By Constantinos Psillides
The Cyprus Rally will for the first time in its history run through the north of Nicosia and the buffer zone, according to organisers, who said it was a unique opportunity to bring people from both communities together.
Head of the Cyprus Automobile Association (CAA) Antonis Michaelides said: “Sportsmanship could bring people, especially youngsters, together in their love for the rally. This event can tear down a wall of division and bring a message of reconciliation.”
He thanked all Turkish Cypriot rally fans who collaborated with him to “bring this event into fruition”.
The Cyprus Rally will take place between September 19 and 21. The special stage will be a five kilometre course, starting from Nicosia and then north of the Green Line.
Asked if they were any adverse reactions to the move, Michaelides said he had met with all parties and all competent authorities, and assured everyone that it would be to the benefit of the Cyprus Republic.
“They gave us their wholehearted support. We explained to them that the Nicosia Special Stage would be subject to all rules and regulations that other Special Stages are subject too and that CAA is sole organiser, judge and supervisor of the Cyprus Rally,” he said.
The head of the CAA added that all support vehicles present throughout the race –fire trucks, ambulances- would belong to the Cyprus Republic.
The Nicosia Special Stage will be broadcast live on CyBC. It will kick off with a ceremony in a specially arranged area in front of the finance ministry, on Friday September 19.
A total of 44 Cypriot two-man crews will take part at the rally, 12 of which are Turkish Cypriot.
The Cyprus Rally is an International Automobile Federation (FIA) sanctioned event. The 2014 Cyprus Rally will include two rounds; the European Rally Championship (ERC) 9th round and the Middle-East Rally Championship (MERC) 5th round.
The rally will include 15 special stages, for a total of 774.34 km, according to the CAA.
The event will also be covered by Eurosport, which will devote approximately one hour of air time to the rally, according to ERC coordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley who was also present at the press conference.