Bruno Magalhães won the Azores Airlines Rallye ahead of Marijan Griebel and Josh Moffett in the first round of the 2017 FIA European Rally Championship.
The Portuguese driver took the victory over 90 seconds ahead of the young German Griebel after overnight leader Alexey Lukyanuk broke a steering arm on his Ford Fiesta R5 on the second stage on the final day of action and would retire as a result.
Magalhaes was delighted with his victory. He said: “I didn’t expect that, it is just amazing, just perfect and thanks to my sponsors who gave me this opportunity, to my family and everybody in the team”
Day one leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz would return to the top of the timesheets on the final day after retiring on Friday just miles into the opening stage of the day. The Polish driver won three out of the last six stages of the rally and would pick up six bonus championship points because of his performance on the final day.
Defending ERC Junior champion Griebel won the ERC Under 28 class because of his strong finish overall and took a stage win on SS12 in the process. His pace was also proven by the fact that he finished over three minutes ahead of third placed Moffett.
Griebel said on his victory: “It was nearly a perfect rally for me winning ERC Junior Under 28, and a lot of fun. I had a great car and thanks to Baumschlager Rallye & Racing and to my sponsors, this is amazing”.
Behind Moffett, Spaniard José María López in a Peugeot 208 T16 finished third in class and fourth overall with original leader of the class, Nikolay Gryazin finishing fifth overall and fourth in Under 28 after a puncture and then power steering issues with his Skoda Fabia R5.
Pedro Meireles took sixth, Ralfs Simmins finished seventh followed by João Barros in eighth and Carlos Viera in ninth with Miguel Barbosa completing the top 10 overall.
In the competitive ERC Junior U27 class, Jari Huttunen looked set to take the win ahead of teammate and leader for the first two days of the rally Chris Ingram after Ingram’s Vauxhall Adam R2 hit gearbox issues. But just meters away from the finish line Huttunen’s driveshaft failed and Ingram was able to finish the stage and take the win.
The Brit admitted about his win: ““Massive respect for Jari for how well he’s driven on his first time here. It’s my fourth time here and for him to be on our pace is very impressive and fair play. It was a comfortable drive until we had some problems towards the end but we won in the end.”
As Huttunen retired on the final stage, this promoted Aleksander Zawada into second in the class and Fillip Mareš into third. ERC3 saw the same podium results with Ingram taking the win ahead of Zawada and Mareš.
ERC2 saw a commanding win for Luis Pimentel and the ERC Ladies class saw a sole finisher with Tamara Molinaro taking the victory in her Opel Adam R2.
The next round of the 2017 FIA European Rally Championship takes place at the Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés in Spain between May 4-6.