*Spanish World Rally Championship ace leads on first open for Crew MRF Tyres

*ERC aspects leader Mikkelsen 2nd after dramas within the morning rain

*Lengthy-time frame pacesetter Moura offended after mud delays him on superspecial

*Llarena simplest of the ERC-MICHELIN Skills Manufacturing facility drivers in fourth

*ERC champion Lukyanuk suffers spectacular shut to-omit

*Pardo first in ERC2, battling Franceschi tops ERC3 after Bassas crashes

The 55th Azores Rallye is decided for an exhilarating deciding day with 4.5s preserving the tip three drivers following six spectacular levels filled with high drama FIA European Rally Championship style.

Dani Sordo, riding for Crew MRF Tyres in a Hyundai i20 R5 alongside co-driver Cándido Carrera, leads ERC aspects leader Andreas Mikkelsen (Toksport WRT Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo) by 4.0s with home hero Ricardo Moura 0.5s within the encourage of in third after a dramatic climax to Friday’s frenetic action.

Azores rookie Sordo started Tronqueira, the penultimate test of day one, 29.1s within the encourage of Moura, the 10-time local champion. Nonetheless his stage-winning performance on SS5 reduce encourage Moura’s advantage to 6.4s heading to the day-closing Grupo Marques superspecial.

While Sordo made it thru the two-by-two, 4.10-kilometre test pains-free, Moura came all the arrangement in which thru his lane obscured by striking mud. “We lost plenty,” said a aggravated Moura. “On myth of the mud there had been areas we needed to forestall because we couldn’t stumble on one thing. It’s a shame.”

Nonetheless there had been no such problems for World Rally Championship ace Sordo, who begins Saturday’s six-stage route with a narrow advantage.  “It became a appropriate day and within the cease we’re in first situation,” Sordo said. “Mikkelsen is form of shut within the encourage of and Moura is like a flash however the next day will almost definitely be a sizable strive in opposition to. The prerequisites had been very tricky and it became so sophisticated to force with the fog and the rain then again it became sizable to fetch the spectators. I am very cheerful with the workforce, with the MRF Tyres. We are working very successfully and we’re getting rather quite a lot of files for the tyres. We are cheerful to attain the day in first situation and to gain a fastest stage time. The next day to come to come will almost definitely be a downside to protect in opposition to Mikkelsen but we will are attempting.”

How Moura charged to the tip of the uncover in Azores

With António Costa co-riding, Moura made essentially the most of his local knowledge on Friday morning’s loop of three levels battered by mud, wind and rain in entire distinction to the sunshine and high temperatures that fashioned a backdrop to the occasion’s fabricate-up.

Armed with an all-new Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo, Moura became fastest on the first bustle thru Graminhais and went quickest again on Lagoa de São Brás to reach noon carrier in Ponta Delgada main by 27.8s. With São Miguel island’s ever-altering weather system offering extra seasonal prerequisites within the afternoon, Moura became third fastest on the repeat of Graminhais but supplied minute resistance to Sordo’s advances on the repeat of Tronqueria as his recent lack of seat time began to indicate.

“The prerequisites had been sophisticated this morning but we have got seen it critical worse,” Moura said after three levels. “I would bellow it became mostly sophisticated for the americans coming for the first time fancy Sordo or for a truly long time fancy Mikkelsen. I do know they’ve a big margin to make bigger their dart on the 2nd loop so I am no longer letting this rigidity reach to me. I did one rally two months ago and my final rally earlier than that became two years and a half ago so it’s appropriate to be on this rhythm and it’s safe to be surrounded by the ERC drivers going at this dart. Nonetheless I do know the fact and issues can alternate very easily and this can also very successfully be sophisticated to preserve my rhythm with these guys. I do know I’m in a position to push extra but I must be sure I will have the opportunity to react.”

Sordo, essentially the simplest-placed Azores newcomer, feared he’d lost time on SS5 but outpaced Mikkelsen by 4.3s to reduce encourage Moura’s total lead to 6.4s with Grupo Marques 1 final. “It became very slippery and if it push extra I exit,” Sordo said. “Nonetheless I attain all that I’m in a position to, the tyres are working successfully but I don’t agree with rather quite a lot of abilities with the tyres and we have got to gain extra kilometres.”

Mikkelsen, who won on his final Azores appearance in 2012, is 2nd in a single day in his Toksport WRT Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo after going quickest on SS4 and SS6 alongside just as of late recruited British co-driver Elliott Edmondson.

