|Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov
Italian tyre firm Pirelli has dominated the all-gravel Rally Estonia, claiming a one-two-three finish on the latest round of the FIA European Rally Championship.
This monopoly of the podium has underlined Pirelli’s ability to secure top results for its clients on every surface, in all sorts of conditions. Against factory-backed opposition, the Pirelli drivers dominated the action right from the beginning of the rally, showcasing the wide-ranging capabilities of the renowned Scorpion tyres on flat-out stages where the average speed was close to 130kph.
The event was won by the Russian duo of Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, who led from the very first stage – despite incurring a 10-second jump-start penalty on SS6. They eventually beat the Polish crew of Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Jaroslaw Baran by just 12.7 seconds, while the Estonian duo of Rainer Aus and Simo Koskinen (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) were third, 1m07.0s behind the leaders.
This result elevates Kajetanowicz into the lead of the FIA European Rally Championship, overhauling the factory-backed Peugeot of Craig Breen. The next round of the European series is the Barum Czech Rally Zlin, from August 28-30.
The Rally del Casentino also took place in Italy last weekend, the third round of the International Rally Challenge, with no fewer than 18 WRC cars among the 130 competitors on the entry list. These included World Rally Championship star Lorenzo Bertelli, as well as former Tour de Corse winner Stephane Sarrazin, each driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Under completely different circumstances to Estonia, with baking hot asphalt roads as well as stages run at night, Pirelli triumphed once more, thanks to the ex-works Hyundai i20 WRC of Corrado Fontana and Nicola Arena. For the Italian, it was his third win in as many rallies.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “This weekend we’ve won on gravel and on asphalt, on two completely different surfaces. Estonia is not only the fastest event on the European Rally Championship, but it’s one of the fastest rallies anywhere in the world, which requires extreme performance from the tyres from start to finish. The benefits of our Scorpion product are clear to see in the fact that we monopolised the podium with two completely different types of car, against strong opposition. Casentino was an entirely different type of rally, but our performance on asphalt is just as strong: one of the reasons why our P Zero road car tyres – derived from motorsport technology – are the favoured original equipment choice for the majority of supercar manufacturers.”
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