Lukyanuk Doubles Up in 2018

by Steven Batey

Alexey Lukyanuk secured his second win of the 2018 FIA European Rally Championship on the Rally Islas Canarias last weekend.

The Russian driver, who has now won the event for a third time in three years, secured a dominating victory by 51.4s over ERC Junior U28 winner Nikolay Gryazin in second and German Fabian Kreim in third.

Leading the event from start to finish, Lukyanuk took 10 stage wins on his way to his second win of the season that gives him a commanding 41 point advantage over Portugese driver Bruno Magalhaes in the championship standings.

Lukyanuk said on his win: “We were winning a lot of stages and showing good confidence. We had some worries that the young drivers here would push really hard but we managed to do a good job, the weather was okay for us, the starting position was very clever and helped us to maintain a good speed.”

 Photo Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

Behind the Russian Performance Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5 driver was Gryazin who took the Junior U28 win ahead of Kreim, with the Russian approaching the event with a ‘cautious’ approach.

The final step on the podium went down to the final stage of the event with Kreim battling with Spanish driver José Antonio Suárez for third, with the pair trading positions across the 14 stages. But it was Kreim who held on to take third by 18.9s.

British driver Chris Ingram, who was set to contest the event as part of his Under 28 campaign in 2018, was forced to withdraw due to medical reasons after just three stages.

Fifth overall and following closely behind Suárez was ERC Experience graduate Laurent Pellier in just his second ERC appearance in a R5-spec car. The top six was rounded out by Grzegorz Grzyb.

Photo Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

The ERC Junior U27 class, open to drivers under the age of 27 and in R2 machinery saw Diogo Gago take his second win in two events, but was made to work for it by both Mārtiņš Sesks and Spanish driver Efrén Llarena in a close battle across the weekend.

It was Sesks who gained the initial advantage in his first appearance on tarmac, but soon Gago responded and moved into the lead after the opening stage on Saturday morning, but with only just over a second covering all three drivers, it was still anybody’s rally.

However the next stage would prove heartbreaking for Llarena as in an attempt to gain as much time as possible, he cut a right-hander only for him to clip a tree and take off his front-right wheel. Gago for the rest of the event continued to build his lead over Sesks, before eventually taking the win by 11.0s.

With Llarena out, this promoted Simon Wagner into third ahead of Swede Tom Kristensson and Roberto Blach in fifth.

Photo Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

ERC2 driver Tibor Érdi Jr made amends for his retirement in round one of the championship on the Azores Airlines Rallye with a comfortable win this time around in Spain as his rivals including Juan Carlos Alonso and Zelindo Melegari hit problems. Only Sergei Remennik’s final stage win prevented Érdi Jr from making it a clean sweep of stage victories. Emma Falcón beat Catie Munnings to the ERC Ladies’ Trophy win.

Round three of the 2018 FIA European Rally Championship is the EKO Acropolis Rally between June 1-3.

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