Azores Airlines Rallye, Saturday: “gift” for 1 April…

The final racing day on 1 April left some indescribable impression. Luck has got very strange sense of humor, you know. And on Saturday at the  Azores rally it was just “beating” everyone it could lay its “arm” on – unfortunately it was able to “reach” the crew of Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov…

On Saturday the “branded” Azores fog covered the stages – sometimes it seemed the track was simply lost in some white haze.  Moreover, the fog proved to be fantastically stable and lasted all day, it was poisoning the life of all crews without exception. At first everything went fine for our crew – Lukyanuk and Arnautov won the first morning special stage (21.01-km Graminhais); their gap from the Portuguese Bruno Magalhaes was 37 seconds.

Everything collapsed at Tronqueira (21.96 km), when the wheel hit a large rock lying in the middle of the track in one of the turns – the steering received serious damage… After some express repair on the track the crew managed to reach the special stage finish, but the loss of time was almost ten minutes, so guys decided to retire. And the race continued to “crush” other participants in all scoring categories. At the final section, Ricardo Moura (Azores Airlines Rallye last year winner) and the Czech Jan Cerny, who were on second and third places, left the race one after the other; at the penultimate SS Sergey Remennik, who was leading ERC-2, also retired; the final stage has brought down all hopes of the Finn Jari Huttunen, who went off the track and missed the victory in the youth standings J-ERC U27…

Bruno Magalhaes became the Azores Airlines Rallye winner (the third such success in the Azores) and the first leader of the European Championship, he scored 38 points. German Marijan Griebel secured the second position half a minute behind and got 26 points. Irishman Josh Moffett rounded out the top-three completely unexpectedly; he had never enjoyed such success on gravel – he lost the winner almost five minutes and received 20 points. Last year champion and vice-champion of Europe turned out to be lagging behind – Alexey Lukyanuk got 7 points, which allowed him to get ahead of Kajetan Kejetanowicz (6 points). Now we are preparing to catch the leader – the first possibility to do it will take place in a month, and again on the Atlantic islands. This time the Canaries await with their swirling Rally Islas Canarias (May 4-6)!