Rally enthusiasts across the island are gearing up for the Cyprus Rally 2017 which will get under way on Friday and finish on Sunday.
The event aims to attract the best rally drivers from Europa and the Middle East as this year’s event will host round four of the FIA European Rally Championship (FIA ERC) and round three of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (FIA MERC).
Racing will get under way on Friday with eight special stages, in two loops of four with a total distance of 117 kilometres, among which the CNP ASFALISTIKI Special Stage that takes place for the fourth consecutive year in the stress of Nicosia city-centre, uniting Europe’s last divided capital.
This year’s event will have start and finish ceremonies in two distinct areas the – Phinikoudes beach front in Larnaca and the Ayia Napa harbour.
A Super Special Stage will take place twice on Saturday, with free entry for rally fans, whereas the Love Cyprus Golden Stage will be held in the Famagusta area granting prize money for the winners. The Super Special Stage will be held in the roads of both the north and south sides of the island.
“Rallying safety is elevated as an issue of primary interest in this year’s Cyprus Rally, in the context of the broader FIA international policy to raise awareness on road safety and the reduction of road accidents,” said Cyprus Automobile Association (CAA) President Antonis Michaelides.
“Cyprus and the Cyprus Rally have been selected as the first event marking the commencement of the FIA’s commendable effort.”
To that end, an FIA mission has visited Cyprus and toured the event’s special stages and tabled proposals on measures that would render the special stages even safer both for rallying crews and fans alike.
Local racing enthusiasts will be keeping an eye on local hero Alexandros Tsouloftas who will be flying the flag for Cyprus.
Driving a Citroen DS3 R5, Cypriot championship leader Tsouloftas will be one of the leading home contenders following his fourth-place finish on the SEAJETS Acropolis Rally earlier this month.
Ten years after winning the Cyprus Rally, Charalambos Timotheou steps up to a SKODA Fabia R5 from his regular Mitsubishi Lancer for what will be only his second appearance in a top-of-the-range ERC1 car.
Defending Cypriot champion Christos Demotshenous, Petros Panteli, Deniz Dener and Christos Mannouris complete the list of local drivers with ERC priority status.
As part of this year’s novelties, the Special Stage will be held twice the same day. On 11:27 and on 16:59. Special Stages 2 and 6 in the picturesque Lefkara village will be named “Giorgos Kyprianou” in the memory of the young rally fan, son of the former Cypriot Rally Champion and past Cyprus Rally winner Kypros Kyprianou and his wife Nitsa who have served the rally motorsport for decades. A prize will be given to the fastest Cypriot crew.
After spending the night in Nicosia, the crews will enter the event’s remaining six special stages.
The Love Cyprus Golden Stage will be held in Famagusta as the rally’s last two stages offering prize money to the crews taking top honors. The sum of the time in the two Golden Stages will determine the winners with first crew garnering €10,000, whereas the first Cypriot crew and the first two-wheel drive crew will be awarded €7,000 each.
Later the crews will head to the finish ceremony, which will take place next to the harbour of Ayla Napa.
Meanwhile, Nayia Kontopoulou – who is the Course Clerk – added: “The entry list features 75 crews coming from 13 different countries, of which 59 are for the European Championship, 11 for the local championship and an additional five crews will compete only in the CNP ASFALISTIKI Super Special Stage.”
Motorists should brace for traffic jams
Cyprus Rally 2017 organisers have announced that there will be traffic disruptions over the weekend and are pleading with motorists to show patience and comply with police instructions.
There were disruptions to central Nicosia traffic midweek as preparations got under way for the upcoming rally. The same is also expected tomorrow, especially in Nicosia again.
“The public wishing to watch the special stage is advised to come to the area early on Saturday and to use all adjacent parking areas and to comply with directions of the Police and the safety marshals.”
The roads will be closed all day Saturday.
Rigenis Street: closed form the Arsinois Street junction up to the Markou Drakou round-about near the Paphos Gate.
Egyptou Street: Closed from Loyd George Square up to the Markou Drakou round-about near the Paphos Gate.
Museum Street: Closed from the Nehru Street junction up to the Markou Drakou round-about near the Paphos Gate.
Kynira Street: Closed from the Pedieos River Bridge up to the Markou Drakou round-about near the Paphos Gate.
Charalambos Mouskou Street: Closed up to the Kynira Street junction.
Kosti Palama Street: One lane will remain closed.
Gregoris Afxentiou Street: One lane will remain closed.
Chilonos Street: Closed in the direction of the Cyprus Archaeological Museum traffic lights