Alexey Lukyanuk secured the Rally Di Roma Captiale win to help get his 2018 FIA European Rally Championship title challenge back on track.
The Russian driver in the Russian Performance Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5 was being chased down by two-time ERC champion Giandomenico Basso throughout Sunday’s final day of action, but the Italian couldn’t close the gap and eventually finished 7.5s behind him in a Skoda Fabia R5.
Behind the leading duo was Polish driver Grzegorz Grzyb who took advantage of other drivers around him retiring and hitting problems across the event to secure the final step on the podium. The Pole had been battling with Paolo Andreucci, but the Peugeot 208 T16 R5 driver retied on stage 13 on Sunday afternoon.
Behind Grzyb was the impressive Fabian Kreim, who finished fourth overall along with winning the ERC Junior U28 class for the first time in 2018. The young German driver was competitive at the front of the overall field throughout the event and possibly could have pushed Grzyb further if he hadn’t chosen to focus on gaining vital championship points in his class.
Fifth in Italy went to championship leader Bruno Magalhães who was satisfied to salvage a strong result after struggling with his Fabia R5 throughout Saturday’s stages. Changing the anti-roll bars during service on Saturday improved the pace of the car, but his engine began cutting out on Saturday afternoon, again costing him precious time. He now leads the overall championship by 15 points over Lukyanuk.
British driver Chris Ingram took his first ERC overall stage win on the way to sixth overall and second in ERC Junior U28 after storming drive on Sunday. The returning Brit, who was forced to retire midway through the Rally Islas Canarias after becoming seriously unwell, managed to leapfrog Finn Juuso Nordgren on the penultimate stage of the rally after making up over 50s across Sunday. Fredrik Åhlin, Marco Pollara and Orhan Avcioğlu rounded out the top 10 overall.
Third in ERC Junior U28 was Swede Åhlin who along with Ingram had suffered from a puncture on Saturday but recovered on Sunday to take his second podium in a row in the class. Jan Černý took fourth with BRC frontrunner Rhys Yates finishing fifth and was another driver to suffer a puncture on Saturday.
Nikolay Gryazin took sixth after suffering from an engine fire along with power steering issues on Saturday, before the young Russian’s gearbox failed on stage nine and he retired from the remainder of leg one’s action. He did recover by setting a string of fast times on Sunday and collected vital championship points as a result.
Mārtiņš Sesks led home a ADAC Opel Junior Rallye Team 1-2 in the ERC Junior Under 27 class with teammate Tom Kristensson holding off a charging Efrén Llarena to complete the dream result for the German team.
Llarena had struggled with his Peugout 208 R2 that he believed was underpowered across the first leg of stages on Saturday, but the car was seemingly cured on Sunday and this enabled him to close the gap to the Swede. But Kristensson held on by just 7.8s.
Italian Mattia Vita finished fourth in class ahead of Brit Catie Munnings and Czech driver Dominik Brož who restarted on Sunday morning after crashing out on the first leg. Tibor Érdi Jr won ERC2 to make it three class wins in a row, while Munnungs beat Emma Falcón to the ERC Ladies’ Trophy win.
The next round of the 2018 FIA European Rally Championship is the Barum Czech Rally Zlín which takes place between August 24-26.