ERC: CANARY ISLANDS RALLY LUKYANUK WINS AMID ATTRITION
Ostberg, Kajetanowicz hit trouble. By Peter Allen
Alexey Lukyanuk made it backto-back victories in the European Rally Championship by winning the opening round of 2016 in the Canary Islands after Mads Ostberg and Kajetan Kajetanowicz hit trouble.
Ostberg, making his ERC debut thanks to a deal struck following a holiday in the Canaries, led through much of the first day after beating Lukyanuk by a tenth of a second to win the opening stage.
Defending champion Kajetanowicz won four consecutive stages to chip away at his 10-second deficit to Ostberg, reducing the gap to 6.9s prior to the day’s final stage when the Norwegian crashed on a tight left-hander after experiencing brake fade on his Ford Fiesta R5.
With Ostberg out, Kajetanowicz had a 22.7s overnight lead over Lukyanuk, which the Pole extended further by winning SS8 on Saturday morning.
However, he suffered extreme tyre wear over the morning loop and dropped over a minute relative to Lukyanuk across the next two stages. Kajetanowicz initially put this down to setting his tyre pressures too high, but later suspected a number of factors were to blame.
Russian driver Lukyanuk, who had lost time on Friday when he picked too soft a tyre for the conditions, now inherited the lead with a 36.7s advantage. Kajetanowicz won the first of the afternoon’s stages but Lukyanuk replied with two more wins of his own to secure victory by 32.7s.
Lukyanuk, who currently lacks the budget to contest the full season ( see above), became the first driver to win consecutive events spanning two seasons in recent ERC history after triumphing in Valais last October.
Ostberg’s demise promoted Robert Consani into a podium position but the Frenchman only held the place overnight before suffering a series of problems on the Peugeot 208 T16 he was using on this event. Trouble getting the car started in the morning led to road penalties and he also struggled with his brakes for much of the day, finishing up down in seventh.
That allowed local ace Luis Monzon to make the podium, just as he did on the ERC’S last visit to his home island of Gran Canaria three years ago. He experienced gearbox gremlins in his Citroen DS 3 R5 on Friday but was up to full speed on Saturday, breaking the Fiesta’s stranglehold with a win on SS10.
The fastest Spaniard early in the rally had been Ivan Ares, who was making it a top-four lockout for Fiestas behind Ostberg, Kajetanowicz and Lukyanuk, but a broken anti-rollbar, brake problems and a puncture dropped him down the order.
Dutchman Hermen Kobus was in the top five when he crashed his Skoda into a tree on Saturday’s second stage, while Federico Della Casa and Giacomo Costenaro were halted by mechanical failures. Reigning ERC2 champion David Botka suffered a nightmare step up to an R5 Citroen but did make the finish under Rally 2 rules.
Another ‘local’ driver, Jonathan Perez, eventually took fourth place in his Fiesta ahead of Wojciech Chuchala, who starred in his Subaru Poland-entered Impreza to dominate the ERC2 class and beat compatriot Jaroslaw Koltun (Fiesta) to fifth overall.
There was a final-stage switch for second in ERC2 when Hungarian Peter Ranga overhauled fellow Mitsubishi driver Giacomo Scattolon, but they were over three-and-a-half minutes down on Chuchala. Another Polish star Lukasz Habaj led ERC3 from start to finish in his Peugeot 208 R2.