ERC Junior U28: Kreim leads as young drivers battle for overall podium in Rome

ERC Junior U28: Kreim leads as young drivers battle for overall podium in Rome

22.07.2018: A trio of FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship drivers battled their more experienced ERC1 rivals for podium places during Rally di Roma Capitale’s opening leg, with Fabian Kreim leading while also holding third place overall.


A trio of FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship drivers battled their more experienced ERC1 rivals for podium places during Rally di Roma Capitale’s opening leg, with Fabian Kreim leading while also holding third place overal
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ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland driver Kreim felt his confidence increase stage by stage, moving his way through the overall order one by one while keeping his driving measured and tidy.



It was initially Rally Islas Canarias category winner Nikolay Gryazin setting the ERC Junior U28 pace, battling closely with Alexey Lukyanuk for first place overall while holding a solid category lead of 15.3s over Toksport WRT’s Chris Ingram.



 Come stage four a first in a series of unfortunate events beset Gryazin, as a corner-cutting impact broke his power steering and caused a minor engine fire. Forced to pull over to extinguish said fire and struggle home with heavy steering, he dropped three minutes to Ingram. It was a dream ERC Junior U28 return for Ingram after his early withdrawal from Rally Islas Canarias due to health reasons, leading at midday service.



Unfortunately, that feeling would not last long, as a puncture in stage five cost him 1m35.2s to new leader Kreim. Kreim’s 1m14.0s advantage over second placed Fredrik Åhlin after stage five grew to a 1m26.1s lead over the recovering Ingram by Leg One’s end, as Åhlin dropped to third place.



 Jan Černý, driving the ACCR Czech Team Ford Fiesta R5 which M-Sport driver Bryan Bouffier won Rally di Roma Capitale in last season, ended Leg One in fourth place. Along with Ingram, Åhlin, and Rhys Yates, Černý suffered a puncture in stage five but was one of the worst affected. He dropped 3m33.2s while fifth placed Yates conceded 4m05s, already down on time after a puncture in the morning running of the same test.



Both earned a position back when Gryazin’s day of potential success went further awry. Despite a devastating three-minute loss in stage four, he put his head down and got back to work, climbing to fourth in ERC Under 28 and P10 overall. While pushing on with his recovery, Gryazin’s clutch started to play up in stage six, evolving into a complete gearbox failure come stage eight.




Unable to drive away off the start line, he was towed away into retirement only 2.54 kilometres from the end of Leg One’s competitive action. PEUGEOT Rally Academy’s Laurent Pellier was barely given an opportunity to shine after his ERC3 victory on the Cyprus Rally last month. Like Yates he picked up a puncture on stage two, putting him 57.7s off then-leader Gryazin immediately.



Leg One came to a sudden halt one stage later, crashing into a tree and bouncing off down an embankment. Impact damage from Pellier’s accident was sufficient that resulting engine damage could not be fixed in service, meaning he will not attempt to restart his rally on Sunday’s second leg.
 


Richard Rodgers, photo FIA ERC DPPI

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22.07.2018 / MaP

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