From Russia with full throttle
Some rally drivers have won more titles, but few have been more popular than Colin McRae, the 1995 world champion. “If in doubt, flat out” was his motto, and his all-or-nothing style won him fans all over the world. Now, a driver with a reputation for a similar approach has become European rally champion with Pirelli: Russia’s Alexey Lukyanuk.
There was a McRae link to Lukyanuk’s breakthrough drive five years ago on snow and ice in Latvia. On his European Rally Championship (ERC) debut behind the wheel of a production-specification Mitsubishi, Lukyanuk battled French legend Francois Delecour for third place before a damaged radiator forced him to stop.
The performance earned Lukyanuk the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy, and he picked up another when he next took on Europe’s best on Rally Estonia the following year and was the only driver to match the local hero Ott Tanak.
“We really like pushing to the limit,” he says. “Latvia and Estonia are places where you can go really flat out. I’m happy to bring some joy to the people. It drives me and I try to push harder and harder. I just like driving and it makes me happy. Once I’m at a rally it’s like I’m on holiday in the best place in the world.”