The FIA European Rally Championship is taking place in the Canary Islands – the first day of the series second round is completed. The Russians Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov are in the first position.
These names have been appearing in the lists of this race winners for the last three years, but in 2019 the crew from St. Petersburg has started in a different car, using a different brand of tyres than in previous years. By replacing the Ford Fiesta R5 with the Citroen C3 R5, guys have to re-search settings and adapt to the driving with the Michelin.
Eight of 16 special stages were held on Friday; the longest SS Tejeda, 24 kilometers long, passed along the roads of the central part of Gran Canaria, high in the mountains.
The hallmark of these roads – an abrasive asphalt – sometimes plays not into the hands of racers, whose driving style implies an aggressiveness.
Today the crews from Spain, Russia, Germany and Great Britain have fought for the leadership. After the second special stage the advantage was captured by two Alexeys, but neither Jose Maria Lopez, nor Marijan Griebel, nor Chris Ingram wanted to concede points and actually snapped on the heels of the Citroen with the Russian tricolor on the livery.
At the end of the day Lukyanuk’s advantage was 3.8 seconds: having earned his first points at this race for the won day, Lukyanuk also chalked up four victories at the special stages.
Alexey Lukyanuk, “For all the previous three years we have chosen the 14-15th position after the qualification. There is nowhere to “cut” here, and you can sleep a little bit longer and, if it rained at night, there is a chance that the road will dry out better to our passage and the foregoing cars will dry it out. Plus there are traces of the brakes and they’re better seen. It was a difficult day. The struggle is very tight, we are using new tires, we still don’t really understand their limits and resources: they warm up for a long time, there is still no advantage at short special stages. Both the qualification and today’s city special stages with a length of 1-1.5 km demonstrated it. We lost almost a second per kilometer at them, it’s really much. This is not very motivating, but we have to resist: we have only 3.8 seconds. Tomorrow special stages are not long, the balance is not quite in our favor. So now we will think about what to invent in order to add speed a little bit. The team works fine and helps us to customize and master the car. I would like to win more, but we did a good job and finished the day in a good position”.
Traditionally the most difficult special stages are expected at the final racing day. This year they are laid in the mountainous part of the island – only 104 kilometers of high-speed mountain asphalt spiral roads. Fans can watch the race on the European Championship website fiaerc.com, live on social networks of the series, as well as in daily reviews on the Eurosport channel.