Nasser Al Attiyah cruised home for his 7th win in the Cyprus Rally on Sunday, making use of his vast experience and easing off the throttle, secure in the knowledge that – barring a major mishap – he couldn’t be caught by the chasing pack.
Having started the day with a very comfortable twelve and a half minute cushion ahead of his closest rival and with only 72 kilometres of special stages until the finish, he settled down to drive his VW Polo conservatively, although still clocking second fastest times on the four competitive sections and arriving at the finish a full seventeen minutes clear of second placed Panayiotis Yiangou in a Hyundai i20. A steady drive saw Christos Demosthenous finish third in his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX, with Savvas Savva in a similar car coming home fourth. The top five was rounded off by Sofianos Rousos in a Lancer EVO X.
Several crews who had retired on the first day took the requisite time penalty to allow them to start again for the second Leg, among them the early race leader Alexandros Tsouloftas. Despite knowing he couldn’t catch Al Attiyah unless something disastrous befell the Qatari ace, he clocked fastest on all four stages of the day to pull up from 14th overall to a creditable 8th, but it was Yiangou who took the top points haul of the event for our local Cypriot rally championship.
The other two foreign crews, Omani Abdullah Al Rawahi with Ata Al Hmoud of Jordan in the co-driver’s seat of their Ford Fiesta, and Mshari Althefiri from Kuwait and his Qatari co-driver Nasser Alkuwari in another Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X, finished 10th and 14th respectively.
The rally was foreshortened overnight in line with the new Covid-19 protocols banning fans from sporting events: the race organisers decided that, since the only reason the Superspecial stage at Achna was included in the itinerary was to give fans the chance to at least see some rally action this year, there wasn’t any point in sending the crews all the way to the Achna Speedway for a 4km stage in an empty stadium.
Following the cancellation of stage 11, the rally ended earlier than expected, at lunchtime, and the podium ceremony took place at the Service Park in Nicosia, where, in line with the FIA’s restrictions for the pandemic, spectators were not allowed.
Provisional Final Results:
1. AL ATTIYAH/BAUMEL 2:46:25.1
2. YIANGOU/KYRIACOU 3:03:35.5
3. DEMOSTHENOUS/PAVLOU 3:05:28.3
4. SAVVAS/PAPANDREOU 3:06:54.5
5. ROUSOS/YIANNAKOU 3:08:28.7
6. CHRISTODOULOU/XENOFONTOS 3:09:40.8
7. LAOS/STYLIANOU 3:12:47.5
8. TSOULOFTAS/ELIA 3:13:09.2
9. GEORGIOU/KAZANGAS 3:14:02.8
10. AL RAWAHI/AL HMOUD 3:15:54.4