Andreas Mikkelsen / E. Edmondson won the Azores Rally 2021
The Norwegian crew was the first to reach the final of the 13-stage rally with a time of 2:32:31.5. It was not until the 8th stage that Andreas Mikkelsen took the lead, after betting on safe driving without taking unnecessary risks. The persistence with the small differences paid off for the crew of the Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo.
Dani Sordo / C. Carrera Hyundai i20 R5 was left without a victory again in 14.8 seconds. Third place went to Spaniards Efren Llarena / Sara Fernandez with a Skoda Fabia Rally 2 Evo with a long gap of 1:06.5 and only 3.2 seconds ahead of the Portuguese crew Ricardo Moura / Antonio Costa Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo, who were even leaders and had a chance on the podium .
Alexey Lukyanuk / Alexey Arnautov The Citroën C3 Rally2 was the main threat to Mikkelsen, arguing for the championship title. But luck had left the Russians even in the first stage, where they burst a tire and lost a minute and 48 seconds. There was a strong ambition to return to the fight, where in CE2 Tronqueira 1 (21.89 km) Alexey Lukyanuk finished first with a lead of 14.5 seconds ahead of second Ricardo Moura despite the unexpected rain on the track.
After a minor accident in the third stage, Lukyanuk still continued to confidently climb to the 8th position.
From the rain on a dusty track at the end of the first day made it so that Lukyanuk slightly lost the rhythm, while Mikkelsen and Sordo, who led had no problems.
The start of Saturday started with two flat tires for Alexey Lukyanuk, which evaporated the ambitions for a good ranking.
The lack of spare tires stopped Lukyanuk from racing. Here is what he said:
“We had two slow punctures,” he said. “We felt one in the middle [but] I was thinking maybe to drive to the end [of the stage]. I understood we would lose 40-50 seconds [but] in the past we had problems after driving on a flat tyre so we decided to change it. At the moment we started to do that the mood was completely down because it was obvious that we cannot fight for any points today so we didn’t push too much to make it fast. We let [Miko] Marczyk go and then we started and in the end of the stage I had a suspicious feeling we had another slow puncture on the rear and in the last corner of the stage it was obvious that we had two. The plan was to go fast and try to be as fast as possible, that’s why we took only one spare.”
The choice of tires proved decisive for the fight in the forehead, Sordo had a fragile lead of only 1.6 seconds.
Mikkelsen and Sordo exchanged headlines during the day, fighting hard.
Three rallies remain until the end of the championship this year, the next being Rally-Serras-de-fafe-e-Felgueiras-2021 again in Portugal.
In the championship Andreas Mikkelsen is leading with 136 points, followed by Efren Llarena (ESP) with 102 points, Miko Marczyk (POL) with 95 points.