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Cyprus Rally live on ERC Radio

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 05:00

The closing leg of the Cyprus Rally will be live on ERC Radio today (Sunday) as the battle for FIA European Rally Championship glory reaches its conclusion.

Ace reporters Chris Rawes and Aleks Zawada will be live from all stages and service halts in Larnaca with all the action and reaction.

ERC Radio is available at FIAERC.com or via the ERC app. It’s on air from 08h30 local time with the opening stage, Cyta Yeti, live from 08h43 local time.

The post Cyprus Rally live on ERC Radio appeared first on FIA ERC.

Panteli new ERC2 leader as Polykarpou is penalised

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 04:00

Panikos Polykarpou has lost his ERC2 lead on the Cyprus Rally after he picked up a 20-second time penalty for leaving Saturday night service two minutes behind schedule.

Cypriot Polykarpou reached Larnaca leading compatriot Petros Panteli in the FIA European Rally Championship’s production class by 19.8s. But the penalty means it’s Panteli who heads the rankings, albeit by a scant 0.2s, with seven stages remaining today.

Polykarpou had won four stages in ERC2 to Panteli’s two on Saturday, establishing an advantage of almost 20 seconds on his home event. That lead was then wiped out when Polykarpou checked out of final service on Saturday evening two minutes late, incurring a 20-second penalty.

“We make a mistake on the calculation actually and were late by two minutes and lost 20 seconds,” Polykarpou explained. “Petros is more familiar with yesterday’s stages. The stages today are new and for me it’s going to be easier to gain more time. I will fight to get it back and I’m pretty confident. I wasn’t pushing yesterday, I controlled the pace and unfortunately we did this mistake and lost all the time we covered.”

Q8 Oils Rally Team pilot Panteli faces a tough challenge to keep Polykarpou at bay on Sunday, considering the latter’s track record on the Cyprus Rally. Polykarpou finished third overall in 2017, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX which he is using once again this year.

While Panteli and Polykarpou will continue their pursuit of Cyprus Rally glory, Andreas Psaltis is set to be a non-starter following his Saturday exit.

The post Panteli new ERC2 leader as Polykarpou is penalised appeared first on FIA ERC.

Pellier sets an example in ERC3 cameo

Sat, 06/16/2018 - 18:10

Laurent Pellier set an example for the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC3 category contingent, winning all six stages of Leg One on the Cyprus Rally to lead comfortably.

ERC Junior Experience graduate Pellier is a regular campaigner for PEUGEOT Rally Academy in the ERC Junior Under 28 category, but with no points on offer in ERC Junior U28 this weekend, dropped down to ERC3 for Cyprus.

Rather than having his usual PEUGEOT 208 T16 workhorse underneath him, Pellier is driving a 208 R2, prepared by the same Saintéloc Junior Team which is responsible for his ERC Junior U28 assault.

Familiarity with both team and car had a clear effect, as not even a front right puncture could stop him from building a comfortable cushion over his ERC3 rivals.

Artur Muradian completed Leg One second in ERC3 despite driving someone else’s car. His usual TBRacing-prepared machinery, a PEUGEOT 208 R2, was heavily battle scarred from a gruelling EKO Acropolis Rally two weeks prior. This meant his 208 was sent away for repairs while he borrowed a Renault Clio R3 from fellow Acropolis competitor “El Nak Jr”.

While his loaned R3-specification Clio has more power than his usual R2 charge, it also weighs in at 150kg heavier, leaving Muradian to spend most of Leg One adapting his driving style to suit a car he hadn’t driven since 2016.

While his driving on special stages was excellent given his unfamiliar equipment, one small blot on his copybook came before SS4, missing a junction on his roadbook and ending up lost. He soon found his bearings, but arrived at stage time control late, picking up time penalties for his delayed arrival.

Local entrant Constantinos Televantos finished Leg One in third place, keeping his Q8 Oils Rally Team Ford Fiesta R2 on the road and out of major trouble. However, he remains under intense pressure from ERC Ladies' Trophy leader Catie Munnings, who is only 11.6 seconds behind despite a difficult Saturday afternoon.

