1st Round, Azores Airlines Rallye 2018 | Surface: Gravel | Special Stages: 15 | Date: March 22-24, 2018
Alexey Lukyanuk began his 2018 ERC campaign by winning the season opener, Portugal’s Azores Airlines Rallye, on March 22-24. The Russian driver took the lead at the rally’s second Special Stage and eventually dominated the first round of the 2018 FIA European Rally Championship.
Following Lukyanuk all the way to the podium, 10-time Azorean champion Ricardo Moura and Bruno Magalhaes came close to winning on home soil, but had no answer for the winner’s rapid pace on the sandy surface and narrow roads of the mid-Atlantic archipelago’s largest island of São Miguel.
On the final day, Lukyanuk found a way to drive around brake issues caused by a leaking caliper to win Saturday morning’s two long stages, nearly doubling his lead ahead of second placed Moura to 37.8s. After that, Moura’s push for the win ended when he clobbered a bank and spun his Fabia R5, while Magalhaes lost more that half a minute with a broken rear differential.