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Sep 17

ERC gladiator Bouffier wins in Rome by 0.3s!

FIA European Rally Championship 2017: Round 7 of 8

Rally di Roma Capitale: Leg two report, 17 September. Rally di Roma Capitale victory battle decided on thrilling final stage. Double joy for ACCR Czech Team with ERC Junior U28 and ERC Junior U27 wins. Molinaro takes ERC Ladies’ Trophy, Érdi Jr keeps ERC2 victory bid on track. Coveted FIA championship titles to be settled on Latvian season closer.

Bryan Bouffier defeated Kajetan Kajetanowicz by 0.3s in a thrilling final-stage shootout for FIA European Rally Championship glory in Italy today. Bouffier started the closing 11.75-kilometre test on Rally di Roma Capitale trailing the double European champion by 0.5s, but went quicker by 0.8s to win the closest finish in recent ERC history, as the lead changed hands a staggering nine times in 12 stages.

Jan Černý won ERC Junior Under 28 for the first time with fellow ACCR Czech Team driver Filip Mareš claiming his maiden ERC Junior Under 27 victory. Tibor Érdi Jr secured the ERC2 laurels to close to within four points of the championship lead heading to the final round in Latvia next month. Elsewhere, Tamara Molinaro wrapped up the ERC Ladies’ Trophy title as Emma Falcón lost out on an event win when she retired with engine problems one stage from home.

Leg two recap: High drama as Bouffier triumphs
Kajetanowicz had cancelled out a seven-second overnight deficit to Bouffier when he outpaced his French rival by 9.1s on this morning’s opening test, the rally’s longest at 32.70 kilometres, to take the lead by 2.1s – despite reporting brake issues on his Ford Fiesta R5 midway through the run.

Bouffier, meanwhile, feared his decision to run on soft-compound tyres was incorrect for what was a largely drying stage albeit with some wet and muddy sections. And with Kajetanowicz able to rectify his brake issue prior to SS8, the Pole extended his advantage over Bouffier to 3.1s with another stage victory. Kajetanowicz was fastest again on SS9, albeit by a mere 0.2s ahead of Bouffier, to reach the mid-leg halt in Fiuggi east of Rome leading by 3.3s. Bouffier then hit back on SS10 to take a 0.4s lead into the penultimate stage, which Kajetanowicz edged by 0.9s to retake the lead by 0.5s to set up a dramatic finale.

“For sure it’s amazing to win and especially in these conditions when you are fighting like hell,” said the Gemini Clinic Rally Team driver, who becomes the first two-time winner in this season’s ERC in the Ford Fiesta R5 he was sharing with co-driver Xavier Panseri. “We did our best and it’s amazing, it’s so great I start to fly a little bit. In all sport it’s nice to fight, it gives you adrenalin and this is what I enjoy. Big thanks to the team and to my sponsors for my two victories.”

Bouffier had lost out to Jan Kopecký by 0.5s in the previous closest ERC finish in Austria in 2013, making his triumph in Rome all the more satisfying. Meanwhile, Kajetanowicz, who remains on course to win his third European championship crown on Rally Liepāja next month, said: “It doesn’t matter if I won or was second. I am just really happy to be here for my first time fighting for victory. The car was almost perfect, it’s an amazing feeling and big congratulations to Bryan. That was a big battle so well done to him.”

Bruno Magalhães, who finished third in his SEAJETS ŠKODA, remains in title contention with one event and a maximum of 39 points remaining. The Portuguese is 24 points behind Kajetanowicz when dropped scores are applied, as he bids to break the Polish driver’s ERC dominance. Meanwhile, Grzegorz Grzyb finished his 250th rally in fourth with ERC returnee Simone Tempestini fifth. Černý took sixth, Łukasz Habaj seventh, Nikolay Gryazin eighth, Stéphane Consani ninth and Tonino Di Cosimo P10 for Motorsport Italia.

Alexey Lukyanuk, who had been leading prior to taking the front-left wheel off his Fiesta on Saturday’s final stage due to a headlight issue, was a non-starter today due to excessive damage.