Pellier’s Saintéloc Junior team-mate Munnings was forced to stop three kilometres from the finish of SS4 to change a puncture, only to sustain a second puncture one stage later. With no spares remaining she backed off in SS6, yet still gained 15.9s on Televantos to set up an exciting battle for Leg Two on Sunday.

Norbert Bereczki completed his first full day of ERC3 competition fifth in class, ahead of Emma Falcón in sixth place. Christos Mannouris had been in a close battle with Bereczki over fifth place initially, but retired at midday service.

The post Pellier sets an example in ERC3 cameo appeared first on FIA ERC.

ERC2: Cyprus locals dominate ERC production field

Sat, 06/16/2018 - 17:32

Panikos Polykarpou led a podium position lockout of Cypriots in the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC2 category after Leg One of the Cyprus Rally, leading by 19.8s from compatriot Petros Panteli.

Psaltis Auto Parts driver Polykarpou continued on from his overall podium in last year’s event with a strong Leg One performance, winning four stages from six.

However, those two stages which Polykarpou could not win were instead topped by Q8 Oils Rally Team pilot Panteli, who recovered 7.2s from Polykarpou to keep ERC2’s lead battle alive and well.

As many R5 specification cars seen in ERC’s top category hit trouble, ERC2’s fleet of production-spec Mitsubishi Lancers remained tough, with only one retirement all day amongst the support class field.

Andreas Psaltis had been locked in a fight over second place with Panteli on Saturday morning, but steering failure in SS3 sent him into a ditch, causing a red flag and causing him to retire on the spot.

Psaltis’ retirement allowed Michalis Posedias to elevate his Autotelio Lancer Evo X into a podium position, holding station in third place throughout the remainder of Saturday, 56.9s behind category leader Polykarpou.

Behind a trio of local experts were a pair of familiar ERC faces. Juan Carlos Alonso came closest to breaking a Cypriot podium lockout in Leg One, finishing Saturday 1m26.5s behind Polykarpou.

Alonso’s efforts were compromised by being first on the road, leading ERC’s entire 28-car contingent into every stage. This meant suffering through road sweeping duties, cleaning a path for those who followed.

Zelindo Melegari was pleased to complete a trouble-free day in fifth place, 3m02.8s behind Polykarpou. Despite his gap to the Cypriot frontrunners, it was a welcomed improvement for Melegari after suffering mechanical woes throughout this season to date.

The post ERC2: Cyprus locals dominate ERC production field appeared first on FIA ERC.

Day report: Nordgren leads Cyprus ERC thriller as top three covered by 8.8 seconds

Sat, 06/16/2018 - 16:56

ŠKODA Motorsport-backed junior talent Juuso Nordgren turned in a clean FIA European Rally Championship performance on the Cyprus Rally’s dusty roads, establishing a 4.6-second lead over local expert Simos Galatariotis with Bruno Magalhães 4.2s behind in third following a day of thrilling action and drama.

In a drastic change of fortunes, Nordgren was able to take advantage of the tricky conditions that caught out several rivals to move into first position, a stark contrast to two weeks ago when he retired from the EKO Acropolis Rally with multiple punctures.

Instead, Autotek Motorsport’s Nasser Al-Attiyah suffered a similar fate, picking up a puncture in both the first and second stages during Saturday afternoon’s loop, leaving him short on spares after only taking a single backup tyre when leaving service in Larnaca. Luckily he was able to survive on three wheels, staying in the rally and holding fourth place having moved in front when Alexey Lukyanuk crashed out on stage four.

Cypriot driver Simos Galatariotis is now second on his home event, only 4.6 seconds behind Nordgren. SEAJETS-backed Bruno Magalhães inherited third after Al-Attiyah’s troubles, 8.8s behind Nordgren. Al-Attiyah is now 48.4s adrift of Nordgren in fourth but still in contention with seven Sunday stages remaining.

