Leading drivers arrive in Limassol for Cyprus Rally
2003 CYPRUS RALLY
FIA World Rally Championship, round 7
For immediate release
Tuesday, June 17th, 2003
WORLD'S LEADING RALLY DRIVERS ARRIVE IN LIMASSOL
17,000 foreign spectators expected to watch Cyprus Rally
LIMASSOL (Cyprus): The world's finest rally drivers have arrived in Limassol for the start of the 2003 Cyprus Rally, the seventh round of this year's FIA World Rally Championship, which gets underway on Friday morning.
Organised by the Nicosia-based Cyprus Automobile Association, the event has been included in the prestigious FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) since 2000 and has become one of the most popular rounds with both drivers and spectators.
This year's three-day event, which takes place over 18 timed special stages on sinuous gravel tracks in the Troodos mountains, is expected to attract an estimated 17,000 foreign spectators, the majority of whom will combine spectating on the rally with a family holiday.
Over the last few days, competitors, technicians, officials, members of the media and VIPs have been arriving on the island from all corners of the world. Limassol has become a throbbing rally community, with full occupancy in the hotels, a vibrant atmosphere in the restaurants and a general buzz of expectancy.
The first competitive special stage takes place at 08.45 on Friday morning at Platres, but the top drivers from teams such as CitroŽn, Ford, Peugeot, Subaru, Skoda and Hyundai will be busy over the next two days with other WRC technical and PR formalities.
They were allowed two low speed passes through each of the special stages for reconnaissance purposes on Monday and Tuesday before the official shakedown stage takes place at Stavrovouni on Wednesday and Thursday.
Drivers will be seeded in terms of priority before being allowed through the stage at competitive speeds. The shakedown provides team engineers and drivers with a first opportunity to assess the various stage and weather conditions and gives the media their chance to carry out pre-event interviews and arrange photo shoots.
Cars will then be thoroughly checked for conformity with stringent FIA World Rally Car technical regulations in Polemidhia, north of the town, before the official pre-event press conference on Thursday afternoon at the media centre in Limassol sets the scene for the Ceremonial start at 20.30 on the Promenade in Limassol on Thursday evening and the official start on Friday morning.
Leading the field of 60 cars away from that Ceremonial start will be the 2001 World Rally Champion Richard Burns at the wheel of his Peugeot 206 WRC. Richard finished fourth overall in the recent Acropolis Rally and is the mid-season leader of the FIA World Drivers' Championship.
The Englishman has a slender five-point advantage over the Spanish former World Champion Carlos Sainz in his factory CitroŽn Xsara, with defending champion Marcus GrŲnholm, from Finland, a further two points adrift.
~We are delighted to welcome the world's leading rally drivers to the island of Cyprus for the fourth time,~ said Christos Kyriakides, the Clerk of the Course. ~We are proud to host a round of the FIA World Rally Championship again and have introduced three brand new special stages and made changes to another.~
Four stages are planned for Friday, with a further eight on Saturday and two loops of three tests bringing the event to a close in Limassol on Sunday afternoon.
Leading starters (top 10)
1. Richard Burns (GB)/Robert Reid (GB) Peugeot 206 WRC
2. Carlos Sainz (E)/Marc Marti (E) CitroŽn Xsara WRC
3. Marcus GrŲnholm (SF)/Timo Rautianen (SF) Peugeot 206 WRC
4. Markko Martin (EE)/Michael Park (GB) Ford Focus RS WRC 03
5. Petter Solberg (N)/Philip Mills (GB) Subaru Impreza WRC 2003
6. Colin McRae (GB)/Derek Ringer (GB) CitroŽn Xsara WRC
7. Sebastien Loeb (F)/Daniel Elena (MC) CitroŽn Xsara WRC
8. Tommi Mškinen (SF)/Kaj LindstrŲm (SF) Subaru Impreza WRC 2003
9. Francois Duval (B)/Stephane Prevot (B) Ford Focus RS WRC 03
10. Toni Gardemeister (SF)/Paavo Lukander (SF) Skoda Octavia WRC Evo3
For further information contact the Cyprus Rally press centre in Limassol on Tel: + 357 25 877887, Fax: + 357 25570255 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org