ERC Junior Under 28: Černý in control for first win
Czech federation-backed Jan Černý took his maiden FIA ERC Junior Under 28 victory with Nikolay Gryazin beating newcomer Stéphane Consani into second place on the final morning. While Peugeot Rally Academy driver Pepe López retired from both legs with technical issues, team-mate José Suárez was inspired with a succession of fastest stage times when he restarted on Sunday after crashing out on Saturday’s opener.

ERC Junior Under 27: Mareš bags maiden glory
Filip Mareš won a closely-fought battle in FIA ERC Junior Under 27 with the ACCR Czech Team driver climbing from his overnight third place to first in his Pirelli-shod Peugeot 208 after demoting Opel drivers Jari Huttunen and Chris Ingram with a sublime run through Sunday’s opening stage to bag a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Mareš put his early pace down to his decision to use soft compound tyres on the damp opener. Huttunen chose hard tyres and lost time, while Ingram was lacking in confidence unable to commit to his pacenotes. Earning the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy, Mareš is one of four drivers firmly in contention for the title – and the 100,000 euros career progression fund on offer to the champion – heading to the finale in Latvia. Behind Ingram, Karel Kupec, Kristóf Klausz and an ill Tamara Molinaro completed the top six. Domink Brož retired with technical issues on stage seven where Catie Munnings lost several minutes stuck in a ditch. Munnings battled back to finish seventh with Molinaro securing the ERC Ladies’ Trophy spoils on home soil after Emma Falcón retired on the penultimate stage. Aleks Zawada arrived in Italy leading the standings but a flywheel failure on stage two forced his early exit. The Pole will work tirelessly to secure the funding needed to contest Rally Liepāja next month where he can still take the title.

ERC2: Mixed emotions for winner Érdi Jr
Tibor Érdi Jr overcame a central differential glitch to win ERC2 and close to within four points of the championship summit. Sergey Remennik was unable to restart after damaging his Mitsubishi Lancer beyond immediate repair when he crashed on stage two. Title leader Zelindo Melegari withdrew after his father passed away suddenly on Friday night. The thoughts of the ERC community remain with the Italian with Érdi Jr carrying a black ribbon on his Lancer as a mark of respect.

Andolfi Jr claims FIA RGT glory in Fiat 124 Abarth one-two-three
Fabrizio Andolfi Jr got the better of fellow Fiat 124 Abarth driver Andrea Nucita to win the FIA RGT category with Andrea Modanesi third after in another Fiat after overnight leader Romain Dumas was delayed on the final day stopping to change a puncture having occupied a top 10 spot in his Porsche 997.

From historic tour to seaside finish for ERC’s Italian return
Rally di Roma Capitale’s first appearance on the ERC schedule began in spectacular fashion and culminated in a dramatic final stage showdown. After bringing parts of central Rome to a standstill on Friday evening with a driving tour of the historic city under police escort, a floodlit superspecial stage in front of thousands of fans proved another highlight ahead of the ceremonial finish in Ostia, a popular seaside destination on the banks of the banks of the Tyrrhenian Sea and a short drive from Rome.

PROVISIONAL TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 12 stages, 202.48 kilometres)
1 Bryan Bouffier (FRA)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Ford Fiesta R5 2h02m16.0s
2 Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL)/Jarek Baran (POL) Ford Fiesta R5 +0.3s
3 Bruno Magalhães (PRT)/Hugo Magalhães (PRT) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +57.9s
4 Grzegorz Grzyb (POL)/Jakub Wrobel (POL) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +1m18.3s
5 Simone Tempestini (ROU)/Segiu Itu (ROU) Citroën DS3 R5 +1m55.4s
6 Jan Černý (CZE)/Petr Černohorský (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +2m10.4s
7 Łukasz Habaj (POL)/Daniel Dymurski (POL) Ford Fiesta R5 +2m25.5s
8 Nikolay Gryazin (RUS)/Yaroslav Fedorov (RUS) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +2m55.6s
9 Stéphane Consani (FRA)/Valentin Salmon (FRA) Citroën DS3 R5 +3m17.2s
10 Tonino Di Cosimo (ITA)/Paolo Francescucci (ITA) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +4m21.9s