Local prospect Alexandros Tsouloftas had been set to take a provisional podium spot, but he stopped early on Saturday’s final stage with a broken wishbone and unable to continue further. Norbert Herczig now completes the top five overall in his absence, 1m09.9s behind Nordgren.

Leg One recap: Mixed fortunes for ERC top guns
Saturday morning on the Cyprus Rally began in familiar ERC fashion, with Alexey Lukyanuk leading the way from stage one. Five-time Cyprus winner Nasser Al-Attiyah had been touted as the odds-on favourite to score a sixth victory but his pace was tempered by a pop-off valve issue, leaving him slightly down on power compared to Lukyanuk.

While Lukyanuk and Al-Attiyah duelled for dominance, Juuso Nordgren settled into a safe third position, taking his time to drive safe, clean lines and avoid another double puncture scenario which had ruined his podium chances in Greece two weeks prior.

A tight battle for fourth quickly emerged between ERC regulars and local specialists. Cypriots Simos Galatariotis and Alexandros Tsouloftas were early winners, running fourth and fifth before morning service despite a first-stage puncture for Tsouloftas.

But just as a running order seemed to be settling down, Saturday afternoon blew the Cyprus Rally's lead battle wide open.

Coming through a fast section of Tarmac road, a cracked rim aboard Lukyanuk’s Ford Fiesta R5 spun him out and into a barrier, wrecking his car and putting him out. Though both he and co-driver Alexey Arnautov were uninjured their Russian Performance Motorsport entry was heavily damaged, forcing their retirement and leaving residual debris behind.

Al-Attiyah would inherit first from Lukyanuk’s exit, though not without troubles of his own. A puncture three kilometres into the same test which had claimed Lukyanuk not only cost him time but also forced Al-Attiyah to fit his only spare tyre.

Nordgren was unable to capitalise on Al-Attiyah’s puncture thanks to one of his own aboard his Wevers Sport Fabia, picked up while dodging Lukyanuk’s stranded Fiesta and running through its debris. This demoted him to third, 50.1s behind Al-Attiyah and also 2.0s down on Galatariotis.

Stage five held one last plot twist in the lead battle, a second puncture in as many stages for Al-Attiyah leaving him out of spare tyres to use. He left his shredded tyre on his right rear corner for the leg-closing SS6, dropping over a minute to save his earlier delaminated cover for the road section back to service.

Two successive stage wins for Nordgren after his puncture put him back in first place, 4.6s up on Galatariotis in second.

“We had some really bad luck with what happened to Lukyanyk but I think we’ve learned something from Acropolis,” said Nordgren, referring to his earlier puncture picked up while avoiding Lukyanuk’s damaged car.

“It’s been quite rough today, we didn’t expect so many loose stones, but I think we’ve survived well.”

Bruno Magalhães had struggled to get on top of his Fabia’s set-up on Saturday morning, but was feeling more at home aboard his SEAJETS-backed machine after midday service in Larnaca. Combined with his trademark measured approach, Magalhães surged from sixth to third, his eyes firmly fixed on making up points on championship leader Lukyanyk.

“When I saw that Lukyanuk was out, I realised that I need to finish this day because I score points for this day,” said Magalhães.

“Of course now for tomorrow we try to recover some positions. We have improved the car a lot this afternoon. This morning I was not so happy. We are going to think about the stages for tomorrow because this rally is a big challenge for the set-up.”

Fighting talk from Magalhães came in stark contrast to second placed man Galatariotis, who was focused on securing points for his Cyprus national championship campaign.

“We are trying to finish for the Cyprus championship and score those points, so we took the foot off the [throttle] pedal.”

Tsouloftas had been set to inherit third until a late stoppage on Saturday’s final stage caused him to retire altogether, allowing Magalhães into a podium place and Al-Attiyah to slot his limping Fiesta into fourth.

