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9 JUNE 2017

PREVIEW: ERC CYPRUS RALLY

FIA EUROPEAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 4 OF 8, 16-18 JUNE 2017

The dust is still settling on a dramatic SEAJETS Acropolis Rally, but the FIA European Rally Championship is showing no sign of slowing down with the Cyprus Rally up next from 16-18 June. Here’s all the essential information ahead of the gravel showcase.

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS
*The fourth round of the all-action ERC season on faster and challenging gravel roads.
*Rally-closing Love Cyprus Golden Stage carries prize fund of 24,000 euros.
*Pioneering CNP ASFALISTIKI Super Special Stage runs twice through Nicosia’s UN Buffer Zone.
*Event origins date back to 1970 when Victor Zachariades won in a Fiat 125.
*Other winners include Stig Blomqvist, Sébastien Loeb, Colin McRae, Petter Solberg and Ari Vatanen.
*Since 1978 the Cyprus Rally has formed part of the ERC calendar in its various formats.
*Fifty-nine crews, including 20 with ERC priority status, have entered the Mediterranean contest.
*Cypriot and FIA Middle East championship crews are also in action on what is a combined event.

CHAMPIONSHIP NEWS
*Counting for ERC1, ERC2, ERC3 and ERC Ladies’ Trophy points, the 46th Cyprus Rally is also a scoring round of the FIA European Rally Championship for Teams, which has been streamlined for this season with one title only up for grabs to increase competition.
*With three rounds run, Bruno Magalhães tops the ERC1 rankings, 21 points ahead of defending champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz, the winner of the last round in Greece.
*Zelindo Melegari is one point behind Tibor Érdi Jr in the chase for ERC2 glory. But with the Hungarian not competing in Cyprus, Italian Melegari will be aiming to take full advantage.
*It’s a similar story for Buǧra Banaz in ERC3. Following his class win in Greece, the Castrol Ford Team Turkey driver can move to the top of the table with a strong result in Cyprus, where he competed for the first time in 2016.

EVENT NEWS
*While Nicosia remains the event hub, there are several changes to this year’s route with new start and finish venues among the alterations.
*However, perhaps the biggest change will be on day one when the event visits the ground-breaking CNP ASFALISTIKI Super Special Stage, which crosses through the United Nations’ Buffer Zone into Northern Cyprus, not once but twice albeit over a shorter distance of 4.15 kilometres. Once referenced by the UN as “the most successful measure in the building of trust between the communities [of Nicosia] since 1974”, the mixed-surface test will be run at 11h27 and 16h59 local time on Saturday 17 June.
*Following the Qualifying Stage from 10h03 local time on Friday 16 June, the ceremonial start takes place on Larnaca’s promenade at 19h00 with the stage action getting underway the next day.
*At 23.43 kilometres, Cytanet Avdelero is the rally’s longest and used twice on Sunday 18 June. Meanwhile, the Lefkara stage has been renamed in memory of Giorgos Kyprianou, a rallying enthusiast and son of Cypriot champion Kypros Kyprianou.
*In total, the event features 14 stages over 219.24 kilometres. The bulk of the stages run on gravel with some asphalt sections although the Cytanet Analiontas and Love Cyprus Golden Stage 1 are gravel only.
*The driver setting the best cumulative time on Love Cyprus Golden Stage 1 and Love Cyprus Golden Stage 2 will receive a cheque for 10,000 euros. The top two-wheel-drive contender will receive 7,000 euros, while the leading Cypriot runner will be handed the same amount.

DRIVER NEWS
*ERC title chasers Bruno Magalhães and Kajetan Kajetanowicz both have previous Cyprus Rally experience to count on albeit not from last year’s event, which they didn’t contest.
*Nikolay Gryazin is back in action in a replacement ŠKODA Fabia R5 after his original car was destroyed by fire while he was leading the SEAJETS Acropolis Rally last week.
*Albert von Thurn und Taxis is also competing again after retiring in Greece, the result of a final-stage off.
*Antonín Tlusťák’s participation in Cyprus was made possible after a member of his team drove 1900 kilometres (a journey of 22 hours) with a replacement fuel tank following a failure in
Greece.
*Nasser Al-Attiyah knows what it takes to triumph in Cyprus: the Qatari has won the rally four times and the now defunct Troodos Rally on eight occasions. After retiring from the lead in Greece, the former Dakar winner, who is registered for ERC and Middle East points, will be keen to add to his Cyprus victory tally.
*Murat Bostanci came within a handful of kilometres of of his maiden ERC podium in Greece only to slide off on the final stage. He’s determined to make amends in Cyprus where he took ERC3 glory in 2016.
*Castrol Ford Team Turkey’s ERC3 line-up will feature Buǧra Banaz, Umitcan Ozdemir and Ismet Toktas for the second event running.
*Russia’s Artur Muradian is back on ERC3 duty having skipped the recent rounds in Gran Canaria and Greece. Meanwhile, his compatriot Sergey Remennik has switched to a spare Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X following his roll on the SEAJETS Acropolis Rally.
*Fresh from his fourth place finish in Greece, Cypriot championship leader Alexandros Tsouloftas, 25, is one of the leading contenders for home-based success in a Citroën DS3 R5.
*Established local driver Charlambous Timotheou will sample ŠKODA Fabia R5 power for the first time in what will be only his second outing in a top-of-the-range ERC1 car.

