Alexey Lukyanuk produced a perfect conclusion to the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship, taking victory on the CNP ASFALISTIKI Cyprus Rally and also winning the Love Cyprus Golden Stage to earn a total of 32,000 euros in prize money.

Lukyanuk absolutely mastered the mixed-surface challenge of the Cyprus Rally in his Ford Fiesta R5 fitted with Pirelli tyres.

The Russian driver led from the start, won 11 of the 13 stages and finished up 2m12.2s clear. It was his second win of the season, and his first since the opening round on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingl?s in March after suffering a string of disappointments in the middle of the year.

The result confirms Lukyanuk as the championship runner-up, after he had come into the final round with only a two-point advantage over Ralfs Sirmacis.

For his win, Lukyanuk receives 7,000 euros as part of the prize money awarded by Eurosport Events on every round of the ERC, and he earned a cool 25,000-euro bonus with the fastest time on the event-closing Love Cyprus Golden Stage, which had a total prize fund of 60,000 euros pledged by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation. The cancellation of the penultimate stage of the rally for safety reasons meant this became a single-stage dash-for-cash with a stunning finish line on the beach.

"It's a huge relief for us to be here, it was a really tough rally for us," said Lukyanuk, who was co-driven by Alexey Arnautov. "It's a great end to the season, we had a lot of issues but now I'm a happy man."

Lukyanuk worked hard throughout the year raising the budget to compete, and said his prize money would go back to those that made his appearance in Cyprus possible.

Finishing a superb second place was Marijan Griebel, who was making his four-wheel-drive debut in a Skoda Fabia R5, a prize drive for winning this year's ERC Junior Championship. With only 50 kilometres in the Pirelli-shod car beforehand, the German prospect impressed from the beginning with his speed, enjoying a close battle with fellow ERC Junior graduate Nikolay Gryazin over second before the Latvian teenager crashed out on stage six.

From there, Griebel made sure of second position, seeing off the threat of three-time 2016 round-winner Ralfs Sirmacis. The 22-year-old Latvian, also an ERC Junior graduate, was playing catch-up after an overly-cautious start in two challenging night stages that opened the rally on Friday, but won two stages on the following morning as he climbed up to third position in his Michelin-equipped Skoda. He was second quickest on the Love Cyprus Golden Stage despite a mistake, earning himself 15,000 euros. Griebel, who says the ERC would be the ideal place to continue his career next season, received 10,000 euros for third.

David Botka became the driver with the most ERC starts in 2016 with his ninth appearance in Cyprus, and last year's ERC2 champion concluded his first season at the top level with a second fourth place finish. As on many events this year, the Hungarian was dogged by reliability issues in his privately-run Citroen DS3 R5, including a loss of power on Saturday and smoke filling the cockpit on Sunday.

Cypriot Christos Demosthenous was the top local representative in fifth overall and took the ERC2 win in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. As well as his third-straight showroom class on his home event, it was a third top-six outright result. Two more local Mitsubishi drivers fought over sixth, with "Chips Junior" - attempting the rally in the driver's seat for the first time - resisting a charge from Costas Zenonos.

Top 10 positions (after 14 stages, 214.38 kilometres)

1. Alexey Lukyanuk (RUS)/Alexey Arnautov (RUS) Ford Fiesta R5 2h06m44.9s
2. Marijan Griebel (DEU)/Pirmin Winklhofer (DEU) Skoda Fabia R5 +2m12.2s
3. Ralfs Sirmacis (LVA)/Arturs Simins (LVA) Skoda Fabia R5 +2m56.0s
4. David Botka (HUN)/Peter Szeles (HUN) Citroen DS3 R5 +6m20.2s
5. Christos Demosthenous (CYP)/Pambos Laos (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX +7m13.7s
6. "Chips Junior" (CYP)/Antonis Chrysostomou (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX +9m13.1s
7. Costas Zenonos (CYP)/Phanos Christofi (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX +9m23.4s
8. Savvas Savva (CYP)/Andreas Papandreou (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX +12m31.8s
9. Michalis Posedias (CYP)/"Erikson" (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X +14m23.3s
10. Stavros Antoniou (CYP)/Demetris Pieri (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX +15m25.6s

FIA ERC2: Christos Demosthenous (CYP)/Pambos Laos (CYP) (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX)FIA ERC3: Murat Bostanci (TUR)/Onur Vatansever (TUR) (Ford Fiesta R2T)

 

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