European Rally Championship

Lukyanuk Leads In Estonia As Sirmacis Impresses

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Russian driver Alexey Lukyanuk extended his advantage on day two of the auto24 Rally Estonia, round six of the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship, in his Ford Fiesta R5 but he didn’t have it all his own way as the championship contender had to withstand pressure from Latvian driver Ralfs Sirmacis  who is once again impressing in the ERC’s top category.

The two drivers exchanged times as Lukyanuk was fastest on the first attempt at the four gravel tests for the day but Sirmacis managed to set fastest time on the repeat runs. At the end of the day the pair were separated by just 20.1 seconds with their nearest competitor, reigning ERC champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz, over a minute behind.

Kajetanowicz had a frustrating day, the Pole was right in contention at the halfway point of the leg but received a ten second penalty for being late out of service after a gearbox change. The 2015 champion then lost power steering on SS9 and ended the day almost a minute and a half off the leader. Young Japanese duo Takamoto Katsuta and Hiroki Arai, who are backed by Toyota, entered by Tommi Mäkinen Racing and run by Markko Märtin’s MM-Motorsport operation,  both rolled their Fiesta R5s on their debuts in the ERC.

Local driver Rainer Aus is dominating in the ERC2 category and finds himself fourth overall in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. The Estonian is over 14 minutes ahead of Mait Maarend who is in an Evo X. The ERC Junior Rally is a tighter affair with the top four separated by just 44 seconds. The top three in the class also finished the day in the top ten of the overall standings which means that Chris Ingram will be the  first car on the road for the last leg.

It was Miko-Ove Niinemae who once again impressed in his Peugeot 208 R2 winning seven of the nine stages to extend his advantage over Nikolay Gryazin who is in a similar machine, to 10.2 seconds. The Russian driver won two of today’s stages to remain in touching distance. Britain’s Chris Ingram won the stage to sit 32.8 seconds off the lead. Six more stages greet competitors for the final leg on the auto24 Rally Estonia.

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Guest Contributor here at The Checkered Flag who will be predominantly covering the 2015 European Rally Championship I also cover the World Rally Championship on occasion. Can be found on Twitter at @matthewmcmahon5
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