MERC Charalambous Timotheou takes stunning win in Cyprus Rally
2007 Cyprus Rally, October 12th-14th, 2007
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 6 of 8
For immediate release
Sunday, October 14th, 2007
CHARALAMBOS TIMOTHEOU TAKES
STUNNING CYPRUS RALLY VICTORY
Qatar’s Al-Attiyah closes gap on UAE rival Al-Qassimi to nine points
Dimitris Vazakas clinches victory in 2007 Cyprus Historic Rally
LIMASSOL (Cyprus): Charalambos Timotheou and Pambos Laos produced a measured drive over the final five stages of the 2007 Cyprus Rally to take a deserved victory on the sixth round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship. A puncture cost closest rival Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah crucial time, but the Qatari finished second overall, 1m 18.7s behind the Cypriot, and earned the maximum 10 championship points to boost his chances in the regional title race.
Al-Attiyah now heads to the final two rounds of the series in Lebanon and Dubai next month, nine points behind the championship-leading UAE driver Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi in the Team Abu Dhabi-backed Subaru Impreza WRX STi.
“I had a puncture, which cost me the chance of taking an outright win,” said Al-Attiyah. “But I took take maximum points. Khalid managed to gain two places at the end and I have to overturn a nine-point lead over the final two rallies if I am to win the title again. It will not be easy now.”
Cypriot Dimitris Papasavvas finished third, but a late charge by Al-Qassimi saw him finish fourth and second of the registered drivers after breaking a driveshaft in the fifth stage. Local driver Andreas Tsouloftas lost fourth overall on the final test and slipped to sixth place and fourth of the registered drivers behind Jordan’s Amjad Farrah.
“I decided to have a real good go on the last stage and try and hold off Amjad and claim an extra point,” said Al-Qassimi. “It was a great bonus to take two..”
Al-Attiyah began the final day’s five stages a mere 7.8 seconds behind surprise leader Timotheou in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, with championship leader Al-Qassimi in third place. But the Qatari moved into a slender 1.4 second lead after setting the fastest time in the fifth special. Farrah overhauled Al-Qassimi to take third place, when the UAE driver broke a driveshaft, as a bunch of local drivers jostled for positions in the lower reaches of the top 10.
But Timotheou was not to be denied and hit the front again in SS7, by setting his third fastest time of the weekend. His lead was only 0.7 seconds, but Al-Attiyah was more interested in the problems facing his championship rival Al-Qassimi. The UAE driver was forced to complete the sixth stage with a broken driveshaft, set the 18th fastest time and slipped to eighth position in the overall standings before the mechanics could repair the damage. Farrah was also in the wars and Cypriots Tsouloftas and Pappasavvas entered the top four.
Rain had fallen overnight and some areas were affected by mud, but it did not affect Timotheou’s surge through the seventh stage and into a 1m 05.9s lead, when Al-Attiyah spluttered through the special in fear of running out of petrol. “Fortunately it’s downhill to service,” groaned the Qatari.
Pappasavvas overhauled Tsouloftas to take third place, as a resurgent Al-Qassimi benefited from a new driveshaft to set the second fastest time and move back to sixth place behind Farrah. Al-Attiyah was also forced to change a flat tyre and dropped just over a minute to the leader and Spyros Pavlides lost drive in two wheels and slipped behind his rivals.
Al-Attiyah regained 1.6 seconds in the penultimate stage, but Timotheou retained a 1m 04.3s lead heading into the final. Al-Qassimi managed to pass Farrah and regain points for third place, although a fascinating final stage was in prospect with only 3.3 seconds between the championship leader and his Jordanian rival.
Timotheou hung on to take a memorable win and a flying Al-Qassimi managed to hold off Farrah and pass Tsouloftas to take two extra championship points in his quest for a second regional title.
It was a disappointing morning for the Jordanian drivers Mazan Tantash and Fares Hijazi. Electrical problems put paid to Hijazi’s chances and an accident forced Tantash out of the running. Qatar’s Misfer Al-Marri also retired with rear differential problems at the end of the sixth stage. Cypriot Lambros Limniotis lost eighth place at the final service park with terminal transmission trouble.
Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajihi put in a superb display, despite fuel pump problems on day one that dropped his from fourth into SupeRally. Without his first day troubles, the promising Saudi would have been inside the top five at the finish with support from a strong backing team that included Bahrain’s Elie Semaan, British team management consultant Kevin Morris and Finnish rally driver Tapio Laukkanen.
Greeks Dimitris Vazakas and co-driver Maria Gemeni cruised to an 8m 39.2s victory in the Cyprus Historic Rally at the wheel of their Ford Escort. Pantellis Poetis was second in a Volkswagen Golf and Christakis Michael completed the podium places in his Ford Escort Mk1. Tassos Gemenis lost a top three placing when his ex-Andersson Toyota Celica suffered a damaged radiator.
The main sponsor of this year’s event was the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), with additional backing from Cytanet, Golden Telecom, Travelscope and Compusource for this important WRC candidate event.
2007 Cyprus Rally – final positions after SS9 (SS1 and 2 cancelled)
1. Charalambos Timotheou (CY)/Pambos Laos (CY) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX 3h 04m 11.1s
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Chris Patterson (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 3h 05m 29.8s
3. Dimitris Papasavvas (CY)/Vangelis Xenofontos (CY) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 3h 11m 07.0s
4. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Nicky Beech (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 3h 11m 30.8s
5. Amjad Farrah (HKJ)/Nicola Arena (I) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX 3h 11m 59.0s
6. Andreas Tsouloftas (CY)/Savvas Laos (CY) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX 3h 12m 04.1s
7. Spyros Pavlides (CY)/Denis Giraudet (F) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 3h 15m 20.6s
8. Pantelis Pamboukka (CY)/Leonidas Christofi (CY) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 3h 16m 52.4s
9. Michel Saleh (RL)/Joseph Mattar (RL) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 3h 17m 39.5s
10. Yazeed Al-Rajihi (KSA)/Steve Lancaster (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 3h 17m 56.6s
2007 FIA Middle East Rally Championship
Driver Championship - positions after round 6 of 8
1. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE) 49 pts
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) 40 pts
3. Amjad Farrah (HKJ) 35 pts
4. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE) 25 pts
4. Michel Saleh (RL) 25 pts
6. Misfer Al-Marri (QA) 11 pts
7. Nicholai Georgiou (RL) 8 pts
7. Andreas Tsouloftas (CY) 8 pts
9. Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) 7 pts
9. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QA) 7 pts
11. Andreas Wimmer (A) 6 pts
12. Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QA) 3 pts
12. Yahya Al-Amri (UAE) 3 pts
14. Mufeed Mubarak (KWT) 2 pts
15. Mohammed Al-Mannai (QA) 1 pt
15. Essam Al-Nejadi (KWT) 1 pt
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