Alexey Lukyanuk made it two FIA European Rally Championship titles in three years on Rally Islas Canarias yesterday**. Having campaigned a Pirelli-equipped Citroën C3 R5 for the Saintéloc Junior Team, this is what the 39-year-old St Petersburg resident had to say following his latest success alongside co-driver and fellow Russian Alexey Arnautov.
What does a second ERC title mean to you?
“Of course, it’s a very precious and valuable achievement. It would have been nice of course to have fought for this result [on the stages] but we knew we didn’t need to be in front of Oliver [Solberg], we needed to be behind and this would be enough.”
How hard did you have to work for this second title?
“There was so much work before, now it’s history. Of course, it was a long, tough season with all the things going on in the world but I’m really happy with a successful finish of the rally and of the season.”
Did you feel under pressure to deliver this weekend?
“Actually, no big pressure on myself, I was more tense and worried before Hungary to be honest because the rally is very tricky and unpredictable even though we faced rain here. The line-up was very strong with so much fast drivers.”
Alexey Arnautov returned to co-drive you for the season finale. How important was that?
“We won here three times and it feels really good to come back here with Alexey. There is a saying, ‘what you need to do to make a man happy, you need to take something valuable from him and give it back’. This is the situation for me. I really enjoy our relations, the atmosphere inside the car. It’s not just about reading pacenotes, he’s a very good friend of mine and I was happy he was back.”
You claimed standout wins on Rally di Roma Capitale and Rally Fafe Montelongo after some great drives. Is this this the best you’ve driven?
“I am happy with my driving in general, maybe not [on Rally Islas Canarias], but during the season it was strong with solid performances and pretty reliable. We have improved but it’s not easy to fight with limited resources although so far it’s worked. It will be harder and harder in the future so we will have to adjust.”
Who do you credit for your latest European championship?
“This title would not be possible without the support of Citroën, Total, Saintéloc and Pirelli. For Citroën this is their first FIA European Rally Championship [in the Rally2 class] and for Pirelli it’s also important to be on top. But there are many personal sponsors and partners we must also thank because it’s not easy to compete in these hard times. We must also thank our fans and our families for all their support.”
“The World Rally Championship is of course something what we always wanted but were always a bit apart with our resources. The conditions in the world are not easy and we cannot predict how it will be. So, to be honest, I really have no idea what happens next. We just need to keep doing our job.”
Recent ERC champions
2020: Alexey Lukyanuk (Russia)
2019: Chris Ingram (Great Britain)
2018: Alexey Lukyanuk (Russia)
2017: Kajetan Kajetanowicz (Poland)
2016: Kajetan Kajetanowicz (Poland)
2015: Kajetan Kajetanowicz (Poland)
2014: Esapekka Lappi (Finland)
2013: Jan Kopecký (Czech Republic)
2012: Juho Hänninen (Finland)
2011: Luca Rossetti (Italy)
**Subject to confirmation of the final results