If Friday’s action was action packed on round four of the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship, the Azores Airlines Rallye, the final leg proved to be dramatic to say the least. It was local driver Ricardo Moura in his Ford Fiesta R5 who took a sensational win after Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Alexey Lukyanuk hit problems. The Azorean driver won the event by 26.8 seconds.
Lukyanuk came into the event with a 9.8 second lead over Kajetanowicz but that was extended to 43 seconds when the Pole sustained a broken driveshaft on the first test of the day. Lukyanuk didn’t have everything his own way however and a spin on the next stage cost him 22.5 seconds but he remained 25.3s clear of Moura going into the final loop of three stages and on course for victory on his first time in the Azores.
There as further drama however for the Russian driver when a loose turbo pipe dropped him to second 42.7 seconds behind Moura. The Russian tried to fight back but it wasn’t enough over the final two stages and he had to settle for second. Kajetnowicz had to reflect on what might have been and had to settle for third, David Botka recorded his best finish since stepping up to the top tier of the ERC with fourth. He finished just 5.6 seconds ahead of Jaroslav Orsák, and that gap was more than accounted for by a ten-second penalty handed to the Czech driver for being late into the final stage following a puncture on the penultimate test.
Pedro Meireles took sixth finishing just 2.1 seconds Luís Rego in seventh, Jose Pedro Fontes, Ricardo Teodosio and Antonín Tlusťák rounded out the top ten. In ERC 2 Wojciech Chuchala reeled in overnight leader Ruben Rodrigues to take the lead on SS14. The Pole won the event by well over a minute.
In the ERC Junior series it was a first win for Diogo Gago on his return to the championship, the Portuguese driver on Saturday’s opening stage and held it until the end, winning the event by 1:20.5 from Credit: FOTOSPEEDY.
The next round of the series takes crews to Belgium for the iconic Ypres Rally.