FIA European Rally Championship season is over
The FIA European Rally Championship season ended last week in Latvia. Russian Performance Motorsport Team finished it with bronze medals. Alexey Lukyanuk’s co-driver, Alexey Arnautov, received the third cup for his career in the FIA European Rally Championship – he secured the third place in the overall standings by the end of the year. The crew of Sergei Remennik and Mark Rozin from Ekaterinburg became the bronze medalists of the FIA European Rally Championship in the ERC2 category – Production. Alexey Lukyanuk received the seventh Colin McRae Trophy for the 2017 season – for the will to victory and the most spectacular driving.
The final season round ended with Lukyanuk/Arnautov crew retirement, and on the second rally day the team was represented only by the crew of Sergei Remennik and Mark Rozin, who took the tenth place in the overall standings and continued the struggle for the ERC-2 podium. There was a whole series of unpleasant events – after Remennik faced some troubles and had to change the punctured wheel at SS-10. The problem seemed not to be crucial while driving on the track, but after the jump the car behavior caused fear. The crew stopped for the wheel replacement and lost almost four minutes – it immediately threw guys from the second to the fourth place in their category.
Mark Rozin, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, ERC2, co-driver, “The FIA European Rally Championship turned out to be a huge adventure for us. Little nuances had a big impact on the sporting process although, for example, what’s the difference where to eat? You can organize a lunch in the service area (then someone from the team prepares it that distracts the person from the car maintenance process) or go to the city, but then you need to take the whole team of mechanics there. If to speak about recce logistics, it was a great success to do it on time!
If you look at everything that happens around the ERC racing process – the work of the organizers and judges – you can only admire! Unfortunately, the Russian rallying is still far from this level. Participation in the FIA European Rally Championship round differs much from passing four times on the same road in all possible directions and going home on the same day, as it happens at the Cup of Russia.
If we talk about the budget, the expenses that we have planned for the FIA ERC – it was a considerable amount of money – almost doubled. So, guys, if you’re going to drive in Europe and think you’ve developed the budget, just multiply that number by two.
So our wonderful adventure consisted of such different moments – both positive and negative. We’ve visited those places of our world, where we would hardly have ever travelled, if it had not been for the rally. Walking along the edge of the volcano in the Azores, riding in the heat on the stony roads of Greece, in the mountains of Cyprus, along the Polish and Czech villages – you will not go to these places yourself. This is not the same as coming to the eternal city of Rome, or to the legendary Liepaja”.
Sergei Remennik, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, ERC2, driver, “The season was not as we’ve planned – we wanted to show a better result. It was too venturesome idea – to try to win the Championship from the first time! But there were such thoughts by the middle of the second racing day at the Azores (our first event in this series). There, from the very first kilometers of the distance we demonstrated our speed, having 42 seconds gap from our classmates – it was very easy. But at the race penultimate stage we just caught the earthwork parapet in reverse, tightly hanging on it… Based on the last season, we can definitely write a book with the title “What the FIA European Rally Championship first-timers should not do” if we collect all our mistakes. The biggest irony is that at the beginning of the year we made the main bet on the gravel stages, but were able to get all scoring points at the asphalt rallies, where our experience was minimal. We got the first “gravel” points for the last stage – Rally Liepāja.
Summing up the season results, we have received a lot of food for thoughts. Now it is necessary to calm down a bit and wait for the new regulations to appear, to form a carefully weighed decision about our participation in the next racing season. We are negotiating with Eurosport about attracting more participants to our standings in order to make it more interesting. Our decision to participate depends in part on what changes will be made to the ERC2 regulations.
I would like to thank everyone who supported us. Of course the season result is not only our crew outcome, but also the sequence of Aleksey Lukyanuk’s coaching work, the Prospeed Team result that served the sports car and drove from the westernmost to the easternmost point of Europe with us. Great thanks to our families who understood our absence and to companies where we work that also “treated us with understanding” and allowed to travel to Europe. I’m happy the season is over. But 24 hours after the race finish I start to feel sad a little and want to drive again!”
Now we can summarize the FIA European Rally Championship results in our categories. Pole Kajetan Kajetanowicz (145 points) became the overall Champion third time in a row; Alexey Lukyanuk with Alexey Arnautov scored 73 points (victory in Spain, second place in the Czech Republic) and finished the season fourth in the overall standings; Sergey Remennik and Mark Rozin secured the third place in ERC-2 (114 points, four podiums), and Hungarian Tibor Erdi became the Champion in this category.
Alexey Lukyanuk, Ford Fiesta R5, overall ERC standings, “The season was not very successful, but there were good moments in it as we are staying in the European Rally Championship. The pros of the season are people believe in us, and we have new partners we are very thankful to. Fortunately, these are wise and generous people who see that our mistakes are not crazy riding and lack of responsibility, but rather a combination of circumstances. RPM, Qiwi, Pirelli, Hortex, Coolstream, H-Racing and many others, to whom we are immensely grateful, are still with us. It is clear that the human factor was, is and will be, but, nevertheless, this year the most unexpected things happened to us. I can’t say we are driving beyond the bounds, always risk, and fail because of it. No, there is a margin. We will pay even more attention to psychology, vigilance, concentration of attention at this level. Next year we will get back to the fight and drive the season in the FIA European Rally Championship. It is necessary to do much: find the budget, work with the team, and whip ourselves into shape. These positive moments motivate me, and we are waiting for a new season!”