Race Reviews

Lukyanuk draws first blood of 2021 FIA ERC season

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(20.06.2021) Aleksey Lukyanuk (Citroen C3 Rally2) repeated his success from 2019 season and won Polish ERC counter for the second time in his career. Reigning ERC champion, co-driven by Aleksey Arnautov, showed fast and consistent pace on every special stage of the rally. Russian driver took the lead after SS 7 and kept 1st position until the finish. Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Floene finished 2nd, 18,4 s behind winners. ORLEN Team driver Mikolaj Marczyk (Skoda Fabia Rally2) scored his maiden ERC podium finish in his only 9th outing in this series. Moreover, Marczyk and his co-driver Szymon Gospodarczyk, were the fastest in ProfiAuto Polish Rally Championship classification, increasing their lead in series standings. 

LUKYANUK Alexey (RUS), ARNAUTOV Alexey (RUS), SAINTELOC JUNIOR TEAM, citroen C3, portrait during the 2021 FIA ERC Rally Poland, 1st round of the 2021 FIA European Rally Championship, from June 18 to 20, 2021 in Mikolajki, Poland – Photo Bastien Roux / DPPI

77th edition of Rally Poland (18-20th of June), marked event’s 100th anniversary. Mikolajki-based rally was an opening round of FIA European Rally Championship and second round of ProfiAuto Polish Rally Championship. There were an impressive number of 102 crews on the entry list, including stunning 44 in Rally2/R5 machinery, which are the fastest cars eligible both in FIA ERC and RSMP.

Top European and Polish crews competed during three, hot summer days. Not a single raindrop fell, and rally cars blasted through fast Masurian stages leaving spectacular clouds of dirt and dust.

ORLEN 77th Rally Poland began with dominant performance of Nikolay Gryazin and Konstantin Aleksandrov (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5). 2018 Rally Poland winners took the lead already after first stage was held at Mikolajki Arena (2,5 km). On Saturday morning Russian duo was increasing their lead in impressive pace, winning stage after stage. After SS 6 they were already 40,5 s ahead of second-placed Lukyanuk and Arnautow (Citroen C3 Rally2), while another Rally Poland winner Andreas Mikkelsen (Skoda Fabia Rally2, co-driver: Ola Floene) was nearly a minute behind in 3rd place.

Gryazin’s hopes of a second victory on Poland’s round of the FIA European Rally Championship ended on the second pass of Wieliczki test (28,7 km). Russian driver was forced to retire after suffering double-front puncture. Having only one spare, he was not able to reach service park, as driving on public roads on rims is forbidden.

It was Lukyanuk who took the lead, with Mikkelsen and Marczyk promoted to 2nd and 3rd respectively. 25-year-old Marczyk was the top-placed Pole in event’s standings. Lukyanuk covered following stages just like not him. Two-time ERC champion was mature and consistent, yet still very fast. He avoided mistakes and tuned his pace, just like he currently needed. – Before the rally it was extreme, like a movie but it turned out with a victory with the toughest challenge, with very fast drivers around and with very hard roads. I’m just happy to be on the first spot today – said Lukyanuk at the finish line of final stage.

– I am happy with the second place, Alexey was driving well. We did some progress with the car so we can be satisfied – summarized Mikkelsen, who eventually came 2nd overall.

This is like a dream, I’m happy. We work all the time to be better and this rally showed we made some progress, and we are getting better for the ERC. Thanks to all people around us – said Miko Marczyk. 25-year-old driver from Lodz, and 2019 Polish Rally Champion celebrated his maiden FIA ERC podium.

Another Polish Rally Champion Wojciech Chuchala was close to seal his dream ERC result, by finishing 4th overall. Unfortunately, he was late at TC before SS13 due to engine failure in his Skoda Fabia Rally2. 70-second penalty saw Chuchala and Rozwadowski drop to 7th in ORLEN 77th Rally Poland standings.

National championship classification was won by Marczyk and Gospodarczyk, with Chuchala/Rozwadowski 2nd and Grzyb/Poradzisz (Skoda Fabia Rally2) in third place.

Sami Pajari made the perfect European Rally Championship debut with an ERC3/ERC3 Junior victory double in his Pirelli-equipped Ford Fiesta Rally4. The Finn beat Frenchman Mathieu Franceschi (Peugeot 208 Rally4) to ERC3 honours with Rallye Team Spain’s Pep Bassas third.

Spanish youngster Javier Pardo topped a highly competitive ERC2 category on his debut in the division with a strong performance for Suzuki Motor Ibérica.

The fastest duo in Polish 2WD category were Jakub Brzezinski and Dariusz Burkat in Cracow-built Ford Fiesta Rally4.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the event’s first running, ORLEN 77th Rally Poland organisers scheduled a superspecial stage in downtown Warsaw, where the original Rajd Polski began on July 23, 1921. Titled Rally Poland 100th Anniversary, SS14 measured 1.96 kilometres in length and was streamed live on Facebook, YouTube and Motowizja channels in Poland. The stage layout was almost identical to the route of Rajd Barbórka – Kryterium Karowa, Poland’s traditional end-of-season motorsport spectacular show, and was the only sealed-surface test in ORLEN 77th Rally Poland. It was ran on tarmac and cobblestone sections through the streets of Browarna, Furmanska and the world-famous Karowa in central Warsaw and featured an iconic final climb. However, because Rajd Barbórka takes place under the cover of darkness in December, rallying in daylight in Poland’s capital city was a unique experience. Given his enthusiasm for the stage, it was fitting that ORLEN Team’s Miko Marczyk was rapid through the run in his Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo, although Craig Breen came out on top in the end, albeit by 0.2s, for Team MRF Tyres.

Gravel Rally Liepaja in Latvia (1-3 July) will be the next round of ERC. Meanwhile Polish Rally Championship contenders will move to tarmac, with Rajd Nadwislanski (16-18 July) to kick-off sealed-surface part of the season.

ORLEN 77th Rally Poland final classification

  1. Lukyanuk/Arnautov (RUS/RUS, Citroen C3 Rally2) +01:48:31,3 s
  2. Mikkelsen/Floene (NOR/NOR, Skoda Fabia Rally2) +18,4 s
  3. Marczyk/Gospodarczyk (POL/POL, Skoda Fabia Rally2) +1:54,7 s
  4. Solans/Marti (ESP/ESP, Skoda Fabia Rally2) +3:06,2 s
  5. Herczig/Ferencz (HUN/HUN, Skoda Fabia Rally2) +3:44,8 s
  6. Llarena/Fernandes (ESP/ESP, Skoda Fabia Rally2) +3:46,5 s
  7. Chuchała/Rozwadowski (POL/POL, Skoda Fabia Rally2) +3:56,0 s
  8. Bonato/Boulloud (FRA/FRA, Citroen C3 Rally2) +4:11,7 s
  9. Cais/Zakova (CZE/CZE, Ford Fiesta Rally2) +4:16,6 s
  10. Grzyb/Poradzisz (POL/POL, Skoda Fabia Rally2) +4:43,1 s