Cyprus Rally gets underway

first_imgSixty-two crews are entered for this year’s Cyprus Rally, the fourth round of the European Rally Championship (ERC).The action starts on Friday morning at a stage near Klavdia just outside Larnaca with free practice (from 7 until 9 am) and then qualifying, which begins just after 10am and will determine the choice of starting order for the rally proper, which gets underway from the Finikoudes seafront in Larnaca on Saturday at 8.30am.This year’s event has attracted crews from 19 different countries: 39 from Cyprus, three from Hungary, two from the Czech Republic, Great Britain and Russia and one crew from Portugal, Poland, Finland, Germany, Turkey, France, Spain and Italy as well as Brazil and Argentina.As the rally also counts towards the Middle East Rally Championsip, there are also crews from Lebanon, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman. Russia’s Alexey Lukyanuk, who won here in 2016, heads the ERC Drivers’ standings on 83 points, with Portugal’s Bruno Magalhaes, winner of the Acropolis Rally in Greece two weeks ago, chasing hard in second place on 69 points. Norbert Herczig of Hungary lies third with 40 points and Nikolay Gryazin and Ricardo Moura round off the top five, both on 30 points. With eight rounds in all, there’s everything to play for – and, of course, the kudos and prize money up for grabs on the last two ‘Golden’ special stages of the rally on Sunday afternoon.Probably the favourite to take the winner’s laurel is five-time Cyprus Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah from Qatar, who is very familiar with our terrain – although the move to Larnaca this year means there’s a slightly different feel to some of the special stages. Lukyanuk is well aware of the Qatari’s experience and record in Cyprus. “We know Nasser can be really fast and if it takes too much risk to compete with him maybe we will think to back off a bit and score as much points as we can without taking any extra risks,” he said.Ten of the Cypriot crews will compete for points in the ERC, headed by last year’s Cyprus champions Simos Galatariotis and Anotnis Antoniou in a Skoda Fabia R5. They secured fourth place in the Acropolis Rally and are hoping for an even better result on home turf. Meanwhile, upcoming contender Alexandros Tsouloftas in a Citroen DS3 R5 showed his speed and talent last year and will be looking to impress again. The ERC3 category will include 2WD cars and there are two female drivers in the starting line-up: Briton Catie Mannings and Canary Islander Emma Falcon.The rally covers a total distance of 758.36km of which 204.92km are Special Stages.After the Ceremonial Start on Friday evening at 6.30pm at Finikoudes, the action will begin in earnest on Saturday with crews covering six special stages to the north and west of Larnaca. They will spend the night in parc ferme before setting off on Sunday to tackle another seven stages, including the Super Special Stage in the heart of Nicosia. The ceremonial finish will be at Finikoudes at 6:30pm on Sunday night.last_img

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