Russian driver Alexey Lukyanuk has already established himself as the favourite driver for victory on the final round of the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship, the CNP Asfalistiki Cyprus Rally after he won the Qualifying stage and the opening two tests of the event and goes into day two with the lead of almost 30 seconds over Nikolay Gryazin, with Marijan Griebel a close third.
Lukyanuk posted a time of 2m43.176s on the 4.48-kilometre qualifying stage, which like most of the stages in Cyprus included a mixture of gravel and asphalt. Gryazin began his second start in the top flight of the ERC with second fastest time just 0.8 seconds off Lukyanuk with David Botka impressing in third.
The action properly got underway with SS1, the 11.35-kilometre DHL Stavrovouni test. Lukyanuk set fastest time but ERC Junior champion Griebel stole the show setting second fastest time, just 4.0 seconds off the Russian. Christos Demosthenous, went third with Gryazin in fourth. Ralfs Sirmacis was a disappointing seventh over 25 seconds slower than Lukyanuk.
There was drama to follow on SS2 as Lukyanuk narrowly escaped an off road excursion sustaining minor damage to his Ford Fiesta R5. “It was a blind corner over a crest, and I lost the rear of the car. I had no idea where I was going, it was a scary moment to be honest,” said the Russian, who despite this set a time over 17 seconds faster than anyone else.
Griebel didn’t manage a trouble free run either as the German lost time with an overshoot and subsequent stall, where he “lost maybe 15 seconds”. He slipped to third overall behind fellow Škoda-driving ERC Junior graduate Gryazin, the Russian had a better run and ends the day 28.3 seconds behind the leader. Demosthenous holds fourth and the ERC2 lead. Sirmacis ended the day sixth after struggling t0 find a rhythm in the dark. ERC3 is led by Murat Bostanci.
Eight stages great crews tomorrow as the tackles the longest day of the event.