ERC battles rage but Alexey Lukyanuk in control after opening loop


Alexey Lukyanuk has moved three stages closer to winning Rally Fafe Montelongo by completing Sunday’s opening trio of runs out in front in the FIA European Rally Championship classification by 35.2s ahead of Iván Ares.

The Russian, whose Saintéloc Junior Team Citroën C3 R5 is co-driven by Dmitry Eremeev, reported a dislike of his car’s tyre “configuration” at the completion of SS12, despite going fastest through the run.

“We’re being careful, we are managing the gap so all is good,” said the Pirelli-equipped Lukyanuk. “It’s difficult in some places and you cannot see the dirt on the entry on some corners.”

Overnight rain has left some sections of the stages damp and muddy but the majority of the action is taking place in dry conditions.

Yoann Bonato is second in the absolute classification, 0.9s ahead of Ares, after going fastest of all through SS10. However, the Frenchman is not registered for ERC points. It means Grégoire Munter, who continues to top the ERC1 Junior table in his Hyundai i20 R5, is third among the ERC runners followed by MOL Racing Team’s Norbert Herczig (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) and ERC1 Junior rival Miko Marczyk (ORLEN Team Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo).

Dominik Dinkel is sixth with Erik Cais seventh and Surhayen Pernia eighth. The Hyundai Motor España driver is running first on the road through Sunday’s stages. Callum Devine, in ninth, reported a fuel pressure issues. Niki Mayr-Melnhof completes the top 10.

Tibor Érdi Jr’s dominance of the ERC2 category continues with the Hungarian having gone quickest in class on all 12 stages run so far. Dmitry Feofanov is second with Andrea Mabellini leading the Abarth Rally Cup section in third. Championship leader Zelindo Melegari, who is giving the Alpine A110 RGT its international debut on Rally Fafe Montelongo, restarted this morning after going off the road on SS6.

Pep Bassas and Ken Torn are just 5.5s apart in the Pirelli-supported ERC3 Junior Championship. Sergio Cuesta, making his first ERC appearance in a Ford Fiesta Rally4, restarted following his SS1 crash but was delayed by a puncture on SS11.

Oliver Solberg left service seven minutes late to allow his family team sufficient time to fit a replacement turbo and repair an oil leak. Having dropped out of contention for a podium finish yesterday afternoon, the Swede bounced back with the fastest time on SS11.

Craig Breen is back in action on Sunday following his SS8 exit. However, the Team MRF Tyres driver explained his struggling by having to use a replacement differential which was set up for wet conditions.

Efrén Llarena had been fifth in the ERC order at the end of Saturday’s action but with insufficient time to repair a broken exhaust manifold, the Rallye Team Spain driver was forced to retire.

Guillaume de Mevius crashed out on SS12, while Ekaterina Stratieva has stopped with a technical fault.


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