The first racing day completed on the Azores – the Azores Airlines Rallye opened the season in the FIA European Rally Championships.
On Thursday the drivers tested the cars at the shakedown and took part in the qualifying runs, determining the fastest crew. The speed at the qualification special stage affects the ability to choose the starting position for the first section of the race that is why everyone tried to put it to the maximum. The first 15 fastest crews have the advantage in this choice.
The crew of Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov from St. Petersburg took the second place and was able to secure a comfortable position for the start – the 14th place.
Alexey Lukyanuk, “I chose the 14th position, because the 15th was already occupied (laughing). It is usually better to start as late as possible at the gravel races, because the road is cleared as the cars pass and a clean trajectory with a good grip appears, so you can go faster. Therefore everyone tries to occupy a place as far as possible from the first”.
The gaps at the finish were not great, and the final position affected the starting order for the next section more. Alexey Lukyanuk finished the day among the leaders and, given that the organizers reverse the field top ten, secured a better starting position – the 10th place.
Alexey Lukyanuk, “The emotions are mixed, since I still resent of my stupid mistake on the second stage. A place where you do not need to push hard: a jump and a left sharp turn about 40 meters after it. But since this special stage was similar to last year’s one, I remembered that I could go a little bit faster there than last year. That’s what I tried to do. As a result, the car flew 10 meters and a short distance after landing was not enough to slow down. We went past the turn through the storm drain and stopped outside the road in the field. We lost about 10 seconds – fortunately, the exit to the track was close. As for the rest, I’m satisfied with the pace and the car”.
Tomorrow is a full racing day and we expect an interesting fight.