Nikolay Gryazin has explained the circumstances that led to him incurring a 15-minute penalty on last weekend’s Rally Hungary in the European Rally Championship for not slowing sufficient at the scene of an accident, saying he accepts the stewards’ decision but that he wasn’t “irresponsible”.
Gryazin had led in Hungary for all but one of the 14 stages, reaching the end of that final test with 37.3 seconds in hand over usual World Rally Championship-2 rival Mads Østberg.
But a few hours after the finish, Gryazin was called up to see the event stewards and was penalized 15 minutes – and therefore demoted to 24th overall – for failing to slow down enough when passing Norbert Herczig’s crashed Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo on SS8.
That led to many believing Gryazin had been reckless, but the 24-year-old issued a statement on social media on Wednesday – three days after Rally Hungary concluded – to explain the factors that led him to continue on the stage and not bring his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 to a stop.
“Sorry for being silent for a few days after Rally Hungary. I just needed some time to digest what has happened there after our victory,” Gryazin said.
“Before you would all think [that] we are that irresponsible, I would like to let you all know what happened.
“When we arrived close to the corner where they have crashed there were already two marshals – none of them showing us to stop, no flags either – and the accidented driver was outside standing next to his car showing us with the hand gesture to slow down.
“We slowed down and as already many people were around the car we understood that everything is already under control.
“The stewards were right that there was no OK or SOS sign in the hand of the accidented driver, we relied solely on what he was showing us.
“Well, the situation was confusing but for sure we should have had to stop,” Gryazin accepted.
“Thanks for all your kind words but no need to judge the decision of the stewards, we have accepted it.
“On the other hand we won the race and we showed consistency which was our goal as this race was part of our preparation for 2022.”
Gryazin’s penalty meant Østberg was credited with victory – the first for him in the ERC – on the same weekend where Andreas Mikkelsen claimed the title.