Rallye Açores: third podium finish for LOTOS Rally Team in four rounds of FIA ERC 2015;
Kajetanowicz and Baran leave Azores as second-placed crew in European Rally Championship;
The Polish crew comfortably defeated two-time Rallye Açores winner and seven-time Azorean rally champion;
15 of 17 special stages finished in top three: quick and consistent pace of Kajetanowicz in his first gravel outing in the last 8 months;
LOTOS Rally Team driver holds second place in FIA ERC Gravel Master classification.
In the 50th edition of Rallye Açores, which ended on the 6th of June, Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Jarek Baran – in their second outing in this event – showed impressive performance right from the start, outpacing many rivals with much greater experience in European Rally Championship. The Polish crew also had the edge over Portuguese opponents, including pre-rally favourites: two-time Rallye Açores winner Bruno Magalhães and seven-time Azorean rally champion Ricardo Moura.
Thrilling and close-fought battle between the Polish crew and Craig Breen/Scott Martin was the highlight of a fierce competition on São Miguel Island. Irrespective of surface or weather conditions, Kajetanowicz and Baran finished the stages right at the top of the timing sheets, swapping the lead with Breen several times and repeatedly resisting the challenge of Peugeot factory driver. Kajto and Jarek won four stages over the course of the rally and recorded further 11 top three finishes. Ford Fiesta R5 with starting number 2 went quickest on extremely demanding 29-kms Sete Cidades stage, running around volcanic lakes, and also on treacherously slippery and undulating Feteiras stage. Kajto and Jarek became also uncrowned champions of superspecial Grupo Marques, broadcasted live on TV and internet. The Polish duo set the pace on this spectacular test for the third and fourth time in a row.
In the three previous rounds of FIA ERC Kajetan and Jarek amassed 75 points. After fierce battle in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean LOTOS Rally Team added further 28 points to their tally and the Polish crew maintained second place in overall standings of the oldest rally series in the world, increasing the advantage over third-placed rivals, Robert Consani and Maxime Vilmot.
There is a broad smile on my face when I see how many fans and supporters we have here. At all times I noticed that we brought them a lot of positive emotions and at the same time we gained so much experience. The whole LOTOS Rally Team has done an excellent job and I am very grateful for that. I would like to thank our opponents as well, we enjoyed terrific and extremely tight battle. I am already dreaming of coming back to Azores. We will do our best in order to get another chance of competing on São Miguel Island. If we come here next time, for sure we will be even stronger. Second place in this exhausting and tough rally is an excellent result. Great fight that we had with Craig Breen, Ricardo Moura, Bruno Magalhães or Robert Consani amid the stunning landscape of Azores was a perfect promotion of rallying. For us it was a fantastic event on a fantastic, beautiful island. I am happy because we drove very quickly and we showed good, consistent pace which we are going to maintain. We want to regain the lead in FIA European Rally Championship and this is our goal for the next rallies in which we will compete.
Rallye Açores is a unique event, with 50 years of tradition. The route configuration and volcanic surface are very specific and unusual. Every single stage is different and on each one the rhythm or gravel characteristics change frequently. The highlight of the rally is Sete Cidades test, running around a volcanic caldera. This place and this scenery make a huge impression on everyone. This trial is extremely technical, with irregular rhythm, and all these things put together give you a big load of unique emotions.