Lukyanuk holds small lead over Sirmacis midway through first leg of ERC Rally Estonia
Alexey Lukyanuk leads Ralfs Sirmacis by 6.8 seconds at the midway point of leg one on auto24 Rally Estonia, round six of the FIA European Rally Championship.
Following his win on the Tartu city stage last night, Lukyanuk was then quickest on the first two stages of the morning in his Ford Fiesta R5, opening up a lead of nine seconds over Egon Kaur and 10 over Sirmacis.
Sirmacis, who won in ERC Junior in Estonia 12 months ago, was then quickest on the second runs through the Kengu and Raiga stages to move into second and cut the gap to Lukyanuk, who lost time when he missed a braking point on SS5.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX driver Kaur remains in a podium position but has only 1.7s in hand on reigning ERC champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz. The Polish driver is 17.1s away from title rival Lukyanuk.
Kaur is 14.3s ahead of his closest ERC2 rival and fellow Evo IX driver Rainer Aus, who is fifth overall. Siim Plangi was ahead of Aus in his Evo X before stopping with a mechanical issue on SS4.
Another local ace Raul Jeets moved up to sixth on SS5 past Japanese driver Hiroki Arai, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Challenge driver who made a bright start to his ERC debut but now only has 0.1s in hand over Jarosłav Kołtun, who gained in speed during the morning. His fellow Polish Fiesta driver Łukasz Habaj is close behind in ninth, with Aron Domżała rounding out the top 10.
Jaromír Tarabus stopped on the road section to service prior to the first stage after a huge rock broke his radiator on the Qualifying Stage, in turn terminally damaging the engine. Arai's team-mate Takamoto Katsuta rolled after an off into a ditch on SS3.
Miko-Ove Niinemäe has led ERC Junior throughout the morning, but an error under braking on SS5 reduced his lead over Nikolay Gryazin to just 2.5s.
Points leader Chris Ingram is 10.3s further back in third, 2.9s ahead of fellow ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team driver Marijan Griebel.
The remainder of the first leg features the Rüa and Arula stages run twice followed a spectator stage in the town of Elva.