*SEAJETS-backed Portuguese in front as Lukyanuk hits trouble during dramatic day
*Legendary Greek rally lives up to reputation as tough and demanding event
*Érdi Jr maintains ERC2 advantage, rookie Ghosh moves in front in ERC3
Bruno Magalhães mastered the tough and demanding all-gravel stages in style to hold a strong lead on the EKO Acropolis Rally, the third event of the all-action FIA European Rally Championship season.
Rock-strewn stages and high tyre wear meant balancing speed with safety, a compromise SEAJETS-backed Magalhães achieved perfectly on leg two. He won Saturday morning’s second and third stages to establish a 53.7s lead, which he extended to 1m04.7s by day’s end.
But while the Portuguese got his ARC Sport ŠKODA Fabia R5 to the overnight halt in Lamia out in front, it was a different story for championship leader Alexey Lukyanuk, whose bid for a third consecutive ERC victory – and a first in Greece – unravelled when he retired his Ford Fiesta R5 with suspension damage on Saturday’s second stage. Lukyanuk, from Russia, plans to restart on Sunday’s final leg when collecting maximum stage points will be his main goal.
In the battle for victory on Sunday’s final leg, Magalhães will face opposition from multiple Hungarian champion Norbert Herczig – who is second overnight for the MOL Racing Team – and rising Polish star Hubert Ptaszek, completing the provisional podium in a third Fabia after a late puncture hit Grzegorz Grzyb’s hopes of finishing in the Acropolis top three for the second year running. Tibor Érdi Jr heads ERC2 with India’s Amittrajit Ghosh the driver to beat in ERC3 on his series debut.