MOL Racing's four-time Hungarian champion Norbert Herczig demonstrated what could be achieved by a strict safety-first approach, dismissing any desire for a podium push to focus on improving step by step. He had dropped as low as ninth place on Saturday morning, but picked his way up to fifth by day’s end with a clean, no-nonsense drive. He heads into Sunday with a 1m01.9s deficit to rally leader Nordgren.

Dávid Botka was another driver to turn in a quietly efficient performance, taking his Sysinfo Rallye Team Fabia to sixth place, 2m01.2s behind Nordgren. He holds a slim 4.0s advantage over fellow Fabia runner Orhan Avcioğlu in seventh, whose day was far from quiet.

The Toksport-run Turk picked up a puncture through SS5 in an extraordinary fashion, heading off through a field and smashing through fences, deflating a tyre while finding his way back onto the stage.

“I think there’s going to be an angry farmer, I hope he doesn’t find me!” said Avcioğlu, before heading towards service in Larnaca, possibly to seek shelter.

An early tyre gamble on a mixed Tarmac-gravel tread pattern didn’t pan out as ACCR Czech Team pilot Vojtéch Štajf had hoped, but he still finished Leg One in eighth despite a puncture after midday service.

Albert von Thurn und Taxis did well to avoid any major dramas to finish Leg One in ninth, only 4.6s behind Štajf aboard his Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team-prepared Fabia.

ERC2 category leader Panikos Polykarpou demonstrated why he finished third overall on the Cyprus Rally last year, heading his class whilst also holding P10 overall.

The post Day report: Nordgren leads Cyprus ERC thriller as top three covered by 8.8 seconds appeared first on FIA ERC.

Breaking news: Nordgren takes ERC Cyprus Rally lead from Al-Attiyah

Sat, 06/16/2018 - 15:45

Juuso Nordgren has moved into first place overall on the Cyprus Rally, taking advantage of two punctures for chief FIA European Rally Championship rival Nasser Al-Attiyah.

In a drastic change of fortunes, Nordgren was able to take advantage of Cyprus’ tricky conditions catching out rivals to move into first position, a stark contrast to two weeks prior where he retired from EKO Acropolis Rally from multiple punctures.

Instead, Nasser Al-Attiyah suffered a similar fate, picking up a puncture in both the first and second stages in Saturday afternoon’s loop, leaving him short on spares after only taking a single backup tyre when leaving service in Larnaca. Luckily he was able to survive on three wheels, staying in the rally and falling only to fourth place.

Cypriot driver Simos Galatariotis is now second on his home event, only 4.6 seconds behind new leader Nordgren. Bruno Magalhães inherited third place after Al-Attiyah’s troubles, 8.8s behind Nordgren. Al-Attiyah is now 48.4s behind rally leader Nordgren in fourth

Alexandros Tsouloftas had been set to inherit a podium position, but he stopped early in Saturday’s final stage, unable to continue further and dropping out of the points places entirely. Norbert Herczig now completes the top five overall in his absence, 1m09.9s behind Nordgren.

Alexey Lukyanuk had led after midday service, but retired shortly after due to a crash in SS4.

The post Breaking news: Nordgren takes ERC Cyprus Rally lead from Al-Attiyah appeared first on FIA ERC.

NEWSFLASH: Lukyanuk crashes out of ERC Cyprus Rally lead

Sat, 06/16/2018 - 13:54

Alexey Lukyanuk has crashed out of the Cyprus Rally while leading the overall FIA European Rally Championship order, forcing him to retire and handing first place to Nasser Al-Attiyah.

ERC championship leader Lukyanuk held a 5.6 second advantage over Al-Attiyah heading into Saturday afternoon’s stages, but disaster struck when a cracked rim caused him to lose control of his Russian Performance Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5. Thankfully, Lukyanuk and co-driver Alexey Arnautov were unharmed after their crash.

Wevers Sport driver Juuso Nordgren arrived next on the scene, picking up a left rear puncture after taking avoiding action and hitting a rock.

“He was in the middle of the road and we had to over a very big rock. I don’t know what he hit but it was our only choice otherwise we would end up in the barrier,” Nordgren told ERC Radio at stage end.

