Alexey Lukyanuk might be catching up when he begins his 2021 FIA European Rally Championship title defence on ORLEN 77th Rally Poland this week but there will be no letting up when it comes to the Russian Rocket’s bravery and commitment.
The two-time ERC champion hasn’t competed on gravel since Rally Liepāja last August and his only pre-season test won’t take place until this Wednesday, such are the restricted budgets even the best drivers in the business have to make work.

But Lukyanuk, who won Rally Poland when it last took place in 2019, won’t let his lack of testing opportunities stand in the way of a strong result aboard his Saintéloc Junior Team Citroën C3 Rally2.

“We are used to play that game,” said Lukyanuk. “I know many guys test for days and weeks, we have one day. We have tight competition in front of us with new, very strong, ambitious young and experienced drivers. It’s been a pretty long time [since I last drove on gravel] but I hope I can still drive it fast. If I am able to be fast I will be happy.”

Although Lukyanuk’s 2018 Rally Poland ended in a spectacular crash after he had already clinched his first ERC title, his return the following season resulted in an impressive victory alongside co-driver Alexey Arnautov.

“I really like the stages, they’re fast and technical at the same time, narrow, sandy and pretty demanding,” said Lukyanuk. “I would say I enjoy it the most [because the] stages are really exciting to drive, you need to be really committed, brave, believe your pacenotes and just push in the bush!”

While seat time will be at a premium for Lukyanuk, has been doing everything possible to be on top form when the ERC season begins on June 18.

“As always I try to maximise my fitness, no alcohol, do good cardio, different exercises, some sim training and there should be one test day,” Lukyanuk explained.
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