Bouffier easily wins Polish ERC round
38-year old French Fiesta driver, Bryan Bouffier, walked away with the two-day Rzeszow Rally, his first European Rally Championship win for four years.
The event was run in extremely high temperatures in Poland, where he has three times been national champion.
The rally was noted for a considerable number of accidents which on the first day led to a high level of cancelled stage distance, especially for later running crews.
This event saw the return to competition for the Russian driver Alexey Lukyanuk, still recovering after suffering very serious injuries in a testing collision crash four months earlier.
He won the pre-event Shakedown, was fastest on the first stage but rolled off the road on the second. This allowed ERC guest driver Mads Ostberg to take the lead, but he had a series of misfortunes, starting with loss of brakes, followed by power steering failure, and ultimately by delay when he punctured and had to change a wheel in a stage.
On stage four Bouffier went into the lead he held to the finish. He was heading Nikolay Gryazin before Kajetan Kajetanowicz moved up to second place. Third placed Gryazin then rolled.
Finally in third place was Marijan Griebel who comfortably won the Under 28 category ahead of fellow Peugeot driver Sylvain Martin, while Peugeot Rally Academy driver Jose Suarez was third.
Leading all the way in the R2 car Under 27 category was Jari Huttunen, fresh from his win in the R5 WRC2 category the previous weekend in Neste Rally Finland, challenged initially by fellow Opel Adam driver Chris Ingram.
There was drama at the end of the final stage when the ERC2 leading Tibor Erdi suffered a burst gearbox right at the end of the final stage and could not make the drive to the finish, gifting the result to fellow Mitsubishi driver Zelindo Melegari.
Drivers who retired off the road included Suarez’s teammate Jose Lopez and ERC lady championship drivers Emma Falcon and Katie Munnings.
– Martin Holmes