Lukyanuk and Kopecky 0.4s apart in ERC as Gryazin loses lead

Lukyanuk and Kopecky 0.4s apart in ERC as Gryazin loses lead

17/08/2019 at 15:06Updated 17/08/2019 at 15:13

A puncture for ERC1 Junior champion Nikolay Gryazin has ended his hopes of Barum Czech Rally Zlín victory, leaving Alexey Lukyanuk and Jan Kopecký to engage in a thrilling fight up front.

With five stages run, Lukyanuk leads Kopecký by 0.4s as the FIA European champions present and past thrill the thousands of fans watching the action in the stunning South Moravian countryside.

Gryazin (Sport Racing Technologies) had demoted Kopecký (ŠKODA Motorsport) for the lead with a rapid stage best on SS3, Semetín, 8.1s faster than home hero Kopecký, who won Friday night’s Zlín superspecial.

One stage later, Lukyanuk (Saintéloc Junior Team) moved in front on Halenkovice with a second stage win of the rally following his fastest time on SS2, with Gryazin just 0.5s behind in second.

But Gryazin, who was competing on his second of two prize drives provided by ERC promoter Eurosport Events for his ERC1 Junior title success last year, was delayed for two minutes on Kostelany as he was forced to stop and change a puncture.

“After the start it was off the rim. We didn’t hit anything. I don’t know,” explained Gryazin.

“I felt like it’s no pressure. I don’t know. [There was] no hit at all. I was driving the first part really nice and clear. We have lost everything. Now we will drive for ourselves.”

Kopecký’s first stage win since Friday’s Zlín superspecial on the loop-ending Kostelany test closed the gap to rally leader Lukyanuk down to just 0.4 seconds, as the 2013 ERC champion continues to chase his fifth consecutive Barum Czech Rally Zlín win and his eighth in total.

More to follow...