Alexey Lukyanuk will take a 34.1 seconds lead over Giandomenico Basso going into Sunday’s action on Rally di Roma Capitale.
Lukyanuk won all six of the day’s stages despite the best efforts from the chasing pack including Basso and ERC1 Junior leader Oliver Solberg, who’s second loop pace saw him climb from fifth to third overall by the end of Saturday’s action.
WRC3 regular Solberg, making his first appearance in a full tarmac event, could have been further up the leaderboard if not for a bizarre incident saw him lose his glasses before the start of the second stage and drop time in SS2 as a result. Luckily, they were found, repaired and he continued with the rest of the day’s action.
The opening day of the 2020 FIA European Rally Championship was eventful to say the least, with several drivers hitting problems. Less than 3km into stage one, predicted front-runner this weekend Andrea Crugnola crashed out in his Citreon C3 R5 and blocked the stage as a result.
Stage two was also held up, as M-Sport Ford driver Adrien Fourmaux rolled out the MK2 Fiesta R5, again causing a stage stoppage and as a result, the afternoon loop was delayed by two hours.
A close battle is developing for the last podium spot, as Solberg, Simeone Tempestini, Fabian Kreim and Craig Breen who dropped from fourth to sixth on the last stage of the day, are all separated by just 12.6 seconds.
The top 10 at the end of day one is completed by Grégoire Munster, who leapfrogged Efrén Llarena on the final stage, Giacomo Scattolon and the second MRF Tyres driver, Emil Lindholm.
The fastest R2/Rally4 competitor is Junior WRC regular Ken Torn who is being chased by Pedro Antunes. Peugeot 208 driver Antunes appears to be catching the young Estonian going into Sunday, with the gap down to 11.2 seconds overnight.
Behind in ERC3 Junior, their closest competitor is Josep Bassas Mas, but the young Spaniard is over three minutes adrift in third. Experienced driver Zelindo Melegari leads ERC2, 50.8 seconds ahead of Andrea Mabellini who also is the fastest Abarth Rally Cup competitor.
Tomorrow in Italy sees a further nine stages totaling 100.8km, with coverage from the rally continuing here on The Checkered Flag.