Kajetan Kajetanowicz blitzed the opposition in the opening round of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship by finishing fastest at all but one stages of the at the Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy.
The LOTOS Rally Team driver took his Ford Fiesta R5 to 10 of 10 stage wins on the opening day and only dropped the final day stage to Alexey Lukyanuk who charged from 23rd place to finish on the final step of the podium.
Heavy snowfall on the eve of the rally provided difficulties to the drivers and crews before the rally got under way, blanket snow on the tarmac stages made tyre choice hard.
With many drivers caught out by the tricky conditions Kajetanowicz and co-driver Jarek Baran took the initiative from the start, leading by 6.4 seconds after the opening stage before extending his advantage to nearly four minutes by the end of the first day; His performance also earned 100 ERC Ice Master points.
When Kajetanowicz crossed the finish line at the final stage his lead was more than seven minutes, “It’s the best weekend ever, it’s fantastic, amazing” he said, as he took 7000 Euros in prize money and topped the ERC Ice Master classification heading to round two in Latvia next month.
Robert Consani took his Peugeot 207 S2000 to a career-high second place as he did his best to conserve his tyres despite a scare on the opening day which saw a spin on SS8 and a puncture on SS9. The Frenchman takes home 6000 Euros as a result of his second place finish.
Belarus driver Lukyanuk won the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy as he stormed to a third place finish after losing nearly five minutes due to his Ford Fiesta R5 overheating. Despite dropping to 23rd place he would go on to record the second fastest times on 15 of 17 stages plus the fastest time on the final stage.
Jaromír Tarabus was unlucky to miss out on third place as he started the final stage 8.5 seconds ahead of Lukyanuk, the Czech’s ŠKODA Fabia S2000 struggled with grip throughout and would finish the rally 20.7 seconds down.
Local driver Martin Fischerlehner took his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX to fifth place ahead of Jonathan Hirschi in his Peugeot 208 T16 who covered more stage kilometres than anyone else due to a huge overshoot around a house. His efforts were rewarded though when he took sixth place away from Antonín Tlusták in his ŠKODA Fabia S2000 by just 2.8s.
ERC2 class winner Vojtech Štajf took eighth overall in his Subaru Impreza WRX STI ahead of rival Dávid Botka in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. Jean-Michel Raoux finished in tenth place despite not being able to test his Ford Fiesta R5 before the event.
Craig Breen restarted under Rally 2 rules after suffering an accident on SS1. “It was a 10kph accident,” said Breen. “I got it slowed down and was halfway round the corner but as I got back on the power I lost grip and the front of the car spun round. There was no damage but it was stuck on the sumpguard and we couldn’t move.
“The stage was going really well and we were doing the best job we could with the grip we had. I was really enjoying the conditions, they were consistent and I felt under control. I’m gutted to go out on the first stage of the year but I’ve got to put it to the back of my mind and get on with it.”
Breen would put the first day behind him to finish fifth fastest of the day two runners, albeit outside of final classification in his Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16.
PROVISIONAL TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 18 stages, 237.80 kilometres)
- Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL)/Jarek Baran (POL) Ford Fiesta R5 2h50m52.6s
- Robert Consani (FRA)/Maxime Vilmot (FRA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +7m07.4s
- Alexey Lukyanuk (BLR)/Yevhen Chervonenko (BLR) Ford Fiesta R5 +8m28.1s
- Jaromír Tarabus (CZE)/Daniel Trunkát (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 +8m48.8s
- Martin Fischerlehner (AUT)/Tobias Unterweger (AUT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +22m38.6s*
- Jonathan Hirschi (CHE)/Vincent Landais (FRA) Peugeot 208 T16 +27m26.9s
- Antonín Tlusták (CZE)/Ladislav Kucera (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 +27m29.7s
- Vojtech Štajf (CZE)/František Rajnoha (CZE) Subaru Impreza WRX STI +28m18.6s
- Dávid Botka (HUN)/Péter Mihalik (HUN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX +30m38.5s
- Jean-Michel Raoux (FRA)/Thomas Escartefigue (FRA) Ford Fiesta R5 +35m00.5s
*Non-registered ERC crew, not eligible for ERC2 points
FIA ERC2: Vojtech Štajf (CZE)/František Rajnoha (CZE) Subaru Impreza WRX STI
FIA ERC3: Slawomir Ogryzek (POL)/Jakub Wróbel (POL) Peugeot 208 R2 +
ERC Ladies’ Trophy: Martina Danhelová (CZE)/Karolína Jugasová (CZE) Renault Clio Sport
Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy: Alexey Lukyanuk (BLR)