FIA ERC2: Tibor Érdi (HUN)/György Papp (HUN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
FIA ERC3: Filip Mareš (CZE)/Jan Hloušek (CZE) Peugeot 208 R2
FIA ERC Junior Under 28: Jan Černý (CZE)/Petr Černohorský (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia R5
FIA ERC Junior Under 27: Filip Mareš (CZE)/Jan Hloušek (CZE) Peugeot 208 R2
ERC Ladies’ Trophy: Tamara Molinaro (ITA)
Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy: Filip Mareš (CZE)

RALLY LEADERS
SS1: Nikolay Gryazin
SS2: Alexey Lukyanuk
SS3: Bryan Bouffier
SS4-5: Alexey Lukyanuk
SS6: Bryan Bouffier
SS7-9: Kajetan Kajetanowicz
SS10: Bryan Bouffier
SS11: Kajetan Kajetanowicz
SS12: Bryan Bouffier

STAGE WINNERS
Day one (Friday 15 and Saturday 16 September, 96.32 kilometres):

SS1: ACI Roma Arena (1.80kms):

ERC1 ERC2 ERC3 ERC Junior U28 ERC Junior U27
Gryazin Remennik Ingram Gryazin Ingram

SS2: Colle San Magno Turriziani Petroli 1 (13.65kms):

Lukyanuk Érdi Jr Ingram López Ingram

SS3: Greci-Pico PICUS 1 (26.44kms)

Stage cancelled

SS4: Pico Ecopetrol (14.34kms)

Lukyanuk Érdi Jr Huttunen Consani Huttunen

SS5: Colle San Magno Turriziani Petroli 2 (13.65kms):

Lukyanuk Érdi Jr Huttunen Gryazin Huttunen

SS6: Greci-Pico PICUS 2 (26.44kms)

Stage cancelled

Day two (Sunday 17 September, 106.16 kilometres):

SS7: Cave-Rocca S.Stefano BIG CAPUT MUNDI 1 (32.70kms):

Kajetanowicz Érdi Jr Mareš Suárez Mareš

SS8: Monastero-Jenne S SPECO 1 (8.63kms)

Kajetanowicz Érdi Jr Mareš Suárez Mareš

SS9: Altipiani-Guarcino Gruppo l’Automobile 1 (11.75kms)

Kajetanowicz Érdi Jr Huttunen Suárez Huttunen

SS10: Cave-Rocca S.Stefano BIG CAPUT MUNDI 2 (32.70kms):

Bouffier Érdi Jr Mareš Suárez Mareš

SS11: Monastero-Jenne S SPECO 2 (8.63kms)

Suárez Érdi Jr Huttunen Suárez Huttunen

SS12: Altipiani-Guarcino Gruppo l’Automobile 2 (11.75kms)

Bouffier Érdi Jr Huttunen Suárez Huttunen

 

 

KEY STATISTICS
ERC rally wins in 2017: Bouffier 2; Al-Attiyah, Kajetanowicz, Kopecký, Lukyanuk and Magalhães 1
ERC stage wins in 2017: Lukyanuk 23; Kajetanowicz 20; Kopecký 12; Al-Attiyah and Bouffier 9; Gryazin 6; Magalhães 4; Suárez 2; Griebel, Kresta, Moura, Østberg and Polykarpou 1

CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS
Go to FIAERC.com for the provisional championship positions following round seven of eight.

WATCH THE ERC ON EUROSPORT AND EUROSPORT PLAYER. CHECK LISTINGS FOR DETAILS

WHAT’S NEXT?
Rally Liepāja, 6-8 October 2017: Rally Liepāja, which took place for the first time in 2013 when it ran up Latvia’s Baltic coast from Liepāja to Ventspils, was due to open the 2016 ERC schedule in early February. However, higher-than-normal temperatures damaged the surface of the stages, causing concerns for safety and also for the state of roads used by the public. The new autumn date effectively made for an all-new rally as crews adjusted to stages free of snow and ice. As well as hosting a street stage, Liepāja is home to the ceremonial start and finish at the impressive Great Amber concert hall.

