This weekend (3-5 August), the FIA European Rally Championship second half of the season starts – an asphalt rally Rajd Rzeszowski is held in the Polish town of Rzeszow, where the Russian Performance Motorsport team will finally perform at full strength! For the first time since the Rally Islas Canarias in May, that is, after almost a three-month break, the crews of Alexey Lukyanuk / Alexey Arnautov (Ford Fiesta R5) and Sergei Remennik / Mark Rozin (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X) will fight for the team.
As you know, after the successful Euro season start (a day won at the Azores Airlines Rallye and a victory at the Rally Islas Canarias; 46 points scored and the second place in the FIA European Rally Championship overall standings), Alexey Lukyanuk had a serious accident during tests in the Pskov region, was injured and missed the next two ERC rounds in Greece and Cyprus. Now the St. Petersburg crew of Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov returns to the rally tracks again – they will face a serious challenge at the special stages in the vicinity of Rzeszow.
Alexey Lukyanuk, “It’s not an easy decision to start at this race, I mean morally. My rehabilitation after the accident has not been completed yet, but the hard work on the recovery is conducted every day. We consider the race in Poland not as a struggle for results, but as a first step on our way to return to the rally world, and an opportunity to express our gratitude to our Fans, Rivals, Partners, and all those people who support our friends and their loved ones after this terrible accident”.
Sergei Remennik, “Our plans have not changed dramatically – this year we would like to participate in all the European Rally Championship rounds in the ERC-2 category (Production). We would like to finish in every race – unfortunately, so far we have not been able to. And, having the statistics of the participants after the first half of the season, we understand we are competitive in ERC-2 and able to finish the championship on the podium. It will be very hard to struggle for the victory, but we have originally planned two seasons – the first one to get used to the ERC, and the next one to fight for the title.
I am very happy that our RPM team will be at full strength at this race. I just admire Lukyanuk’s will power and incredibly happy he decided to start in Poland. It was very hard for us without him in two previous races in Greece and Cyprus”.
There are 96 participants in this year’s Rajd Rzeszowski entry list, 49 of them are planning to perform in the FIA European Rally Championship – including 22 crews in R5 cars (plus three R5 in other national and regional series). It is expected the main contenders for victory will be the Pole Kajetan Kajetanowicz (European Champion 2015-2016), the Portuguese Bruno Magalhaes (current leader of the FIA European Rally Championship), the Norwegian Mads Ostberg (one of the WRC veterans), the Frenchman Bryan Bouffier (Rajd Rzeszowski Champion, having won here four times). To this list we can add at least five or six potential candidates for the podium – Grzegorz Grzyb, Marijan Griebel, Nikolay Gryazin, Jose Maria Lopez Planelles, José Antonio Suarez Miranda…
The Rzeszow track is considered one of the fastest asphalt roads in Eastern Europe – the average speed at many stages is above 100 km/h and often reaches 110-120 km/h. The program of the competitions this year is as follows: on Thursday morning (3 August) there will be free training and qualification at the Niechobrz special stage 3.37 km long; on Friday-Saturday (4-5 August) there are 11 special stages with a total length of 214.63 km. The competitive distance will be divided approximately equally – five special stages and 100.83 km are planned on Friday, and six special stages and 113.8 km – on Saturday.
Starts: 18h00, Thursday 3 August, Millenium Hall (Rzeszów)
Finishes: 17h30, Saturday 5 August, Market Square (Rzeszów)
Headquarters: Hotel Hilton Garden Inn Rzeszów, ul. Kopisto 1, Rzeszów
Service park: Rzeszów University of Technology Campus, ul. Akademicka, Rzeszów
ERC appearances (since 2004 restructuring): 1 (2016)
Stage distance: 214.63 kilometres (100.83 kilometres leg one, 113.80 kilometres leg two)
Liaison: 405.28 kilometres
Total: 619.91 kilometres