ERC aces facing ultimate test on Cyprus Rally

ERC aces facing ultimate test on Cyprus Rally

08.06.2018: *Demanding event presents a big challenge for European championship regulars *Positive Lukyanuk aims to keep Magalh„es




*Demanding event presents a big challenge for European championship regulars

*Positive Lukyanuk aims to keep Magalhães at bay in exciting title fight

*Mr Cyprus Rally Nasser Al-Attiyah in the hunt for record-extending victory

*Cypriot stars among the contenders as impressive line-up of R5 cars assemble

 



For more than four decades, the Cyprus Rally has put car and crew to a significant test. And while the current format is a little less taxing than it once was, underestimating the demanding nature of this rallying heavyweight would be a big mistake.
 


Although it’s fundamentally a gravel rally, a handful of sections take place on asphalt, which will further increase the challenge when the event gets underway from its new base in Larnaca from 15-17 June.
 


Add to the mix the searing ambient and ground temperatures, and it quickly becomes clear why the Cyprus Rally is ranked as an ultimate test of driver and car.
 


Chosen by the FIA, motorsport’s global governing body, for having the best volunteer organising team in the world following the 2017 edition, Cyprus Rally bosses have built on that recognition with a new base, overhauled route and impressive 65-car entry, with 50 contesting the ERC-counting international event.
 


Among the drivers in action is Nasser Al-Attiyah, the most celebrated driver in Cyprus Rally history with a record five wins – plus eight on the country’s Troodos Rally for good measure. The Qatari’s last victory came in 2017 when he revealed just why he’s so prolific on the Cypriot stages.
 


“There is no secret but I work very hard and we have the experience,” said the Autotek Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5 driver. “The rally is a mix between slow stage, medium stage and fast stage and we need to manage the speed on the different stage.



The hot weather is no problem because we do a lot of race like the Dakar Rally where we stay 12 hours inside the car in hot temperatures. But we know this race is really hard and very hot. It’s my favourite rally and we try to do our best.”
 


Following his crucial EKO Acropolis Rally victory last time out, Bruno Magalhães will head to Cyprus rejuvenated and firmly back in the title fight in his ARC Sport ŠKODA Fabia R5. Without a 2018 win prior to his Greek triumph, SEAJETS-backed Magalhães is now 14 points behind Alexey Lukyanuk, who suffered his first retirement of 2018 in Greece when he broke his Ford Fiesta R5’s suspension on a rock.
 


Lukyanuk has vowed to “look positively and focus” to ensure the Acropolis was just a temporary blip for the otherwise excellent Russian, while Portugal’s Magalhães is just relieved to be heading to Cyprus after only learning he’d have the budget to take part shortly after celebrating his win in Greece.
 


Add Norbert Herczig and fellow Acropolis podium finisher Hubert Ptaszek, local aces Simos Galatariotis and Alexandros Tsouloftas, ŠKODA-backed Juuso Nordgren and a host of other ERC regulars such as Orhan Avcioǧlu, Dávid Botka, Paulo Nobre and Albert von Thurn und Taxis, and this year’s Cyprus Rally is set to produce the usual blend of intense competition, drama and excitement.
 


To mark the Cyprus Rally’s return to the ERC roster in 2014 for the first time since 1999, a ground-breaking street stage through the United Nations-controlled Buffer Zone between Nicosia’s Greek Cypriot and Turkish inhabited areas was organised and generated considerable interest, including within the UN.



 However, while the stage remains on the 2018 itinerary, what have been described by the event organisers as “technical issues” means the stage won’t venture into Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus this year.
 


With 13 stages over a timed distance of 204.92 kilometres, the Cypus Rally begins with Free Practice and Qualifying on 15 June followed by two days of action north and west of Larnaca.
 





- Richard Rodgers, photo FIA ERC

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/erc-aces-test-cyprus-rally---177032.html

08.06.2018 / MaP

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