reason why we were a little bit shocked about that, about our speed, about everything going really, really well. I think we should thank mainly the team because the team have quite big experience in ERC, so we are glad to be in such a proper team in Subaru Poland Rally Team. We will push more in the next rallies, that is our aim. Our main aim is to be competitive in ERC2 but OK we will see what will happen. We still have a lot of rallies, we have still a lot of work to do. We are glad that drivers and teams from Poland were very competitive on the rally, not only us but also Kajto, also Łukasz who is a Polish champion also. So we are very happy with that, that we are so strong. A Polish rally family.

Q: You are driving for Subaru Poland which is the team where Kajto first became famous really. Do you think you can follow in his footsteps and one day take the European championship title?

WC: Yeah, it would be a dream. I am dreaming about that, but we have to look forward and work a lot. Maybe in the future it will be possible, we will be very glad if we can be competitive in overall classification. Even with a Group N car we were quite close because we finished fifth place in the ERC. It’s hard to say what we are thinking after that rally but we are very, very happy.

Q: You are leading the ERC2 standings, will we see you in Ireland?

WC: Yes, today we made the decision that we will go. OK, it’s not for sure but I think everything will go that way, that we will start in Ireland, so there we try and drive even faster. I think still it’s possible because honestly that rally was quite safe for us. We knew that the most important thing is to finish first, first you have to finish, so we were thinking about that all the time.

Q: Łukasz, congratulations. We were talking earlier on that the Polish rally family is very strong here. Why do you think we have so many fast drivers from Poland in ERC this year?

ŁH: Thank you, thank you very much. I don’t know. I’m also very happy and it shows that the competition level in Poland is quite high. Especially with Wojciech and Kajto, we come from the same region almost so it’s like really a rally family and we’ve known each other for quite a long time. So I don’t know, we just spend a lot of nights driving in the snow in the mountains, maybe that’s why.

Q: How was this rally for you? You were dominant again, you were really in control of this rally. What did you enjoy most about it?

ŁH: I think mostly we enjoyed great roads and great stages, great views and so many spectators. It really makes you more eager to drive when somebody’s watching. I think also we experienced different tarmac than in Poland, lots of grip, lots of experience about tyre choice and how they work with such tarmac. So lots of new stuff for us.

Q: Finally, can you tell us a little bit more about your plans for this season? Do we see you in Ireland and which other rallies will we see you in?

ŁH: Not in Ireland, we’re not going there, maybe only to watch the rally. But I hope to compete in Rally Estonia, for sure we’ll compete in Rally Rzeszow which is in Poland, because we’re going to compete in the Polish Rally Championship again this year, so this is also part of the Polish Rally Championship. I hope for Rally Barum also maybe, so hopefully two or three more rallies in ERC this year.

Press release FIA ERC]]>

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