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Kajetanowicz takes third ERC title

The Polish duo of Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Jarosław Baran have clinched their third consecutive European Rally Championship title – the first crew to do so in the series’ 64-year history.

Over the course of eight championship rounds and almost 1700 kilometres of European stages, the LOTOS Rally Team crew have again proved their supremacy behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R5.

Exactly 384 days after last year’s success, the Poles did not give any chances to their opponents – the final round in Latvia bringing them this record-breaking success.

Undefeated for the past three seasons, the pairing has achieved great success over the course of many years: three consecutive European Championship titles (2015, 2016, 2017) and four consecutive Polish Championship titles (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013).

Kajetan Kajetanowicz said:

When I started my rally career, seventeen years ago, I did not expect how much you can achieve in this sport. Winning the most important titles, and flying white and red colours, brings me plenty of joy and satisfaction.

“Together with our partners – Grupa LOTOS, Delphi, Driving Experience and CUBE.ITG – we have won the European Rally Championship title for the third time in a row.

“It is tough to sum up this season shortly. For sure it was full of emotions and difficult decisions, but it was also dynamic and interesting with many unexpected moments.

“Now I know that our initial strategy, aimed at winning the Championship, was the best decision of the whole season and we have achieved what our fans were waiting for!

“This success is the result of a lot of hard work. Working together with M-Sport, our incredible LOTOS Rally Team are the best in Europe! It is a very emotional moment for me, in which I am thinking about my family, my nearest and dearest, my friends, fans, partners. Personally or in thoughts, I know that you are with me and I want to thank you very much for that.”

Jarek Baran said:

“The European Rally Championship is a unique series. We compete in different countries, on different surfaces and in different conditions. We fight against challenging competitors who demand considerable effort from our side.

“We have won our third consecutive European Rally Championship title – the first crew to do so in the series’ 64-year history. I know it would not have been possible without the consistent support of our partners.

“It is difficult to put my feelings into words. This is a great day for us personally and for the whole LOTOS Rally Team. It is not possible to name every person whose direct help and hard work enabled us to climb this summit.

“My dearest, thank you very much – we are all Champions! This is also a great day in Polish rally history. Words and gestures of support received from you over the course of this difficult year were very important for us. Thank you very much!”

 

Eight rounds on the way to the Championship title

Getting the right strategy for this season, in order to achieve a third consecutive championship title, required perfect preparation from the whole LOTOS Rally Team.

The 2017 FIA ERC season consisted of eight rounds spread over eight months. Each one took place in a different European country – commencing on the volcanic island of São Miguel (archipelago of the Azores) almost 4.000 kilometres away from Poland. Kajetan won three special stages and – despite going off the road during the opening leg – returned to secure his first batch of points for second place in the second leg.

Next, the competitors tackled asphalt roads at Rally Islas Canarias, where the LOTOS Rally Team driver notched up further stage wins and finished half of the tests in the top-three. Thanks to a considerable amount of points scored in round two he moved into the top-three in the overall championship standings.

At the beginning of June the LOTOS Rally Team crew achieved another great success. Kajetan and Jarek won the legendary Acropolis Rally for the second time. They recorded fastest times on seven out of twelve stages and this result allowed them to make further inroads in the championship classification – moving into second position.

The following outing at Cyprus Rally proved their excellent pace. The Polish duo won three special stages and recorded 10 top-three times.

After a demanding couple of rounds on foreign gravel, the championship contenders visited Poland for round six at Rally Rzeszów. Supported by a huge home crowd, the Pole secured second place in great style - leaving his main championship rival, Bruno Magalhães, far behind. Another considerable amount of points enabled him to take the championship lead which he never relinquished.

He extended his advantage with solid points finishes at Barum Czech Rally Zlín and Rally di Roma Capitale. In his first outing at the Italian encounter, the Polish driver scored second place, trailing Bryan Bouffier by just 0.3 seconds.

The final showdown took place in Latvia – Kajetanowicz and Baran clinching the title on the opening day of Rally Liepāja when their chief rival had to retire. Today, the Polish crew start the second leg of the rally where they will fight for a podium position on the final round of the championship.