Race Reviews

Tyre dramas for Gryazin sees Lukyanuk take lead

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(19.06.2021) Nikolay Gryazin and Konstantin Aleksandrov (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) showed an impressive pace on first six stages of ORLEN 77th Rally Poland. Russian duo was already 40,5 seconds ahead of second placed crew Aleksey Lukyanuk/Aleksey Arnautov (Citroen C3 Rally2). Gryazin’s progress was halted with two punctures on SS 7. This forced him to retire from leg one as he could not reach the service on three wheels. In consequence ERC champion Alexey Lukyanuk has moved into first place. Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Floene (Skoda Fabia Rally 2) are second, 29,7 seconds adrift of the leaders. Mikolaj Marczyk and Szymon Gospodarczyk (Skoda Fabia Rally2) hold third overall, being the fastest Polish crew (+1:15,6 s).

01 LUKYANUK Alexey (RUS), ARNAUTOV Alexey (RUS), SAINTELOC JUNIOR TEAM, citroen C3, action 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

Gryazin took the lead already on Friday evening, after winning an opening stage Mikolajki Arena (2,5 km). Today 23-year-old Russian continued his dominant performance and won all three stages of the morning loop, earning impressive margin of 35,9 s. Lukyanuk was second, followed by Mikkelsen (+52,2 s) and two former Polish rally champions – Marczyk (+1:01,8 s) and Chuchala (+1:20,9 s).

Having won SS 5, Gryazin increased the gap to 40,6 s and kept it almost intact after SS 6. Longest stage of the rally – 28,7-kilometre long Wieliczki test proved to be crucial. The road was already damaged and rutted after first pass, so it was much easier to have a puncture or damage the car. Gryazin’s hopes of a second victory on Poland’s round of the FIA European Rally Championship ended, after he suffered double front puncture and had to retire from leg one. However, he will be able to restart on ORLEN 77th Rally Poland tomorrow.

Lukyanuk completed SS7 with the fastest time in his Citroën C3 Rally2 to move 10,6 s ahead of the luckless Gryazin. But that margin meant little when Gryazin was forced to retire, leaving Lukyanuk 29,7 s ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen following the leg-closing Mikołajki Arena stage.

Miko Marczyk is third for ORLEN Team with fellow Pole Wojciech Chuchała in fourth followed by Rallye Team Spain’s Nil Solans, Škoda Rally Team Hungaria driver Norbert Herczig and CHL Sport Auto’s Yoann Bonato. Efrén Llarena is eighth for Rallye Team Spain, Erik Cais (Yacco ACCR Team) ninth and Umberto Scandola completing the top 10 for Hyundai Rally Team Italia.

– It’s a nice feeling, I’m happy with our strategy for the afternoon, thanks for an amazing day to everybody, it was a good day, it’s amazing to be back on the gravel, good car, good set-up – said Lukyanuk. – Today was OK for us, we learned new tyres, not so much more we can do – summarized Mikkelsen. – I’m very satisfied, everything is according to our plan. Now it’s time for some rest and tomorrow again push for 100% – declared Marczyk, ORLEN Team driver.

Wroblewski and Wrobel (Skoda Fabia Rally2), second ORLEN-backed crew, crashed out of the event in SS 7. Wieliczki stage was restarted, and then stopped again, after one of crews went off the road, injuring two spectators, who were immediately taken to hospitals in Elk and Suwalki.

Six special stages are scheduled for the final leg of ERC opener. Finish and prize-giving ceremony will be held on the ground of PGE Narodowy Stadium at 7:00 PM.

ORLEN 77th Rally Poland standings after SS8:

  1. Lukyanuk/Arnautov (RUS/RUS, Citroen C3 Rally2) +01:10:23,2 s
  2. Mikkelsen/Floene (NOR/NOR, Skoda Fabia Rally2) +29,7 s
  3. Marczyk/Gospodarczyk (POL/POL, Skoda Fabia Rally2) +1:15,6 s
  4. Chuchała/Rozwadowski (POL/POL, Skoda Fabia Rally2) +1:46,4 s
  5. Solans/Marti (ESP/ESP, Skoda Fabia Rally2) +2:22,3 s
  6. Herczig/Ferencz (HUN/HUN, Skoda Fabia Rally2) +2:38,6 s
  7. Bonato/Boulloud (FRA/FRA, Citroen C3 Rally2) +2:41,9 s
  8. Llarena/Fernandes (ESP/ESP, Skoda Fabia Rally2) +2:43,9 s
  9. Cais/Zakova (CZE/CZE, Ford Fiesta Rally2) +2:46,2 s
  10. Scandola/D’Amore (ITA/ITA, Hyundai i20 R5) +3:27,9 s