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Bouffier out, Gryazin leads amid gearbox concerns

Vasily Gryazin is the new leader of round two of the FIA European Rally Championship following Bryan Bouffier’s exit from Rally Liepāja.

- Vasily Gryazin (Aigars Tidmanis,

The Frenchman stopped midway through the 32.03-kilometre Kuldīga test in his Citroën DS3 RRC, which appears to have suffered a mechanical failure.

While Gryazin (Sports Racing Technologies Ford Fiesta S2000) now leads the ERC winter extravaganza after going 14.8s faster than closest rival Esapekka Lappi managed in his ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, the Russian confirmed all was not well with his car at the remote service halt in Kuldīga, 80 kilometres north of the event base in Liepāja.

“Sometimes we don’t have fifth gear and now on road section coming to service second gear has a strange sound,” said Gryazin. “This is only a remote service and we cannot change the gearbox. We have to go with this.”

Despite the gearbox issue troubling him through stage two, Gryazin was able to make the most of his lowly starting position of 17th, which he selected in Liepāja yesterday afternoon.

Heavy overnight snow has made it difficult for the drivers running further up the order to find grip and traction with several runners suffering significant time loss as they struggled to stay on the road.

“I have never seen anything like that,” said Breen, who was third quickest on the stage and holds the final podium spot in the overall standings, 3.3s down on second-placed Lappi and 26.3s behind Gryazin. “You get into a rhythm and then the car throws you off. It is such deep snow, it is really difficult.”

ERC Production Car Cup runner Mārtinš Svilis impressed with the fourth fastest time in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX with Kajetan Kajetanowicz setting the fifth best time in his LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5.

Leading ERC Junior Jan Černý also impressed by following up on his opening stage win in the category by going sixth fastest of all at the wheel of his Peugeot 208 R2. After stage two, the Czech leads Swede Mattias Olsson by 20.3s.

SS3, Ecorent 1, gets underway at 13:40hrs local time and measures 26.34 kilometres in length. Click here for live results and text commentary, follow the ERC on Facebook and Twitter and tune in to ERC Rally Radio for live stage-end reports.