 

ERC Rally di Roma Capitale post-event press conference transcript

Present:
Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri, Gemini Clinic Rally Team, first position
Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Jarek Baran, LOTOS Rally Team, second position
Bruno Magalhães/Hugo Magalhães, third position

Q:
After losing out by 0.5s in what was previously the closest ERC finish, you’ve now won by 0.3s in what is the new closest finish. What does that mean to you?

BB:
The gap is nothing but the most important thing is to win for sure. It was a nice weekend and a great fight for us until the end because we had to push, one stage was for Kajto, one stage was for me. In the end we had to wait a long time because we didn’t know if we were going to win or not. I have to say this guy, Kajto and his co-driver, we have a fight together for many years in Poland and now he comes in the European championship to get a good result and he’s still there. I don’t know how long it will continue but I think it’s enough for now.

Q:
Half a second behind starting the final stage what was going through your mind? How confident were you of winning?

BB:
I don’t have a big pressure, I tried to do my best to drive clean and not taking that big risk because quite easily you can crash. For me I was focused on my driving, trying to get the good traction and the good lines and that’s it, no more. In these conditions you don’t have to think for many things, you are just doing the same job as usually. It’s not because you are at the last stage fighting for the win that you have to change a lot of things. I say I was just trying to do my job.

Q:
That final stage looked dramatic from outside the car but what was it like inside?

XP:
It was not dramatic from inside because we are driving together for something like 14 years and we know each other perfectly. Like Bryan said we knew what we had to do and we do our best to the end. At the end of the stage we didn’t know if we made a good run or not. It was just when we got to the end that we saw the time and we knew it was good.

Q:
You were leading by half a second starting the final stage. Did anything go wrong or were you at maximum attack?

KK:
We were pushing but at the same time I was trying to keep our good place. It’s not easy as I said before. The main objective was to keep our position in the European championship. That wasn’t easy for my health. It’s always heard and as Bryan said we are fighting for many years and we are older and older and older. But we are still fighting and I hope that we can do that to the end.

Q:
The results here mean the title is still to be decided in Latvia. How do you rate your chances now?

KK:
It depends. The gap is big but Bruno and Hugo are not so far and we have to keep a good speed, peddle to the metal and we will see. I hope we can be first after this season but it’s a long way.

Q:
It’s been such an exciting final day here in Italy. What could you have done differently to get the win or was the title playing on your mind?

JB:
I think it’s as Xavier said, sitting in the car with Kajto for many years and we know each other well. We didn’t take too many risks but we pushed as we could hard. The championship level is a risk but it was not maximum attack. Maybe Bryan had an advantage on the last one but I cannot say what it was, it’s a mystery. It was okay, but as also Xavier said it was exciting to the end. It was so small gap and everybody was waiting, it was exciting to find out who was the winner and congrats to the guys.

Q:
Back on the podium and still in contention for the title. What are the chances of you being in Latvia next month? Can you win the title?

BM:
Of course after this result we are going to try to go to the next event. This season is very different for me and for the other guys. Kajto doesn’t expect to fight with me this year I’m sure of that because we are a very small team and in the last years I didn’t make so many rallies. I was only to make one rally at the start of this year and for me what is happening to my team is amazing. We are going to try to make the next step and go to the next round of course. Our chances are not so big but if I can go there and fight and be there to congratulate the champion then of course I am happy. If I win I am much happier for sure.

Q:
You’ve rallied in lots of different countries but how does this event compare?

HM:
This event was very good, the stages are tricky and challenging and I like a lot these stages. In the beginning we wanted to get as much points as we can but it was difficult as everybody knows. We have no big chances to get the championship but we will fight until the end. But all of us have to be pleased about the job we have done so far and all this season has been fantastic.

source: FIAERC.com

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