Alexey Lukyanuk has won the auto24 Rally Estonia, round six of the FIA European Rally Championship, in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, after a truly stunning drive over the ultra-fast gravel roads around Otep?? in southern Estonia.

Co-driven by Alexey Arnautov, the reigning Russian and Estonia rally champion quickly regained the lead after losing it briefly because of a 10 second jump start penalty on SS6, and in the closing stages was able to control the pace and win by 12.7s.

"It was a very hard moment when I realised that I had that penalty," said Lukyanuk after taking his first ERC victory. "Ten seconds is a lot on this rally, and after the penalty I thought that winning was almost impossible. But things changed and we found some extra speed somewhere and we did a good job. I have a lot of confidence on these stages, and they suit my driving style well."

Kajetan Kajetanowicz finished second in his LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5, searching for more top-end speed sometimes, even in the corners. The result sees the Polish driver extend his ERC Gravel Masters lead, but more importantly it sees him take the overall lead in the ERC standings, after rival Craig Breen retired.

Breen was driving as fast as he could, but felt his Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16 was struggling a little on the soft road surface and was bogging down a little. He was fourth, and closing in on third position, when his car's engine began to lose oil pressure on SS14 - and he retired at the end of the stage.

The fastest stages were well suited to the ERC2 cars, with the production-based cars able to carry colossal speed around the grippy high-speed corners. Five ERC2 cars finished in the top nine - and in addition to Lukyanuk, Rainer Aus finished third overall in his Mitsubishi, ahead of Siim Plangi in fourth, Dominykas Butvilas in seventh, and David Botka in ninth.

On the fastest sections, the ERC2 cars hit a higher top-speed than the R5 cars, although it was a new turbo, fitted to his Sainteloc Junior Team Peugeot 208 T16 at today's midday service, that helped Timmu Korge get back to his flying best. The Estonian driver looked set to finish fourth, before a puncture on the final stage dropped him to fifth.

Raul Jeets hadn't done a gravel rally since October, and running third on the road on leg two didn't make his return any easier either, but once leg one's gear selection problems were fixed in service this morning, the Estonian driver flew today, finishing sixth in his MM-Motorsport run Ford Fiesta R5.

Jaroslaw Koltun scored a solid eighth in his Fiesta R5, Antonin Tlustak came home 14th in his Skoda Fabia S2000 and Radik Shaymiev rounded off the top 20 in his MM-Motorsport Fiesta R5.

Top 10 positions (after 16 stages, 202.86 kilometres)

1. Alexey Lukyanuk (BLR)/Alexey Arnautov (BLR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X 1h32.25.4s
2. Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL)/Jarek Baran (POL) Ford Fiesta R5 +12.7s
3. Rainer Aus (EST)/Simo Koskinen (EST) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX +1m07.0s
4. Siim Plangi (EST)/Marek Sarapuu (EST) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X +2m06.9s
5. Timmu Korge (EST)/Erki Pints (EST) Peugeot 208 T16 +2m23.7s
6. Raul Jeets (EST)/Andrus Toom (EST) Ford Fiesta R5 +3m36.2s
7. Dominykas Butvilas (LIT)/Przemyslaw Mazur (POL) Subaru Impreza WRX STI +4m50.8s
8. Jaroslaw Koltun (POL)/Ireneusz Pleskot (POL) Ford Fiesta R5 +5m20.8s
9. David Botka (HUN)/P?ter Mihalik (HUN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX +7m36.1s
10. Ralfs Sirmacis (LVA)/Arturs Simins (LVA) Peugeot 208 R2 +8m01.6s

FIA ERC2: Alexey Lukyanuk (BLR)/Alexey Arnautov (BLR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution XFIA ERC3: Ralfs Sirmacis (LVA)/Arturs Simins (LVA) Peugeot 208 R2FIA ERC Junior: Ralfs Sirmacis (LVA)/Arturs Simins (LVA) Peugeot 208 R2Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy: Alexey Lukyanuk (BLR)



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