ERC title contender Alexey Lukyanuk has opened up a lead of 20 seconds over Ferenc Vincze following the first loop of stages on Rally Hungary.
Tied on times after the opening superspecial stage at Rabócsiring on Friday evening, the pair continued their battle on the first real test, the 19.95km Újhuta-Nyíri stage this morning.
Vincze edged that by a mere eight-tenths of a second, but Lukyanuk (Saintéloc Junior Team) produced a sensational time on SS3 (Füzér-Abaújvári elágazás) to move into the lead by 18.2s.
A further quickest time on SS4 (Mád-Disznókö) means the Russian in his Citroën C3 R5 arrives at service with a lead of 20.7s over Vincze.
Vincze was lucky to not be further adrift at the end of SS4 after suffering a puncture on the right-rear of his Korda Racing Team Skoda Fabia R5. The Hungarian only lost 2.5s to Lukyanuk and remains firmly in the hunt for overall victory.
Points leader Chris Ingram maintained his third place over the opening loop after “not taking any risks” in his Toksport Fabia R5. The British driver is just 1.2s ahead of recently-crowned ERC1 Junior champion Filip Mareš.
Having set the fourth fastest time on SS1, American Sean Johnston endured an up-and-down morning in his Saintéloc Junior Team Citroën. He suffered a front-left puncture on the opening test, dropping over a minute and is now in 11thposition heading into the second loop.
Local favourite Norbert Herczig was another to fall foul of the tricky road conditions as he too suffered a front-left puncture. The four-time Hungarian national champion estimated that his tyre went down “about 4km from the finish”, in addition to an intercom issue during the opening stage of the morning.
That mean that Callum Devine maintains his fifth place, ahead of Frigyes Turán, the latter surviving a half-spin on SS3 in the damp conditions.
András Hadik is eighth ahead of the recovering Łukasz Habaj, who suffered a crash in Friday morning’s practice session. Habaj, who is one of three contenders for the ERC title this weekend, is over two minutes off the pace of Lukyanuk.
There was drama in the Abarth Rally Cup even before the opening stage of the day as Andrea Nucita (Loran) failed to take the start following suspected electrical issues in his Fiat 124 Abarth RGT. This allowed Dariusz Polónski to assume the lead of the class, but not before his own issues. The Pole stopped on stage in SS2, but is still going in his Rallytechnology-prepared car.
The second loop of the opening leg of Rally Hungary is scheduled to start at 14:42 CET