“It became some unbelievable prerequisites,” Mikkelsen said of the Friday morning weather. “The first stage became rather foggy and raining plenty and the wipers weren’t like a flash ample to sure your total water so it became truly sophisticated to fetch one thing. Then within the 2nd stage the wipers stopped working at one point within the course of this truly slim part and I needed to walk at 5kph because I couldn’t stumble on one thing and we lost rather quite a lot of time. Nonetheless we’re mild within the game because varied americans had factors. It’s doable to push extra then again it’s so tricky and likewise you might perhaps also very successfully be continuously alarmed to steal some mud because there are so critical of issues that can steal you out, it’s truly sophisticated. This would possibly perhaps be inspiring the next day, we will positively agree with a appropriate strive in opposition to.”

Efrén Llarena, who also reported dropping time when his windscreen wipers faltered, is a sturdy fourth total and essentially the simplest of the ERC-MICHELIN Skills Manufacturing facility contenders for Rallye Crew Spain. Llarena won ERC3/ERC3 Junior on his final visit to Azores in 2019 and is 27.3s off the lead heading into Sunday’s six levels. “We tried our simplest, all americans is conscious of it’s sophisticated but we’re here and the next day will almost definitely be a protracted day,” he said.

Erik Cais, the hero of the outdated ERC spherical, Barum Czech Rally Zlín, is fifth at the cease of leg one in his Yacco ACCR Crew Ford Fiesta Rally2. “The became one thing unbelievable, truly, truly stressful and I became rather scuffling with the grip,” Cais said of the tricky morning prerequisites. “I am cheerful about our dart but on the third stage we lost a few seconds after we had heavy fog and the grip became incorrect.”

ORLEN Crew’s Miko Marczyk, who’s sixth total, described day one among his Azores Rallye debut as “one among the toughest days in my rally profession”. It became also a elaborate day for ERC champion Alexey Lukyanuk, as co-driver Alexey Arnautov explains below.

Within the encourage of Lukyanuk, who dropped time with a damaged tyre on SS1 and a spectacular shut to-omit on SS3 (click HERE to head trying what came about), Umberto Scandola is eighth for Hyundai Rally Crew Italia, with double Azorean champion Luís Rego and Mexican ERC rookie Benito Guerra rounding out the tip 10.

Azores first-timer Scandola bemoaned his resolution to bustle on stressful-compound tyres one day of the rain-hit morning loop and likewise reported a rear dealing with imbalance one day of the afternoon. Guerra, meanwhile, hit a tree with the favorable-rear of his Škoda on SS3, Lagoa De São Brás, where the dramatic morning loop concluded with a shatter for Yoann Bonato. The Frenchman became sixth after two levels but joined a listing of retirements that integrated Pedro Antunes, Adrian Chwietczuk, Norbert Herczig, Nil Solans, Rachele Somaschini and Igor Widłak, who rolled his Ford Fiesta Rally3 200 metres from the open of SS2.

With Azorean championship aspects awarded on leg one handiest, double local champion Luís Rego made finishing the outlet six levels his priority after erstwhile leader Ruben Rodrigues retired on SS1 with a damaged front-left driveshaft. Rego is ninth total and four aspects within the encourage of new Azorean championship pacesetter Rafael Botelho, who’s P11. ERC2 leader Javier Pardo is P12 adopted by Aloísio Monteiro, Luis Viariño and Victor Cartier.


Spain’s Javier Pardo is extra than three minutes within the sure in his bellow for a third ERC2 triumph for Suzuki Motor Ibérica. He heads Frenchman Victor Cartier, who became in a position to gain the open after he repaired his self-constructed Toyota Yaris Rally2 Equipment following a shatter in Thursday apply. Running first at streetlevel, ERC2 championship leader Dmitry Feofanov is third, regardless of a fraught morning. After he narrowly averted picking up a puncture on SS1, a drag on SS2 left the Latvia-essentially essentially based driver’s Suzuki Swift Rally2 Equipment with a damaged employ and a dramatic drop-off in vitality. Joan Vinyes’ Suzuki Motor Ibérica entry became down on vitality one day of the morning loop but repairs in carrier allowed the Andorran to bustle at corpulent dart within the afternoon. He’s fourth in class. Pardo said: “It became an safe day for us, handiest quite bit drama with Joan with the problems within the automotive but for the total it’s a ideal day for us but no longer straightforward with the must haves.”


