Midday report: Bouffier holing ERC Rzeszow advantage

04 BOUFFIER Bryan (FRA)  DINI Gilbert (FRA) Ford Fiesta R5 action during the 2017 European Rally Championship Rally Rzeszowski in Poland from August 4 to 6 - Photo Wilfried Marcon / DPPI

Bryan Bouffier continues to lead Poland’s round of the FIA European Rally Championship, Rally Rzeszow.

A four-time winner of the challenging Tarmac event, Bouffier leads home hero Kajetan Kajetanowicz by 30.5s after winning two of this morning’s three stages. “It was a good morning and for now I cannot complain,” said the Gemini Clinic Rally Team driver. “I was faster than Kajto on each stage so it’s working really good.”

LOTOS Rally Team-run Kajetanowicz, whose main target is to take the lead of the European championship from Bruno Magalhães rather than pushing for a repeat Rally Rzeszow victory, said: “No mistakes, still driving fast but that was a hard loop for the tyres and also the brakes, which are absolutely hot.”

Magalhães, meanwhile, is P10 overall as he continues to battle set-up and confidence issues.  “It’s good work for next year when I hope to come back. It’s a tough weekend. We knew it would be very difficult for us and all the time you lose you never like. There are a lot of drivers who are fast in one rally but not in the other.”

Marijan Griebel is the new leader of the ERC Junior Under 28 Championship category after overnight pacesetter Nikolay Gryazin crashed out on stage six. The German is third overall and 22.3s ahead of local driver Grzegorz Grzyb in fourth.

Sylvain Michel is fifth overall and second in ERC Junior U28, albeit 47.7s behind after making mistakes on all three stages this morning. Class rival José Suárez is next and boosted by his outright best time on stage seven for Peugeot Rally Academy. Łukasz Habaj, Josh Moffett, Tomasz Kasperczyk are seventh, eighth and ninth respectively.

World championship star Mads Østberg started leg two in sixth overall and intent on pushing for victory on his ERC return. However, a front-left puncture ended those hopes and he withdrew on the road section after stage seven due to concerns over the powersteering on his Ford Fiesta R5. “I want to enjoy and have fun but I’m scared all the time but I’m not confident with the car,” he said.

Jari Huttunen continues to hold a comfortable margin in ERC Junior Under 27 and ERC3 despite complaining of a brake fault on his Opel ADAM R2. Tibor Érdi Jr leads ERC2.

Following a 30-minute service halt in Rzeszów, the re-run of the Lubenia stage gets underway at 13h30 local time.