Gryazin Fastest, Magalhães Fuming After Rally di Roma Opener

by Alasdair Lindsay

Nikolay Gryazin went fastest through the opening supserspecial stage of Rally di Roma Capitale, leading the ERC field heading into Leg One amongst controversy between title rivals Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Bruno Magalhães.

While Gryazin edged to fastest ERC time over fellow U28 competitor Jan Černý by only a tenth of a second, championship leader Kajetanowicz drew the ire of Magalhães after accidentally punting a tyre stack into the middle of the road, forcing the Portuguese driver into avoiding action on the following lap.

A frustrated Magalhães decried the absence of stewards to reset the position of the tyres before he passed through, and blamed a combination of the tyres and technical gremlins with his Skoda Fabia for losing time.

“Kajto touched some tyres and they appeared in the middle of the road,” he said. “I had to go around a lost some time. In the start we lost the power completely, I don’t know why. It was the same like in the free practice.”

Sandwiched by the two juniors and title protagonists with the fourth quickest time was Alexey Lukyanuk, who continued to struggle working the pedals of his Fiesta due to lingering issues stemming from a testing crash in May.

While Gryazin led the ERC contingent, Campionato Italiano Rally competitor Umberto Scandola stormed to the overall classification lead The semi-works Skoda driver was widely tipped to compete toe-to-toe with his European counterparts, having won the Fiuggi-based event in its last two iterations.

The narrow, winding nature of the superspecial with tight hairpins caught out many drivers, with many clipping the barriers lining the stage. Seventh quickest Bryan Bouffier was lucky to get away with clattering the wall, while eighth fastest José António Suárez took a deliberately cautious approach, referencing Kris Meeke‘s accident in the opening test of Rally Germany as causing him to be afraid to push.

Zelindo Melegari‘s hopes of wrapping up the ERC-2 category title at his home event suffered a minor setback, a poor stage by the Italian putting him five seconds down on the fastest Group N car of Sergei Remennik. Melegari’s untidy run put him last in ERC-2, with his only title rival Tibor Érdi two tenths off the pace sent by Remennik.

Chris Ingram took first blood in the tightly contested Junior U27 category, going head to head with title rival Aleks Zawada through the superspecial. Ingram went four tenths faster than nearest R2 rival Filip Mareš, with Zawada slotting into third place, just under a second off the Brit’s pace.

Jari Huttunen set the same stage time as Zawada, despite being hampered by a faulty handbrake in a stage filled with tight hairpin bends.

Catie Munnings leads the Ladies Trophy category, as trophy leader Tamara Molinaro struggled with the multiple hairpins in the stage during her run. Unable to get the car rotated fully and needing to reverse twice, she dropped four seconds.

Emma Falcon fared even worse, having the same problem as Molinaro first time around before a spin on the following pass.

“I think I need to practise the hairpins,” Falcon said at stage end. “It was probably the worst stage in my life. It was bad, I hope it will be better tomorrow.”

ERC Overall Classification

PosDriver / Co-DriverCarClassTime
1Nikolay Gryazin
Yaroslav Fedorov
Škoda Fabia R5U281:47.9s
2Jan Černý
Petr Černohorský
Škoda Fabia R5U28+0.1s
3Grzegorz Grzyb
Jakub Wróbel
Škoda Fabia R5+0.7s
4Alexey Lukyanuk
Alexey Arnautov
Ford Fiesta R5+1.3s
5Kajetan Kajetanowicz
Jarosław Baran
Ford Fiesta R5+1.9s
6Bruno Magalhães
Hugo Magalhães
Škoda Fabia R5+2.0s
7Bryan Bouffier
Xavier Panseri
Ford Fiesta R5+2.2s
8Pepe López
Borja Rozada
Peugeot 208 T16U28+2.5s
9José António Suárez
Cándido Carrera
Peugeot 208 T16U28+2.7s
10Simone Tempestini
Sergiu-Sebastian Itu
Citroën DS3 R5+3.1s

ERC-2 Classification

PosDriver / Co-DriverCarTime
1Sergei Remennik
Mark Rozin
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X1:53.8s
2Tibor Érdi
György Papp
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X+0.2s
3Zelindo Melegari
Maurizio Barone
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX+5.0s

ERC Under 28 Classification

PosDriver / Co-DriverCarTime
1Nikolay Gryazin
Yaroslav Fedorov
Škoda Fabia R51:47.9s
2Jan Černý
Petr Černohorský
Škoda Fabia R5+0.1s
3Pepe López
Borja Rozada
Peugeot 208 T16+2.5s
4José António Suárez
Cándido Carrera
Peugeot 208 T16+2.7s
5Stéphane Consani
Valentin Salmon
Ford Fiesta R5+3.2s

ERC Under 27 Classification

PosDriver / Co-DriverCarTime
1Chris Ingram
Ross Whittock
Opel Adam R22:00.6s
2Filip Mareš
Jan Hloušek
Peugeot 208 R2+0.4s
3Aleks Zawada
Grzegorz Dachowski
Opel Adam R2+0.9s
4Jari Huttunen
Antti Linnaketo
Opel Adam R2+0.9s
5Karel Kupec
Vladimír Osička
Peugeot 208 R2+2.4s

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