Rallye Crew Spain’s Pep Bassas (Peugeot 208 Rally4) became practically one minute in front in ERC3 when he crashed out on SS5, handing the advantage to Jean-Baptiste Franceschi. The Frenchman lost time within the morning due to intercom and clutch factors but became left to stand up the pieces in his Renault Clio Rally4, regardless of finishing Grupo Marques with brake factors. “It became a truly sophisticated day with so many u.s.a.and downs,” said Franceschi. “Now we appropriate want to forestall focused and attain this rally after Bassas crashed.” Franceschi’s Toksport WRT workforce-mate Ola Jr Nore became a non-starter in his identical Clio Rally4.


Alexey Arnautov said he and co-driver Alexey Lukyanuk had been “okay and prepared to head again” following their dramatic shut to-omit on SS3. The ace Russians had been battling encourage from time lost to a damaged tyre on SS1 when they suffered a spectacular 2nd on Lagoa de São Brás aboard their Saintéloc Junior Crew Citroën C3 Rally2. “It became at the starting of the stage,” Arnautov said at noon carrier in Ponta Delgada. “There became a correct nook and we had been a minute bit sooner than needed. The automotive did no longer roll but there had been some spins, it tried to roll as successfully but thank God, there became no roll. We appropriate hit a financial institution, we’re okay and prepared to head again.” He persisted: “It became presumably a limited mistake, became it my mistake or if Alexey appropriate misheard it, I don’t agree with any thought. There’s some ruin and expectantly it’s no longer extreme and the workforce will manage, but mild we made a appropriate time.”  Of the damaged tyre on SS1, Arnautov defined what came about. “There became a rock correct within the trajectory and unfortunately it became no longer a slack puncture, [the air] became gone without prolong and we needed to forestall and alternate it. Hopefully we lost no longer too critical time. It became the front-left tyre and nearer to the cease of the stage. “We had been cheerful with [our fastest time on] SS2, we don’t fancy the must haves at all as you might perhaps also imagine, we had been hoping for much less fog and rain and the third [stage] became entirely foggy.”

PROVISIONAL TOP 15 ERC POSITIONS (after six levels, 111.90 kilometres)

1 Dani Sordo (ESP)/Cándio Carrera (ESP) Hyundai i20 R5 +1hr27m06.0s

2 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Elliott Edmondson (GBR) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo +4.0s

3 Ricardo Moura (PRT)/António Costa (PRT) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo +4.5s

4 Efrén Llarena (ESP)/Sara Fernándes (ESP) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo +27.3s M

5 Erik Cais (CZE)/Jindřiška Žáková (CZE) Ford Fiesta Rally2 +1m06.0s M

6 Miko Marczyk (POL/Szymon Gospodarczyk (POL) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo +1m06.9s M

7 Alexey Lukyanuk (RUS)/Alexey Arnautov (RUS) Citroën C3 Rally2 +1m37.9s

8 Umberto Scandola (ITA)/Danilo Fappani (ITA) Hyundai i20 R5 +2m35.4s

9 Luís Rego (PRT)/Jorge Henriques (PRT) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo +2m39.8s

10 Benito Guerra (MEX)/Daniel Cué (ESP) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo +3m14.3s

11 Rafael Botelho (PRT)/Rui Raimundo (PRT) Škoda Fabia R5 +4m31.0s

12 Javier Pardo (ESP)/Adrián Pérez (ESP) Suzuki Swift R4lly S +6m05.1s

13 Aloísio Monteiro (PRT)/Sancho Eiró (PRT) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo +7m57.3s

14 Luis Vilariño (ESP)/José Murado (ESP) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo +8m58.4s

15 Victor Cartier (FRA)/Fabien Craen (FRA) Toyota Yaris Rally2 Equipment +9m42.2s

M = Eligible for ERC-MICHELIN Skills Manufacturing facility incentives

FIA ERC2: Javier Pardo (ESP)/Adrián Pérez (ESP) Suzuki Swift R4lly S

FIA ERC3:  Jean-Baptiste Franceschi (FRA)/Anthony Gorguilo (FRA) Renault Clio Rally4

ERC-MICHELIN Skills Manufacturing facility: Efrén Llarena (ESP) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo

Are residing timing and results: https://www.fiaerc.com/are residing-timing/

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