MERC Bumper entry received for revised 2007 Cyprus Rally
2007 Cyprus Rally, October 12th-14th, 2007
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 6 of 8
For immediate release
Saturday, October 6th, 2007
NASSER AL-ATTIYAH AND KHALID AL-QASSIMI
SET FOR CRUCIAL CYPRUS RALLY DUEL
Cyprus organisers arrange new service park, HQ and special stages
Bumper entry received from Cyprus, Europe and the Middle East
LIMASSOL (Cyprus): Defending FIA Middle East rally champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah heads to Cyprus for the second time this season, knowing full well that only a victory on next weekend’s Cyprus Rally will be good enough to keep the defence of his regional title on track on the sixth round of this year’s championship.
The event. which is also a round of the FIA Historic Championship, gets underway with a ceremonial start in Limassol at 20.00hrs on Friday, October 12th and takes place on nine gravel stages over two days (October 13th-14th) before finishing in Limassol on Sunday afternoon.
Al-Attiyah trails the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi by 11 points heading into the Cyprus Automobile Association’s official candidate event for the FIA World Rally Championship, with Al-Qassimi knowing that second position or even a points-scoring finish could set him up for a second title – he won the championship for the first time in 2004.
“I know what I have to do,” said Al-Attiyah. “I just need to win, keep the pressure on Khalid and see what develops. If I take 10 points, I keep my title hopes alive. I have a good record in Cyprus and won here earlier this year. I will try my best!”
The CAA have laid on some new special stages in the Troodos mountains and the two-day rally has attracted its strongest ever line-up from the GCC, in addition to a host of local Cypriot drivers. Due to popular demand, the service park has been relocated on the sea front in Limassol and there will be a new rally headquarters. Event officials have also announced that several of the classic stages will be used in conjunction with new tracks, although the older stages have been regarded and repaired and double usage is at a minimum this year. Moving the event to the autumn should also help to combat the searing temperatures that were a factor in the WRC event last year.
Al-Qassimi arrives in Limassol fresh from taking part in the Spanish round of the WRC with the BP-Ford Team, but he will find the performance of his Group N Subaru Impreza WRX STI a far cry from the handling and power of the Ford Focus WRC he used in Spain this weekend. The Abu Dhabi driver has taken victories in Oman and Jordan this season, while accidents have hampered main rival Al-Attiyah. The Qatari crashed in both of those events, but took victories in Qatar, on the Troodos event in Cyprus and in Syria.
Jordan’s Amjad Farrah also holds a good chance of taking his first ever regional title. The former winner of the Jordan Rally is also taking part in the P-WRC this season and lies third in the Middle East series, a mere one point behind Al-Attiyah, having scored on all five rallies.
Other series regulars making the trip to the Mediterranean island include Qatar’s Misfer Al-Marri (who tackled the Rally of New Zealand in place of an injured Al-Attiyah), Lebanon’s Michel Saleh, Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajihi and Austrian Andreas Wimmer.
Meanwhile, a strong team from Kuwait includes Mufeed Mubarak, Meshari Al-Thafiri, Ahmed Al-Kharess, Saleh Bin Eidan, Shaker Raies, Yousef Al-Thafiri and Essam Al-Nejadi. Jordanians Mazan Tantash and Faris Hijazi also make the trip to Cyprus for the first time.
No less than 31 Cypriot drivers featured on the unofficial entry list and several are more than capable of taking an outright victory. Andreas Tsouloftas is a regular competitor in the Middle East series and lies equal 11th in the points’ standings after scoring three points on the Troodos Rally. He and co-driver Savvas Laos will be fired up to match the likes of Al-Attiyah and Al-Qassimi on narrow, winding gravel stages that he knows very well.
P-WRC competitor Spyros Pavlides will have the experienced Frenchman Denis Giraudet reading the pace notes, as he attempts to win his home event in a Subaru, while the likes of Andreas Peritikos, Nicolas Mandrides and Yiangos Yiangou also run well on Cyprus events and will be challenging for top honours.
Official proceedings get underway next Friday evening at 20.00hrs with the official start in Limassol. There will be a total of four special stages on Saturday, beginning with the Xyliatos test at 09.55hrs, and five on Sunday, culminating with the Panagia stage at 15.32hrs and the ceremonial finish at 17.50hrs.
In a total route of 878.72km, there will be 239.66km of competitive distance. The longest special will be the 32.42km of the Anadiou stage, which will run twice on Sunday. The shortest is the fifth 11.87km Kato Amaiantos special on Sunday morning.
The CAA has attracted support from the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), Cytanet, Golden Telecom, Travelscope, Compusource for this important candidate event to mark the island’s potential return to the WRC calendar in the near future.
Leading entries (not seeded)
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Chris Patterson (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi
Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Nicky Beech (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi
Andreas Tsouloftas (CY)/Savvas Laos (CY) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
Michel Saleh (RL)/Joseph Mattar (RL) Subaru Impreza WRX STi
Spyros Pavlides (CY)/Denis Giraudet (F) Subaru Impreza WRX STi
Yazeed Al-Rajihi (KSA)/Steve Lancaster (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi
Mufeed Mubarak (KWT)/Saad Al-Melaifi (KWT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII
Misfer Al-Marri (QA)/Hamed Al-Marri (QA) Subaru Impreza WRX STi
Andreas Peratikos (CY)/Nicos Panayides (CY) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI
Paraskeva Paraskevas (CY)/Yiannos Christofi (CY) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII
2007 FIA Middle East Rally Championship
Driver Championship - positions after round 5 of 8
1. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE) 41 pts
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) 30 pts
3. Amjad Farrah (HKJ) 29 pts
4. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE) 25 pts
5. Michel Saleh (RL) 21 pts
6. Misfer Al-Marri (QA) 11 pts
7. Nicholai Georgiou (RL) 8 pts
8. Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) 7 pts
8. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QA) 7 pts
10. Andreas Wimmer (A) 4 pts
11. Andreas Tsouloftas (CY) 3 pts
11. Yahya Al-Amri (UAE) 3 pts
13. Mufeed Mubarak (KWT) 2 pts
12. Mohammed Al-Mannai (QA) 1 pt
14. Essam Al-Nejadi (KWT) 1 pt
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