Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah on board a Ford Fiesta R5 leads the Cyprus Rally amidst drama that saw the retirement of the European Rally Championship’s main contenders, Portugal’s Bruno Magalhaes and reigning ERC champion, Poland’s Kajetan Kajeranowicz.
According to a press release issued by the Rally`s press office, they both retired in special stage six after an exit in exactly the same spot, along with Castrol Ford Team Turkiye’s Murat Bonstanci.
Stage seven saw the retirement of Latvia’s Nikolay Gryazin, leaving Al Attiyah as the uncontested leader enjoying a considerable margin of more than three minutes over second placed, and local favourite, Alexandros Tsouloftas on board a Citroen DS3 R5.
Tsouloftas saw his main rival over the first-placed Cypriot crew retiring in stage 5 with steering problems hampering his Skoda Fabia R5. Fellow-Cypriot Panicos Polykarpou with Gerald Winter driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 complete the first three, while another five Cypriot crews complete the top ten places.
Enjoying four Cyprus Rally victories, Al-Attiyah is well acquainted with the Cypriot stages that often could prove treacherous. “Yes, this is a rally,” he said after completing stage seven, adding that he will go for the victory in tomorrow stages. He too had a moment when he exited stage seven with a damaged rear due to a tyre explosion.
The Cypriot rally sent its first flares early in the morning as the day’s stage two was cancelled when Turkish Cypriots Denner Deniz and Topcu Omer stopped with gearbox problems blocking the road, prompting the organisers to neutralise the stage.
Sunday will include the remaining six special stages. First in line is the very fast Yeri stage, 22 km in length then straight to Avdellero (23.43 km). Following the lunch break, these two stages will be repeated. The final two stages of the 2017 Cyprus Rally will be the two Golden Stages, which will also offer cash prizes to the fastest crews of these two stages (total time through both stages). The rally will then come to a close in the Finish Ceremony which will take place at the Ayia Napa port at 1800 local time on Sunday.
Overall classification after SS 8
1. Ν. Al-Attiyah – Mathhieu Baumel – Ford Fiesta R5 – 1:25:53.8
2. Alexandros Tsouloftas– Stelios Elia –Citroen DS3 R5 – 1:29:12.8
3. Panikos Polykarpou – Gerald Winter – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 – 1:29:34.0
4. Chritos Demosthenous – Pambos Laos – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 – 1:29:51.6
5.Σίμος Γαλαταριώτης – Αντώνης Ιωάνου – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 – 1:30:28.9
6.Von Thurn Und Taxis A – Bjorn Degand Skoda Fabia R5 – 1:30:35.6
7.Savvas Savva – Andreas Papandreou Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 – 1:31:25.8
8.Petros Panteli – Kyriakos Christodoulou Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 1:31:31.8
9. Rauf Denktash – Dervis Bora Savarona – Ford Fiesta R5 – 1:31:33.8
10. Michalis Posedias – George Alexandrou – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 – 1:32:04.9