23/10/2021 20:55

Nikolay Gryazin has completed the opening leg of Rally Hungary in the lead, while Norbert Herczig is on course for a home podium following another action-packed day in the FIA European Rally Championship.

With seven stages run, Gryazin, with co-driver Konstantin Aleksandrov by his side, is 25.8s in front of Herczig as a late charge from Mads Østberg has enabled the Norwegian to complete the overnight top three with a 2.6s advantage over defending Hungarian champion András Hadik. Efrén Llarena was fifth after seven stages but a 10s penalty for a jumped start means it’s Miko Marczyk who completes the top five overnight, despite a driveshaft failure slowing him down on SS4.

ERC champion-elect Andreas Mikkelsen has also had his share of problems on route to completing leg one in seventh. After he overcame a power issue this morning, a damaged front-right tyre caused the Škoda-powered Toksport WRT driver further delay on SS7. With leg bonus points handed to the top-five drivers only, Mikkelsen hasn’t quite done enough to put the title beyond rivals Llarena and Marczyk.

“We had some issues with the wastegate, there was a wire broken,” Mikkelsen said of his morning woes. “Why it happened I’m not sure but basically there was less power through [stages three and four] and I’m happy it was not more serious and we could continue. We have good engineers who sent us good videos so we knew what to look for but left completely alone I’m not sure if we’d know what to do. We will push hard but we have to think about the championship so we need to find a good mix.”

Apart from a moment on SS4, it’s been a day without major issue for Gryazin, who is making his Rally Hungary debut and in contention to claim his second ERC win this season.

“We must continue to work but still be on the safe side because it’s easy to get a puncture,” Gryazin said. “Without knowing the stages it’s so difficult because you don’t know if there will be cuts and it’s very difficult to approach the narrow roads. If you push too much it’s very easy to go on the outside of the corner and break something. You don’t need to be on the fastest pace but you need to be consistent.”

Despite a damaged tyre on SS3, Javier Pardo’s bid for a fifth consecutive victory in ERC2 is on track after Suzuki Motor Ibérica team-mate Joan Vinyes dropped out of first place when he went off the road and damaged the suspension on his Swift R4lly S on SS6 and retired. Ken Torn tops ERC Junior in his M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3, Jon Armstrong heads ERC3/ERC3 Junior with Martin Rada moving into the lead of the Abarth Rally Cup after an electrical issue slowed Dariusz Poloński on SS7. Paulo Soria leads the Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT order but Andrea Mabellini is edging closer to the title in third.