“I think he just lost it and went to barrier with rear damage. We hit broken parts of his car [so as] not to hit the barrier or his car.”

Al-Attiyah now leads despite tribulations of his own through SS4, picking up a right rear puncture only 3 kilometres into the same test and nursing it to stage end.

The post NEWSFLASH: Lukyanuk crashes out of ERC Cyprus Rally lead appeared first on FIA ERC.

Cyprus Rally SS4 delayed after earlier ERC stoppage

Sat, 06/16/2018 - 12:30

Stage four of the FIA European Rally Championship’s ongoing championship round on the Cyprus Rally has been postponed to 13h59 local time due to an earlier red flag.

Earlier on Saturday stage three was halted after ERC2 category competitor Andreas Psaltis ended up in a ditch, a steering failure sending his Mistubishi Lancer Evolution X into a ditch.

Psaltis’ stranded Lancer blocked passage for drivers behind him and though both he and co-driver Andreas Chrysostomou were fine after their off, stewards had to deploy a red flag to move his car aside.

As several ERC competitors were held for close to an hour at SS3’s start line before setting on their way, stage four has been postponed by 47 minutes to allow those affected to catch up.

Psaltis’ fellow ERC competitor Juan Carlos Alonso will resume ERC action at 13h59 as first car into Saturday afternoon’s re-run of Kellia.

The post Cyprus Rally SS4 delayed after earlier ERC stoppage appeared first on FIA ERC.

Štajf plans ERC Cyprus Rally resurgence after tyre gamble

Sat, 06/16/2018 - 12:16

ACCR Czech Team's Vojtéch Štajf is confident he will improve on this afternoon's FIA European Rally Championship stages of the Cyprus Rally, after attempting a tyre gamble on Saturday morning.

Štajf went in a different direction to that of his rivals at service in Larnaca this morning, taking a tyre which aims to balance gravel and tarmac grip while most selected rubber from Pirelli's range of standard gravel tyres.

"We thought about there being some tarmac parts on the stages, so we decided in the morning to take the gravel-tarmac tyre," Štajf told ERC Radio reporter and ERC Junior Under 28 competitor Aleks Zawada.

"It was so slippy on the gravel parts that I had no confidence and we were quite slow. The gain we had on tarmac was not as much as we lost on the gravel sections. Now we're going for a full gravel tyre [this afternoon]."

"We put some new information to the pace notes after we saw the first pass. I think I'll have more confidence with gravel spec tyres and with the fact we've already run the stages once before this morning."

Feeling freshly prepared for Saturday afternoon's loop, Štajf set his sights on eighth and ninth-placed drivers Norbert Herczig and Hubert Ptaszek, whom he is only 14.8s and 12.5s behind respectively in P10.

"I hope we'll improve because I'd like do similar times as Ptaszek and Herczig, and we're not too far behind them, so it's our goal for this afternoon [to beat them]."

The post Štajf plans ERC Cyprus Rally resurgence after tyre gamble appeared first on FIA ERC.

Lukyanuk fends off Al-Attiyah in early ERC Cyprus battle

Sat, 06/16/2018 - 11:29

FIA European Rally Championship points leader Alexey Lukyanuk has established a 5.6 second lead over Nasser Al-Attiyah on the Cyprus Rally, despite technical issues afflicting both drivers.

Five time Cyprus Rally winner Al-Attiyah dropped 8.4s to Lukyanuk through Kellia, Saturday morning’s opening test, after a pop-off valve issue caused his car to lose power.

Al-Attiyah then regained 2.8s over Saturday morning’s remaining two stages before service, aided by a technical gremlin for rally leader Lukyanuk.

Though he lost little time to Al-Attiyah, Lukyanuk suggested he had lost an opportunity to extend his lead further through a throttle response issue.

“In the middle of the stage we lost response from the throttle. We lost maybe 10-15 seconds as we were rolling to reset the car, so we lost a lot of time,” Lukyanuk told ERC Radio at the finish line of stage three.

