Pirelli consolidates fia European Rally Championship lead in the Azores following a thrilling battle
|Lukyanuk claimed second place in the Azores|
Pirelli driver Alexey Lukyanuk has claimed second place on the Azores Airlines Rally, following a fantastic fightback after a loose turbo pipe cost him the win with just two stages to go. Third overall for reigning champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz (who was also leading until he broke a driveshaft on the final day) means that the Pole retains the overall lead of the championship, ahead of Lukyanuk. Both drivers are using a Ford Fiesta R5, winning 12 stages out of 16 between them.
As usual, the Azores Rally presented a wide and complex mix of weather conditions, which made tyre choice absolutely crucial. With rainstorms, fog, and bright sunshine combined, the conditions were constantly changing, which made the grip levels and surfaces on round four of the European Rally Championship extremely hard to predict.
Run on gravel, the 16 spectacular special stages – including the Sete Cidades stage, run around the rim of a volcano – provided a tough challenge for the tyres, which had to be versatile enough to perform effectively within an ample range of conditions. As well as variable weather, there were also variable stage lengths: from a short superspecial to stages that were longer than 25 kilometres.
Pirelli triumphed in all the major classes, with Subaru Poland driver Wojciech Chuchala claiming his fourth ERC2 win in as many events after an impressive recovery drive. Pirelli is the exclusive supplier to the ERC Junior championship – for drivers aged 27 or under at the start of the year – with Portuguese driver Diogo Gago also winning the RC4 class in his Pirelli-equipped Peugeot 208 R2.
All the Pirelli drivers had the well known Scorpion K and Scorpion KM gravel tyres at their disposal. The Scorpion K tyre is a more closed pattern for harder surfaces, whereas the Scorpion KM is a more open pattern, available for softer and looser surfaces.
Pirelli’s rally activity manager Terenzio Testoni said: “From a tyre perspective the Azores was once more one of the most challenging rounds of the European championship, with the four seasons in one day that are typical of this mid-Atlantic island. On the second passage through the stages in particular, there were also several sharp rocks coming through. Despite the tricky nature of the stages, both our top drivers – who had each been leading before mechanical problems unfortunately got in the way – were able to put in a fantastic fightback to secure two podium places and first and second in the European championship, having won 12 of 16 stages.”
The next round of the FIA European Rally Championship is the Ypres Rally, which takes place on asphalt in Belgium from 23-25 June.
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