By Constantinos Psillides
The Cyprus Rally will be hitting the streets of Nicosia on Friday with a special starting event in front of the finance ministry, marking the beginning of an automotive race that will stretch for a total of 774.34 km.
This also marks the first time in history that the Cyprus Rally will go through the north of Nicosia. The Nicosia Special Stage is a five kilometre course, starting at the finance ministry, going through the northern stretch of the city and ending up back in Nicosia.
Antonis Michaelides – head of the Cyprus Automobile Association- was asked by the Cyprus Mail whether he faced criticism on his decision to include a stage going through the occupied areas. Michaelides responded that the rally was a unique opportunity to bring people from both communities together, through their love of automobile racing.
All support vehicles present throughout the race –fire trucks, ambulances – will belong to the Cyprus Republic.
The Nicosia Special Stage will be broadcast live on CyBC.
A total of 44 Cypriot two-man crews are scheduled to take part at the rally, 12 of which are Turkish Cypriot.
The Cyprus Rally is an International Automobile Federation (FIA) sanctioned event. It 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.
The event will also be covered by Eurosport, which will devote approximately one hour of air time to the rally.
To accommodate racers and spectators, Cyprus police issued a statement detailing traffic arrangements.
According to the statement, the following streets will be closed off from 9.30am to 2pm and from 4pm until midnight: Demosthenis Severis Avenue – the stretch from the Honda dealership to the finance ministry, Michalakis Karaolis Street, Evagoras Avenue, Kostis Palamas Street, Omirou Avenue – the stretch from Egypt Street until Museum Street, Hilonos, Nehru, Kiniras, Markos Drakos, Charalambos Mouskos – the stretch from the courts until the Ledra Palace checkpoint, Paphos and Rigainis streets, Vasiliou Pavlou, Gregoris Afxentiou, Vasilisis Friderikis and Menandrou.
The public is advised to follow traffic instructions.