ERC Rally Estonia: Lukyanuk leads in Estonia

Alexey Lukyanuk heads Kajetan Kajetanowicz by 2.4s at the end of the first day of auto24 Rally Estonia
Alexey Lukyanuk leads the auto24 Rally Estonia by 2.4 seconds, after an incredible drive in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X on Saturday and despite receiving a 10s penalty for jumping the start on SS6.

Co-driven by Alexey Arnautov, the Russian rally champion had been leading by 1.3s, but dropped to third once the penalty had been applied. Lukyanuk then set a stunning time over the Ristimäe stage, which at 34.91 kilometres is the longest stage of the event, to retake the lead by 0.1s – which he extended to 2.4s by the end of the day.

The ultra-fast gravel stages around Otepää in southern Estonia are well suited to the ERC2 cars, with four Mitsubishi Lancers in the top six overnight, with Rainer Aus third, Egon Kaur fifth and Siim Plangi sixth.

Kajetan Kajetanowicz is delighted to be holding second position overnight on his first attempt at the auto24 Rally Estonia – and the Polish driver is one of only three non-Estonian drivers in the top eight, and the top-placed newcomer. He has been flying in his LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5, and keen to strengthen his ERC title challenge and score big ERC Gravel Master points.

ERC leader Craig Breen had been as low as 9th after SS2, but has dug deep to climb up to fourth by the end of leg one. A flat-out “tank-slapper” on one of the fastest sections of SS7 illustrated his commitment behind the wheel of his Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16, as he aims for at least third place by the finish on Sunday.

Timmu Korge is seventh after a solid day in his Sainteloc Junior Team Peugeot 208 T16, one place ahead of Raul Jeets, who has enjoyed a trouble-free day in his Ford Fiesta R5. Jaros³aw Koltun overshot a junction on SS5, and completes tonight's top 10 in his Fiesta R5.

Juha Salo's hopes of victory disappeared when he had a slight off on SS7 in his 208 T16. Unfortunately, that caused a rear left puncture and the eight-time Finnish champion lost almost nine minutes getting to the end of the stage. Salo is in 34th position tonight, while Radik Shaymiev lost time after stopping to replace a rear left puncture on SS8 in his MM-Motorsport Fiesta R5, and is 31st. Antonin Tlusak had a better day in his Skoda Fabia S2000, but is still down in 18th place.

There were some key retirements during leg one, beginning with Robert Consani, who had engine problems in his Citroen DS3 R5 and stopped on the road section after SS2. Just 0.8s had separated Karl Kruuda (Citroën DS3 R5) from Martin Kangur (Fiesta R5) at the top of the leaderboard after SS2, although neither Estonian driver was to complete leg one. Kruuda, who had been slowed with pop-off problems, stopped on SS8 with a broken radiator, while Kangur, who was contesting his first rally in eight months, crashed on SS6. Tomasz Kasperczyk parked his Fiesta R5 on SS7.

Leg two on Sunday now starts at 07h30 and sees six stages containing two 31.91km loops of three stages, totalling 63.82kms. The longest stage is Vissi, at 13.32kms. The finish ceremony is in the centre of Tartu, near the Emajogi (Mother River), at 16h00 [all times local].

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Rainer Aus. auto24 Rally Estonia 2015 [Pic credit: ERC]
Kajetan Kajetanowicz. auto24 Rally Estonia 2015 [Pic credit: ERC]
Alexey Lukyanuk. auto24 Rally Estonia 2015 [Pic credit: ERC]

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