FAST FACTS
1:
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean behind Sicily and Sardinia. There are 380 rural villages in the republic, while Mount Olympus in the Troodos Range peaks at 1951 metres.
2: Alexey Lukyanuk earned 32,000 euros on the Cyprus Rally last year. As well the €7000 prize money for winning the ERC counter, the Russian picked up 25,000 euros for his Golden Stage triumph.
3: It took four months for Cyprus Rally organisers to put on their first world championship rally after the event was called up as a late replacement for the cancelled China Rally in May 2000.
4: The Cyprus Rally is a happy hunting ground for Andreas Mikkelsen. The WRC factory driver won the inaugural Golden Stage Rally in 2010 and became Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion in 2011 after winning a five-way battle when the Cyprus Rally was based in Pafos for the first time.
5: Warm weather and beautiful beaches – plus hundreds of bars and clubs – have combined to make Ayia Napa one of Europe’s most popularly party-holiday destinations. The Cyprus Rally will finish in the town for the first time on 18 June.

DRIVER Q&A: ALEXANDROS TSOULOFTAS
The rally rookie from Limassol will tackle his home round of the ERC for the second time next week on the back of a standout top-five finish in Greece earlier this month in a Citroën DS3 R5 co-driven by experienced Frenchman Denis Giraudet. This is what the Cypriot championship leader has had to say.

Q: A great result on the SEAJETS Acropolis Rally, finishing fourth overall...
A:
“I’m overwhelmed, it’s much more than what I expected. This is the first year that I am driving, it’s the first time with this car, the first time on the Acropolis, the first time with this co-driver, I only came here to learn the car because we haven’t done a lot of testing and absolutely the placing was unexpected so I am really, really happy.”

Q: And with the Cyprus Rally, your home event, up next the timing couldn’t be better, right?
A:
“We came here to test out the car for the Cyprus Rally and we are more prepared than ever now. We’re also more confident and I’m really looking forward to Cyprus now.”

Q: Given you’re only really starting out in the sport this season you probably don’t have much Cyprus Rally experience?
A:
“I done it last year in a standard Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII, it was my first proper rally.”

Q: Although your rallying experience is limited do you have a background in motorsport?
A:
“I wasn’t into motorsports whatsoever. I only started rallying a year ago and I had no idea what this was before then. But I’m really happy with my progress, it looks like a promising future.”

Q: Finally, what about the challenge of the Cypriot stages?
A:
“They’re tricky but I’m ready, especially with a result like I had in Greece.”

THE RALLY IN 100 WORDS
With its origins dating back to 1970, the Cyprus Rally returned to the ERC roster in 2014 for the first time since 1999 when Nicosia hosted the thrilling action. To mark the occasion, the Cypriot capital was transformed into an exciting street stage, which included a section through the United Nations-controlled Buffer Zone between the historic city’s Greek Cypriot and Turkish inhabited areas. Also counting for FIA Middle East and Cypriot championship points, this year’s rally has new start and finish locations in Larnaca and Ayia Napa respectively, while the new mid-June date will mean punishing ambient and ground temperatures.

WHAT HAPPENED IN 2016?
Alexey Lukyanuk produced a perfect conclusion to his ERC campaign, taking victory on the CNP ASFALISTIKI Cyprus Rally and also winning the Love Cyprus Golden Stage to earn a total of 32,000 euros in prize money. Lukyanuk mastered the mixed-surface challenge of the Cyprus Rally in his Ford Fiesta R5 fitted with Pirelli tyres. The Russian driver led from the start, won 11 of the 13 stages and finished up 2m12.2s clear. His second win of the season confirmed Lukyanuk as the championship runner-up, after he had come into the final round with only a two-point advantage over Ralfs Sirmacis. For his win, Lukyanuk received 7,000 euros as part of the prize money awarded by Eurosport Events on every round of the ERC, and he earned a cool 25,000-euro bonus with the fastest time on the event-closing Love Cyprus Golden Stage, which had a total prize fund of 60,000 euros pledged by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation. The cancellation of the penultimate stage of the rally for safety reasons meant this became a single-stage dash-for-cash with a stunning finish line on the beach. Finishing a superb second place was Marijan Griebel, who was making his four-wheel-drive debut in a ŠKODA Fabia R5, a prize drive for winning this year’s ERC Junior Championship. With only 50 kilometres in the Pirelli-shod car beforehand, the German prospect impressed from the beginning with his speed, enjoying a close battle with fellow ERC Junior graduate Nikolay Gryazin over second before the Latvian teenager crashed out on stage six. From there, Griebel made sure of second position, seeing off the threat of three-time 2016 round-winner Ralfs Sirmacis. The 22-year-old Latvian, also an ERC Junior graduate, was playing catch-up after an overly-cautious start in two challenging night stages that opened the rally on Friday, but won two stages on the following morning as he climbed up to third position in his MICHELIN-equipped ŠKODA. Dávid Botka became the driver with the most ERC starts in 2016 with his ninth appearance in Cyprus, and the 2015 ERC2 champion concluded his first season at the top level with a second fourth place finish in his privately-run Citroën DS3 R5. Local driver Christos Demosthenous controlled ERC2 from start to finish as Murat Bostanci claimed his second ERC3 victory of the year as Castrol Ford Team Turkey locked out the podium.