“The engine was stopped, nothing was happening, I went straight from fifth to second gear. I’m happy it’s working now and I pray it keeps going.”

Juuso Nordgren holds a steady third place aboard his Wevers Sport ŠKODA Fabia R5, 23.5s behind Lukyanuk but well ahead of a titanic early scrap for fourth position.

Simos Galatariotis started his morning strongly in fifth position, but moved into fourth just before service despite concerns over potential tyre or suspension damage to the front left corner of his Fabia.

1.8s behind Galatariotis was fellow Cypriot Alexandros Tsouloftas, who was recovering from a front-right puncture earlier. His recovery to fifth place before returning to midday service in Larnaca was all the more impressive given he was the first R5-specification car on the road, sweeping clean Cyprus’ loose gravel roads.

Bruno Magalhães had previously headed both Cypriots but fell to sixth place while struggling with a less than ideal set-up. With his car moving around underneath him frequently on Cyprus’ loose gravel surface, Magalhães is planning set-up changes for this afternoon. Only 2.1s separates him from Galatariotis’s fourth place.

Orhan Avcioğlu holds seventh position aboard his Toksport WRT Fabia, 1m24.8s behind rally leader Lukyanuk and only 3.4s ahead of Norbert Herczig in eighth. Hubert Ptasezk is also engaged in a fight for Avcioğlu’s seventh place, 5.1s behind despite a rear-right puncture in SS1 and going too fast over a jump and heading off-road in SS2.

Vojtéch Štajf elected to take a contrarian tyre strategy aboard his ACCR Czech Team Fabia, using a different Pirelli tread construction to his rivals this morning. He finished Saturday morning’s first loop P10, 1m42.7s behind Lukyanuk and is planning a switch back to standard-spec Pirelli gravel tyres for this afternoon.

Panikos Polykarpou leads the ERC2 production category, 23.8s ahead of Q8 Oils Rally Team’s Petros Panteli after SS2.

Polykarpou’s Psaltis Auto Parts team-mate Andreas Psaltis had been running second in class, but broken steering sent Psaltis into a ditch 1.8 kilometres into SS3. That accident caused a red flag, with action yet to resume.

Laurent Pellier leads the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC3 category, leading Artur Muradian by 1m10.7 aboard his Saintéloc Junior Team PEUGEOT 208 R2.

Pellier’s performance was all the more impressive given he suffered a front-right puncture in SS2, while Muradian is getting to grips with a Renault Clio R3 he borrowed as a late replacement for his usual 208 R2, which is currently being repaired after EKO Acropolis Rally.

Catie Munnings is third in ERC2, 1m30.3 behind her Saintéloc Junior team-mate Pellier and currently leading the ERC Ladies Trophy category.

The post Lukyanuk fends off Al-Attiyah in early ERC Cyprus battle appeared first on FIA ERC.

Hungary Bereczki wants Cyprus ERC finish

Sat, 06/16/2018 - 07:00

Hungarian participation in the FIA European Rally Championship has increased further with the addition of Norbert Bereczki to the ERC3 category ranks on this week’s Cyprus Rally.

Making his debut on the Larnaca-based event, Bereczki becomes the first Suzuki Swift Sport pilot to register for the all-action ERC. Compatriot Tamás Géczy will co-drive.

Explaining his decision to enter the Cyprus Rally, 42-year-old Bereczki said: “I like gravel and this is so close to Hungary's most famous gravel rally, the Veszprém Rallye.

“I finished at the end of the 2013 season, we win our category in Hungary and I say, 'okay, it's enough for me' and my second child was born. But my wife and two children come to this rally and they make a holiday. We hope to enjoy the race because our car is the smallest in our category and this rally. We haven't enough money for a better car but it is built in Hungary.”

Bereczki’s Cyprus Rally got off to a tough start this morning when myriad mechanical problems prevented him from taking part in Free Practice and the subsequent Qualifying Stage.

