Alexey Lukyanuk secured the win in the opening round of the 2020 FIA Euroepan Rally Championship, Rally di Roma Capitale, despite the best efforts of Giandomenico Basso.
2018 ERC champions Lukyanuk held off Basso despite the Italian setting eight out of nine faster stage times than the Citroen C3 driver throughout Sunday, with the gap being more than halfed from 34.1 seconds overnight to 16.1 seconds by the end of the final test.
But Basso had to settle for second overall with Oliver Solberg completing a fine drive to finish the event third on his first asphalt rally.
The young Swede managed to pull away from drivers including Craig Breen and Simone Tempestini early on Sunday to take home the ERC1 Junior class win, but was over a minute behind overall winner Lukyanuk.
Behind, Breen and Tempestini had a ding-dong battle for fourth throughout Sunday with the position switching hands four times and both drivers always being separated by just a handful of seconds.
However after Breen got ahead for a second time on the third passing of the Rocca di Cave stage, he went on hold off defending Romanian champion Tempestini once and for all with the pair being separated by just 1.3 seconds on the final leaderboard.
Reigning German Rally champion Fabian Kreim was the first of the leading drivers to hit problems after he retired on the opening stage of the day after damaing a wheel on his Skoda Fabia R5.
This promoted Efren Llarena and Grégoire Munster up the leaderbaord and into six and seventh overall by the end of the rally, with the top 10 rounded out by Filip Mareš, who just 48 hours ago had rolled on the qualifying stage, local competitor Rudy Michelini and Emil Lindholm.
The ERC3 Junior and ERC3 classes saw late drama as Pedro Antunes, who had got ahead of weekend-long rival Ken Torn on the first test of the final loop, crashed out of the event on the very last stage giving the Estonian driver the win.
The pair had been split by just 4.3 seconds going into the third running of Guarcino, but the Peugeot 208 driver’s accident meant the top three in ERC3 Junior were completed by Pep Bassas and Amaury Molle. Spaianrd Bassas was joined by Martin László in third in ERC3.
RGT Cup and Abarth Rally Cup honours in Italy went the way of Andrea Mabellini, with the Italian making almost making it a hat-trick of class wins if not for the Subaru Impreza of Zelindo Melegari who took the ERC2 win.
The next round of the 2020 FIA European Rally Championship is Rally Liepāja based in Latvia between August 14-16.