New service park provides focal point for Cyprus Rally

FIA World Rally Championship, round 7

For immediate release
Wednesday, June 18th, 2003


Veterans set new milestones in Cyprus

LIMASSOL (Cyprus): A brand new service park, adjacent to the port in Limassol, will be the main hub of activity during this weekend's Cyprus Rally, the seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

New FIA regulations have enabled rally organisers to condense the route and streamline plans for modern-day rallies and one of those recent implementations is the use of a central service park, designed for ease of access for both competitors and officials in an area where there is also ample space and facilities for the ever-growing number of spectators.

This year the Cyprus Automobile Association, the organisers of the Cyprus Rally, switched the main service park from the Promenade in Limassol to a port-side complex, within walking distance of the rally media centre and all the communications' facilities.

~We wanted to devise a service park which kept everyone close together in a compact area,~ said Christos Kyriakides, the Clerk of the Course. ~The service park should be self-contained, have easy road access and be capable of holding a large number of spectators.~

As the factory teams complete their final pre-event preparations, several semi-professional operations are also putting the finishing touches to their challenge for honours. Many are entered in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship.

The oldest competitor in the rally is the 57-year-old Swedish former World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist. Blomqvist, who won the world title with Audi in 1984, was victorious in Cyprus 30 years ago at the wheel of a Saab 96 V4 and made his WRC debut the same year in Sweden.

The Swede has won 11 WRC rallies in his lengthy career. He teams up with the 1998 British Rally Champion Martin Rowe this week in one of two new Subaru Impreza WRXs, prepared by David Sutton Cars and entered in the FIA Production Car category.

Preparation boss David Sutton, meanwhile, launches his new autobiography this week in Cyprus. His WRC background is also extensive: the pinnacle of his achievements arguably being the World Drivers' Championship he secured with Finland's Ari Vatanen and co-driver David Richards in 1981.

Another milestone on this year's Cyprus Rally is a world record 350th WRC appearance for the veteran British journalist Martin Holmes. ~My first WRC rally was the RAC in 1973,~ said Martin. ~It was the first of three successive RAC wins for Timo Makinen in a Ford Escort.~

~My favourite event has always been Argentina and the last event I actually missed was the 1982 Rally of Brazil, although I did miss the competitive action in New Zealand in 1990 after visiting the shakedown. Hugh Bishop held the record for the most WRC rallies for a while, but missed many rallies in the 1990s, and Andre Marzoli and Guido Rancati are not far behind. Spain's Carlos Sainz has competed in the most rallies as a driver.~

One of the guests of honour at this year's event is the former Grand Prix driver and Monte Carlo winner Vic Elford. Now based in Florida, 68-year-old Elford is attending both the Cyprus and Sanremo rallies this year to carry out research for a book he is currently writing about the World Rally Championship. He remains one of only a handful of drivers ever to make the successful transition from international rallying to Grand Prix racing.

Elford won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1968 at the same time he had a contract to drive for Cooper BRM in Grand Prix. He went on to represent both the Cooper-Maserati and McLaren-Ford teams and lists his very first GP in Rouen as his finest. ~I signed a contract to drive in the French GP for the sum of 200 and started the race from the back of the grid,~ enthused Elford. ~It was a wet race and I eventually finished fourth.~

The Ceremonial start of the 2003 Cyprus Rally takes place at 20.30 on the Promenade in Limassol on Thursday evening, with the official start at 08.00 the following morning, followed by the first of 18 timed special stages in the Troodos mountains.


For further information contact the Cyprus Rally press centre in Limassol on Tel: + 357 25 66 2964, Fax: + 357 25 66 2967 or E-mail: pressoffice@actionprgroup.com

Date issued: 18/06/2003

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