Bruno Magalhães extends ERC lead after finishing runner-up at Acropolis Rally

The Acropolis Rally (2nd to 4th June) was the third round of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) and saw high drama and fine results for the FABIA R5 drivers taking part.

Despite the Acropolis Rally not being part of the European Junior Under 28 Rally Championship, Sports Racing Technology’s Russian pairing of Nikolay Gryazin / Yaroslav Fedorov were nonetheless taking part.

And they had made an impressive start, winning the opening stage and leading the event up to the end of stage 5 when disaster struck. On the liaison section between stages 5 and 6 the car caught fire and was completely destroyed, inevitably forcing the pair out of the rally. Despite the setback, Gryazin was adamant they would be back for the next round of the ERC in Cyprus in two weeks.

Nikolay Gryazin / Yaroslav Fedorov, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Sports Racing Technologies. Acropolis Rally 2017

Gryazin did still win the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy, but that will be scant consolation for the ambitious young Russian.

Elsewhere, Bruno Magalhães and Hugo Magalhães put in another assured performance to secure second place overall and consolidate their lead at the top of the ERC standings.

The Portuguese pairing won one stage but finished in the top 3 on a further eight as their assured and consistent performance helped them to the top of the standings for a couple of stages. Despite a few problems in the final leg, there were still able to secure a place on the podium as their rivals fell by the wayside.

Bruno Magalhães / Hugo Magalhães, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Bruno Magalhães. Acropolis Rally 2017

Just behind Magalhães, in third place overall, was the Polish pairing of Grzegorz Grzyb / Jakub Wróbel. Driving a FABIA R5 car prepared and run by the Eurosol Racing Team, but in the colours of the Rufa Sport team, this was Grzyb first ever drive at this event and matched his best ever ERC performances, when he also finished third at the Rajd Polski in 2012 and the Rajd Rzeszowski last year.

They benefitted here from a fast finish in the final three stages as two third place finishes on stages 10 and 11, followed by a second place finish on the final stage, helped to catapult them up from sixth place onto the podium.

Grzegorz Grzyb / Jakub Wróbel, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Rufa Sport. Acropolis Rally 2017

A little further down the field, in fifth place overall, were the Greek pairing of Socratis Tsolakidis / Harris Dimos. Tsolakidis, who was the Greek Rally Champion back in 2003, was not competing for ERC points, but only in the Greek Rally Championship standings.

He secured victory on the Saturday leg of the rally, which was the second round of the Greek Rally Championship, to secure his second win in just two starts in a FABIA R5 (the first being at the 2016 Rally Deth).

Socratis Tsolakidis / Harris Dimos, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Socratis Tsolakidis. Acropolis Rally 2017

Whilst several FABIA R5 drivers benefitted from the misfortune of others on the final stage, there were a couple of drivers who were not so fortunate.

The Team Greece pairing of Yorgo Philippedes / Leonidas Mahaeras were driving a FABIA R5 prepared and run by Motorsport Italia. They were in the running for a podium place before an accident on the final stage forced them out of the rally.

Likewise, Albert von Thurn und Taxis / Bjorn Degandt were on course for a seventh place finish before rolling their FABIA R5 and being forced out just one kilometre from the end of the final stage.

Meanwhile, to cap a bad weekend all round for the Motorsport Italia team, Max Redina didn’t even make it to the start of the rally after having his FABIA R5 stolen before the event.

The European Rally Championship will resume in just two weeks with the Cyprus Rally taking place from 16th to 18th June. It will do well to match the events of the Acropolis Rally for sheer drama and excitement.

Success for Gustavo Saba at the Rally de Santani in Paraguay

Gustavo Saba secured his first overall victory of the year at the third round of the Paraguayan Rally Championship, the Rally de Santani (2nd to 4th June).

Saba, who alongside co-driver Fernando Mussano, was driving a FABIA R5 for his own Saba Competicion team, was forced to retire from the opening round of the Paraguayan championship at the Rally del Guairá. He then finished first in the Paraguayan standings, but second overall at the Rally Trans Itapúa, which was also a round of the CODASUR South American Rally Championship.

Despite this, Saba led the Paraguayan championship standings coming into this event and so has extended his lead in his home series. He had to work hard for his victory here at the Rally de Santani though, finishing just 13.4 seconds ahead of his closest rival Alejandro Galanti.

