Italian drama: new European Championship leader

The FIA European Rally Championship fifth round has finished today in Italy. Rally di Roma Capitale started and finished in the city, where all the world roads lead – in Rome, but the special stages were located in the vicinity of the resort town of Fiuggi.

Italian rally traditional special stages are located in the mountainous part of the country and have a lot of corners. The combination of abrasive surface with high air temperature and the dominating “route hosts” – all crews, who came to Fiuggi for points in the European series have to get nervous. The drivers, who repeatedly become champions of the Italian rally series, took the lead from the very first kilometers; they occupied the first three lines of the overall standings, thus, showed who was boss in the race to everyone who came to the Eternal City.

Aleksey Lukyanuk and Aleksey Arnautov, performing in the Citroen C3 R5 this season, were unhappy with the car settings and the situation during the entire first section – last year Lucas was faster by five seconds at the first special stage and by seven seconds at the second one on the same roads.

There were only 16 special stages, but the struggle for points in the race was severe. On the very first day of the race several favorites ran off the track or retired during the first section – Nikolay Gryazin in Skoda Fabia R5 and Luca Rossetti. The Skoda of Albert Von Thurn und Taxis burned down, and almost every second driver could “boast” that he had to change the wheels – the punctures followed one another.
The final special stage of the day, where the current FIA European Rally Championship leader Lukasz Habaj went off the track and was forced to give up the fight, got on fans nerves. The special stage was stopped until the moment of Habaj’s car evacuation that blocked the narrow road. By the day results Lukyanuk and Arnautov secured the second position. 
Sunday was divided into three sections, two of them consisted of four special stages each and there were two more in the final section. The morning decision of the sports commissioners board on the 60-second penalty due to inconsistencies in the size of the car wheelbase on the left and right sides was a surprise for Russian fans and the crew from St. Petersburg; measurements were taken the previous day. Each side of the car was measured three times and there was a discrepancy with the approved dimensions (2570 фтв 2571 vs. 2568 mm).
Because of this “gift”, the tactics of the Russians on Sunday was changed – they had to defend their claims to the third line in the overall standings instead of fighting for the first or second place.
The final chord was the passage of SS15 and SS16 with a distance of 1100 meters. In the results the data of the Lukyanuk / Arnautov crew did not appear for a long time, and in the control card the judges marked “No time”, referring to the inoperative timekeeping system.
Alexey Lukyanuk, “I just have no words. The race is poorly organized and there were “surprises” during the whole weekend. The absence of time at the final special stage spoiled the mood when we were given “no time” in the control card”.
According to the rally results, Giandomenico Basso, two-time European and Italian champion, secured the victory. The crew of the Russians is in the fourth position, but the points obtained at the Italian race suggest that the leader of the 2019 series has changed and the advantage is on the side of the Petersburgers again.
The next rally will be held in the Czech Republic – the town of Zlin will traditionally host the asphalt round of the championship from 16 to 18 August.
More about the first racing day>>>