EVENT ESSENTIALS (all timings local and subject to change)
Starts:
19h00, Friday 16 June, Larnica Promenade (Foinikoudes)
Finishes: 18h00, Sunday 18 June, Ayia Napa Central Square (located adjacent to the harbour)
Headquarters: Filoxenia Conference centre, 17 Thrakis Street, CY-1311 Nicosia
Service park: Lieutenant-General Evangelos Florakis Street, Nicosia
ERC appearances (since 2004 restructuring): 3 (2014-2016)
Stages: 14
Stage distance: 219.74 kilometres (117.40 kilometres leg one, 102.34 kilometres leg two)
Liaison: 504.37 kilometres
Total: 724.11 kilometres
Surface: Asphalt and gravel
Entry list and itinerary: Click here for more information

MEDIA INFORMATION (all timings local and subject to change)
Media Accreditation Office location:
Filoxenia Conference Centre, 17 Thrakis Street, CY-1311 Nicosia
Opening times: 12h00-20h00, Wednesday 14 June; 10h00-22h00, Thursday 15 June; 08h30-00h00, Friday 16 June; 06h30-00h00, Saturday 17 June; 08h00-23h00, Sunday 18 June
Media Centre location: Filoxenia Conference Centre, Nicosia
Opening times: 12h00-20h00, Wednesday 14 June; 10h00-22h00, Thursday 15 June; 08h30-00h00, Friday 16 June; 06h30-00h00, Saturday 17 June; 08h00-23h00, Sunday 18 June
Television coverage: Daily highlights, rally review and Inside ERC magazine show on Eurosport and Eurosport Player, plus additional coverage on a number of other networks
ERC Radio: Live throughout the event at FIAERC.com or through the ERC app
Results, standings, live timing and text commentary: www.fiaerc.com
Rights-free images: Click here for more information
Event media contact: Petros Soutzis, psoutzis@cytanet.com.cy, +357 99643743

MEDIA EVENTS (all timings local and subject to change)
THURSDAY 15 JUNE
Pre-event briefing (all photographers, TV crews must attend)
: 18h00, Media Centre
FRIDAY 16 JUNE
Free Practice (for priority drivers):
07h00-09h00, Yeri village (4.85 kilometres)
Qualifying Stage (for priority drivers): 10h03, Yeri village (4.85 kilometres)
Shakedown (for all drivers): 10h30-12h00, Yeri village (4.85 kilometres)
Start order selection: 13h30, Filoxenia Conference Centre, Nicosia
Pre-rally press conference: 14h00, Filoxenia Conference Centre, Nicosia
FIA Action for Road Safety photograph: 17h45, start ramp, Larnica
Autograph session: TBA, Larnica Promenade (Foinikoudes)
Ceremonial start: From 18h30, Larnica Promenade (Foinikoudes)
SUNDAY 18 JUNE
Post-rally press conference:
18h30, finishing podium, Ayia Napa Central Square

PREVIOUS WINNERS
2016:
Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov (Ford Fiesta R5)
2015: Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (Ford Fiesta R5)
2014: Yazeed Al-Rajhi/Michael Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC)
2013: Nasser Al-Attiyah/Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC)*
2012: Nasser Al-Attiyah/Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC)*
*Non-European championship event

KEY ERC STATISTICS
ERC rally wins in 2017:
Kajetanowicz, Lukyanuk and Magalhães 1
ERC stage wins in 2017: Lukyanuk 16; Kajetanowicz 13; Magalhães 4; Al-Attiyah 3; Gryazin 2; Griebel and Moura 1

ERC CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS: Click here for more information

ENDS



Photos

ERC Kajetan Kajetanowicz.jpg
ERC Kajetan Kajetanowicz

ERC Nasser Al-Attiyah.jpg
ERC Nasser Al-Attiyah

ERC Nikolay Gryazin.jpg
ERC Nikolay Gryazin

ERC Bruno Magalhaes.jpg
ERC Bruno Magalhaes

ERC Zelindo Melegari.jpg
ERC Zelindo Melegari

ERC Bugra Banaz.jpg
ERC Bugra Banaz

CNP ASFALISTIKI Super Special Stage Nicosia.jpg
CNP ASFALISTIKI Super Special Stage Nicosia

ERC Alexandros Tsouloftas.jpg
ERC Alexandros Tsouloftas

Love Cyprus Golden Stage.jpg
Love Cyprus Golden Stage

Download all visuals

Press contacts

​Press enquiries: 
Richard Rodgers
media@fiaerc.com
+44 7833470541
TV enquiries: 
Pascal Petit:
pascal_petit@discovery.com
Elise Lelias
elise_lelias@discovery.com
Vianney Castillo
vianney_castillo@discovery.com