Gustavo Saba / Fernando Mussano, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Gustavo Saba. Rally Santani 2017

There was also a strong performance from the FABIA R5 of Tiago Weiler / Diego Cagnotti. They finished fourth overall and missed out on a podium place by just 19.9 seconds.

Weiler too had to retire from the Rally del Guairá but finished third in the Paraguayan standings and fourth overall at the Rally Trans Itapúa in the second round of the championship.

The next round of the Paraguayan Rally Championship will be the Rally de Caaguazú from 30th June to 2nd July.


There was a first victory in a FABIA R5 for Abdo Feghali / Marc Haddad at the Jezzine Rally, the second round of the Lebanon Rally Championship. Abdo, who finished 1 minute and 8 seconds ahead of this brother Roger who was second, was driving in only his third rally in a FABIA R5. He had previously secured a second place finish at last year’s Rally of Lebanon.

In the third round of the Romanian Rally Championship, the Raliul Aradului, the ŠKODA România Motorsport crew of Dan Gîrtofan / Tudor Marza were a whisker away from victory as they led from the start to the penultimate stage of the rally, before being pipped on the final stage to end up in second place overall. “We really thought we could win this rally,” said a disappointed Dan Gîrtofan at the finish. “We started well and going into the final stage on the same time, we knew it would be crucial. Our confidence was high, but it wasn’t to be. Perhaps we were a bit tired as it has been a tough week. But we still earned some importance points to keep us in championship contention.”

Yves Saint Requier / François Gilbert won the Rallye Régional du Marquenterre in the French Rally Cup in their FABIA R5 by a margin of 13.4 seconds. It was just Requier’s second drive in the car after spending his entire career in French cars. In his first FABIA R5 outing at the Rallye National de la Lys he took second place overall and a win in the R5 class.

Elsewhere in the French Cup, Fabiano Lo Fiego won on his first drive in a FABIA R5 at the Rallye National du Pays Viganais, securing first place overall alongside co-driver Angelo Lo Fiego.

The Ronde Nationale de la Giraglia was also a French Cup event as well as the fifth round of the French D2 (Division 2) Rally Championship. Anthony Puppo secured third place overall and first in the R5 class in his FABIA R5 alongside co-driver Fabrice Gordon. Meanwhile, Jean-Matthieu Leandri / Anthony Gorguilo steered their FABIA R5 to fifth overall and third in the R5 class.

Again in France, the Rallye National des Vins Mâcon was the sixth round of the French D2 Rally Championship and another French Cup event. This rally saw three FABIA R5s in the top 4 overall, as Laurent Lecki / Jérémy Lamur finished second overall and first in the R5 class. It was Lecki’s second rally in a FABIA R5 and he won on his debut in the car at the Rallye Régional du Pays Avallonnais. Behind them, in third place overall and second in the R5 class, were Thierry Monnet / Cédric Hugonnot on their first drive in a FABIA R5, while Nicolas Hernandez / Julien Pesenti had to settle for fourth overall and third in the R5 standings.

In the Italian regional championship (Zone 7) part of the Rally del Salento, there was a victory for the Casarano Rally Team’s FABIA R5 of Fernando Primiceri / Mauro Plantera. They finished 1 minute and 3 seconds ahead of their nearest rivals in what was just Primiceri’s second ever drive in a FABIA R5.

On to Sweden and there was a third place finish overall for Kjell Sandberg / Göran Lönnmark at the Heda Gästabudstrofén in round 2 of the Swedish Rally Cup. Sandberg has been enjoying his first season in the FABIA R5 having already secured two other podium places in Swedish events this year, at the Majpokalen and LBC-Ruschen.

And lastly, to Ireland and the Circuit of Munster Stages Rally where Desi Henry / Liam Moynihan finished seventh overall, but second in the R5 class in their FABIA R5. The event was the fourth round of the Ireland National Rally Championship, but for Desi Henry, it was more part of his preparation for the next round of the British Rally Championship, which will be the Ypres Rally in Belgium (23rd to 24th June).


Date Rally Surface
8-11 June Rally Italia Sardegna World Rally Championship Round 7 Gravel
9-10 June SM O.K. Auto-Ralli Finnish Rally Championship Round 5 Gravel
9-10 June Rally Vidreiro Portuguese Rally Championship Round 6 Asphalt
9-10 June Rallye du Limousin French Tarmac Rally Championship Round 4 Asphalt
9-11 June Székesfehérvár Rallye Hungarian Rally Championship Round 5 Asphalt
10-11 June Rallye de Ourense Spanish Rally Championship Round 4 Asphalt
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