After months of postponing and postponing races, the main European rally series has finally kicked off. For many of the participants, this was the first performance after a forced long break. Instead of the usual gravel pavement, which allows to level the flaws of piloting, the first race of the season called on the pilots to concentrate all their attention and not make any mistakes, scrupulously calculating the trajectories on the asphalt. No joke, there were several accidents during Friday’s free runs and during the qualifying section.
And on Saturday morning of the first full-fledged racing day, the rally program “shifted” by several hours at once as a result of two serious incidents: at the very first special stage of the rally, Andrea Cruignola, who was considered one of the favorites of the Italian race, made a rapid dash to a stone fence on the side of the road, immobilizing his car and blocking their road for further travel for a long time. At the next special stage, there was a pause in the competition again, but this time as a result of a somersault with a landing on the roof across the road performed by another pilot.
The Russians Lukyanuk and Eremeev took a good pace from the first kilometers of the track, not taking seriously the advice of well-wishers about being careful – they instantly increased their advantage and kept it until the finish of the day. Alexey and Dmitry won all six Saturday special stages and received the first five points of the season, beating their nearest rival Giandomenico Basso by more than half a minute.
Sunday rally di Roma was much calmer – Alexey Lukyanuk performed with a cool head at nine special stages and did not force events, but controlled a temporary handicap, allowing the Italian pilot to show the potential of the new sports equipment. Basso was able to play only 18 seconds of the total time. Thus, Lukyanuk inscribed his name in the modern history of the Roman rally for the second time, winning two of the four ERC rounds held here (since the restructuring of the championship in 2004).
Alexey Lukyanuk, pilot : “We didn’t make any mistakes, it was a very“ clean ride ”at a good pace from the very first special stage. There was no extreme or a frantic impulse to win all fractions of a second: we increased the advantage, and then we drove clearly confidently and reliably. Probably even drove differently in general. During this forced break, thanks to physical and mental training, I began to see the road in a different way, there were fewer surprises on it, a very clear perception of the track, turns, transcripts appeared. It’s very cool that this symbiosis works and I want to add more speed! In fact, there was no place on the track where I would have thought “well, that’s it, I won this race.” It was a well-calculated action, we drove at an excellent pace, controlled the situation and did not take risks – we did it, I’m happy! I still don’t think about that you need to “return the title of champion” or “confirm it” – I want to enjoy the first victory. Thanks to all our partners who made it possible! “
The next stage of the European championship is to be hosted by Latvia – the rally “Liepaja” is scheduled to take place from 14 to 16 August.