2018 Rally Poland: Gryazin Wins as Lukyanuk Secures Title

by Steven Batey

Nikolay Gryazin took his second FIA European Rally Championship win on Rally Poland last weekend ahead of series returnee Jari Huttunen and Chris Ingram as Alexey Lukyanuk won the 2018 championship.

Russian Lukyanuk had all but won the ERC title coming into this weekend after championship rival Bruno Magalhães withdrew from the remainder of the season with budgetary issues.

The Russian Performance Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5 driver completed his championship win despite only competing on three stages before misjudging a jump and damaging the right rear corner of the car after hitting a tree.

At the front of the field, it was Gryazin who held off a charging Huttunen as the 2017 ERC Under 27 runner-up made his first appearance in the 2018 ERC. The Finn suffered a 10s penalty after arriving late to SS14 and despite his best efforts with a triple stage win on Sunday afternoon, he had to settle for second and 8.3s behind Gryazin.

Photo Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

As the young Russian took the win both overall as well in ERC Junior Under 28, his rivals in the class also finished strongly. British driver Chris Ingram continued his strong season with a third place finish in Poland, albeit over two minutes behind the leaders.

Inrgam held off U28 championship leader coming into the event Fabian Kreim who finished fourth overall and third in U28 and now trails both of his rivals in the championship standings with one round left. Gryazin leads by seven points following his victory in Poland, with young German driver Kreim one point adrift of Ingram in third.

Fifth overall and fourth in ERC U28 was debutant Miko Marczyk who finished strongly on his home event. He finished ahead of Polish Rally Championship rival and more experienced ERC driver Łukasz Habaj who rounded out the top six.

Photo Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

As well as Lukyanuk securing the overall title in Poland, another championship was won as Mārtiņš Sesks secured the ERC Junior U27 title despite crashing twice across the weekend. ADAC Opel Rallye Junour Team teammate Tom Kristensson made the day even better for the team as he took his maiden win in the class.

With a round remaining, Sesks sits 21 points ahead of teammate Kristensson and is therefore unstoppable from winning the championship in his first full year in the class.

The event in Poland saw Kristensson hold off a charging Efrén Llarena who despite a comeback on day two, finished 13.1s behind in second. Miika Hokkanen rounded out the top three and took his first class podium, while Catie Munnings completed the event as the sole entrant in the ERC Ladies Trophy and Marcin Słobodzian finished 12th overall and was the only entrant in ERC2.

The battle for the ERC Junior U28 category will go down to the final round, Rally Liepāja, which takes place between October 12-14.

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