By Rosie Ogden
POLAND’S Kajetan Kajetanowicz heads the leaderboard of the CNP Asfalistiki Cyprus Rally after a hard-fought day’s racing to the south of Nicosia on Saturday which saw the crews battling for every precious second over a loop of four special stages run once in the morning, and again in the afternoon.
Kajetanowicz showed determination to move from 25th after Friday’s opening stage to third on the leaderboard by Saturday lunchtime. In the afternoon, he piled the pressure on rally leader Yazeed Al-Rajhi, clocking fastest on three of the stages to snatch the lead on the last stage of the day and come into the overnight halt 3.8 seconds ahead of the Saudi driver.
The other European Rally Championship (ECR) hopeful, Craig Breen, had problems from Friday with the pop-off valve on his Peugeot Rally Academy 208T16, and had to fight to stay in touch with the leaders. Mixed fortunes over the morning stages and a penalty for starting the fifth stage late saw him lying 8th at the lunchtime regroup, over two minutes adrift of then race leader Al-Rajhi, who had clocked fastest on Friday’s street test through Nicosia, and despite losing his advantage on the first stage out, fought back to arrive at the lunchtime regroup 10 seconds ahead of Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari.
Chasing hard was Abu Dhabi’s Khalid Al-Qassimi, who briefly took the rally lead and at lunchtime found himself in 4th place, 36 seconds behind the race leader.
Friday’s opening stage put paid to the hopes of Jaroslav Orsák: his Škoda Fabia Super 2000 hit a kerb and he finished the test on three wheels. When he got the car back to service, the Czech driver discovered the damage couldn’t be repaired in time and withdrew.
Another early casualty was one of the favourites, Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, who has won the Cyprus Rally three times. He was forced to retire his Ford Fiesta RRC on the road section to SS2 with an overheating problem.
Defending ERC 2WD champion Zoltán Bessenyey was fortunate that Charalambos Charalambous and George Pouyioukas stopped to help him after a roll in SS7, and though both teams lost time, they are still in the race.
Top placed Cypriot is Christos Demosthenous, whose Mitsubiushi Lancer Evo IX is lying seventh overall.
The rally finishes at 6.30 Sunday afternoon near the ‘traffic park’ behind the police headquarters in Aglantzia.
|Pos||Name||Time||Diff. prev||Diff. 1st|
|2||5||AL RAJHI Y.||1:43:13.4||+3.8||+3.8|
|4||3||AL QASSIMI S.||1:44:08.2||+30.2||+58.6|