TWO OUT OF THREE FOR SIRMACIS AS LUKYANUK CRASHES R

Motor Sport News - - Erc Report - RE­SULTS Pho­tos: FIA ERC, Kevin Money Rally Es­to­nia, Euro­pean Rally Cham­pi­onship, round six of 10, July 15-17

alfs Sirmacis scored his sec­ond Euro­pean Rally Cham­pi­onship vic­tory from three starts af­ter Alexey Lukyanuk crashed on the penul­ti­mate stage of Rally Es­to­nia.

Lukyanuk had led from the begin­ning of the event, but his bid to re­peat his 2015 vic­tory ended in tat­ters when a steer­ing arm on his Ford Fi­esta R5 broke upon land­ing af­ter a jump, caus­ing him to rip a wheel off against a tree.

Sirmacis had matched Lukyanuk’s four stage wins on Satur­day but was 28 sec­onds be­hind the Rus­sian prior to his re­tire­ment. The 22-year-old Lat­vian, who won the Acrop­o­lis Rally in May on his de­but in a four-wheel-drive car, was forced to re­turn to his for­mer co-driver Maris Kulss for the event af­ter reg­u­lar nav­i­ga­tor Ar­turs Simins went down with a fever.

“It’s great to win but I’m a bit sad about how it hap­pened,” Sirmacis said. “I want to win in bat­tle, not be­cause Lukyanuk crashed.”

Reign­ing cham­pion Ka­je­tan Ka­je­tanow­icz had a muted run to sec­ond, un­able to match the pace of Lukyanuk and Sirmacis on an event they know well. A power steer­ing fail­ure on the last proper stage on Satur­day and a 10s penalty for be­ing late out of ser­vice af­ter a gear­box change con­trib­uted to him end­ing up 1m34.5s down on Sirmacis.

Lukyanuk had been poised to cut the gap to Ka­je­tanow­icz at the top of the stand­ings to just a sin­gle point, but the Fi­esta driver now takes a 37-point ad­van­tage to Rally Rzes­zow in his na­tive Poland next month.

Lo­cal driver Rainer Aus made the podium for the sec­ond year in a row in his Mit­subishi Lancer E9 and won ERC2 af­ter two years of play­ing sec­ond fid­dle to Lukyanuk. Com­pa­tri­ots Egon Kaur and Siim Plangi ran just ahead of him be­fore be­ing halted by en­gine and clutch is­sues re­spec­tively. Aus be­gan the fi­nal day close to Ka­je­tanow­icz but ended it only nar­rowly hold­ing onto third af­ter a rock broke his rear dif­fer­en­tial.

Raul Jeets, team-mate to Sirmacis in the Sports Rac­ing Tech­nolo­gies Skoda op­er­a­tion, matched his fourth place from the Acrop­o­lis on his home event, notch­ing up a win on the Elva street stage for the sec­ond year in suc­ces­sion. Pol­ish Fi­esta driv­ers Jaroslaw Koltun and Lukasz Habaj com­pleted the top six.

The at­tri­tion among the four-wheel- drive cars – which in­cluded Toy­ota pro­teges Hiroki Arai and Takamoto Kat­suta rolling their Tommi Maki­nen Rac­ing-en­tered Fi­es­tas (Kat­suta do­ing so again on his first stage af­ter restart­ing) – meant that ERC Ju­nior win­ner Miko Ni­ine­mae fin­ished sev­enth over­all on home soil.

Ju­nior points leader Chris In­gram sat third in the cat­e­gory for a while be­hind the du­elling Peu­geot driv­ers Ni­ine­mae and Niko­lay Gryazin, but by mov­ing up into 10th over­all on the Elva stage on Satur­day night meant he had to open the road on Sun­day – as the top 10 cars are re­versed for the fi­nal day in ERC rules – and fell be­hind Opel team-mate Mar­i­jan Griebel who ran 11th on the road.

There­fore, when Gryazin rolled out of con­tention, In­gram was un­able to con­tinue his streak of sec­ond-place fin­ishes, com­ing home 4.7s be­hind Griebel. He will take a re­duced mar­gin of 11 points over the Ger­man onto the penul­ti­mate Ju­nior event, Barum Czech Rally Zlin.

Gryazin’s older brother Vasily sur­vived a roll of his own to fin­ish the rally in 18th over­all on his re­turn to the ERC af­ter be­ing se­ri­ously in­jured in a road accident prior to last year’s Rally Es­to­nia.

DRIVER/CO-DRIVER

Ralfs Sirmacis/ Maris Kulss Ka­je­tan Ka­je­tanow­icz /Jarosław Baran Rainer Aus/simo Kosk­i­nen Raul Jeets/an­drus Toom Jarosław Koltun/ Ireneusz Pleskot Lukasz Habaj/piotr Wos Miko-ove Ni­ine­mae /Martin Val­ter Alexan­der Mikhaylov/nor­munds Kokins Mar­i­jan Griebel/ Pirmin Win­kl­hofer Chris In­gram/el­liott Ed­mond­sen

Lat­vian ben­e­fit­ted from Lukyanuk’s crash Sirmacis has two wins in three starts in Skoda Fabia R5

In­gram was ham­pered by run­ning first on the road on Sun­day

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