“We had some technical problems with the car,” he said. “At home in Hungary the car is perfect, but when we come here there's 11 problems with the car. My crew worked overnight and they did everything [to be ready to start the rally].”

A number of other Hungarian drivers have signed-up for the ERC in 2018. They include four-time national champion Norbert Herczig, 2017 ERC2 title winner Tibor Érdi Jr and former ERC2 champion Dávid Botka.

The post Hungary Bereczki wants Cyprus ERC finish appeared first on FIA ERC.

Listen to the Cyprus Rally live on ERC Radio

Sat, 06/16/2018 - 06:00

The Cyprus Rally be live on ERC Radio with reporters positioned at the end of all stages to provide all the action and reaction from the FIA European Rally Championship counter.

With Julian Porter on temporary assignment, Aleks Zawada – a frontrunner in the FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship – will be swapping steering wheel for microphone to join ERC Radio anchor Chris Rawes.

ERC Radio will be live on air at 08h45 local time today (Saturday) and is available from FIAERC.com or via the ERC app.

The post Listen to the Cyprus Rally live on ERC Radio appeared first on FIA ERC.

ERC drivers support FIA Action for Road Safety campaign

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 21:00

Leading drivers from the FIA European Rally Championship have lent their support to the FIA’s Action for Road Safety campaign.

Ahead of this week’s Cyprus Rally, a number of drivers and co-drivers assembled for a photocall to support the vital initiative. Click here for more information.

The post ERC drivers support FIA Action for Road Safety campaign appeared first on FIA ERC.

Muradian makes surprise Clio R3 switch for ERC Cyprus Rally

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 20:00

FIA European Rally Championship ERC3 category regular Artur Muradian has made a surprise switch to a Renault Clio R3 for the Cyprus Rally, as his regular car is currently being repaired.

Muradian suffered an untimely series of events during the ERC’s last round, the EKO Acropolis Rally, two weeks ago, losing multiple front bumpers before sheared wheel bolts forced him to retire from first place in ERC3.

With so little time between Acropolis and Cyprus rallies, Muradian elected to send his PEUGEOT 208 R2 away for repairs while borrowing a Clio R3. Though his borrowed car was loaned out by a rival competitor from Greece, it is still being run by his regular TBRacing team.

“For this race we have the car we hope will finish with all the bumpers attached. The car is faster than we are used to but we think it will work,” said Muradian.

“We have damaged the PEUGEOT a bit more than we expected, so it went to the factory to fix the body. We were offered the Renault by El Nak Jr, one of the competitors from Greece. The R3 is the best car for this rally.”

Though a retirement on Saturday’s leg of the EKO Acropolis Rally ended any hopes of victory last time out, his pace was evident. He went second quickest in ERC3 during Friday’s Qualifying Stage on the Cyprus Rally, beaten only by ERC Junior Under 28 contender Laurent Pellier in a Saintéloc Junior Team-prepared 208 R2.

The post Muradian makes surprise Clio R3 switch for ERC Cyprus Rally appeared first on FIA ERC.

Avcioğlu playing a “mind game” on ERC’s Cyprus Rally

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 20:00

FIA European Rally Championship regular Orhan Avcioğlu intends to play a “mind game” during the Cyprus Rally, aiming for a top finish by mitigating risk.

Avcioğlu starred in Friday’s Qualifying Stage on the Cyprus Rally by going fourth quickest overall, bested only by five-time Cyprus winner Nasser Al-Attiyah, ŠKODA junior hotshot Juuso Nordgren and ERC championship leader Alexey Lukyanuk.

Despite his quick turn of pace, Avcioğlu will reign in his speed somewhat come Saturday and Sunday, ensuring he brings his Toksport WRT-prepared ŠKODA Fabia R5 to the Larnaca service park in one piece come Sunday afternoon.

“It's a mind game for this weekend. We are aiming for the top five hopefully,” he said.

“If we have no problems and get to the finish on Sunday, it could be possible.”

“Our goal is to try and nurse the car. We were going fast today in qualifying but we don't plan on going that fast throughout the weekend.

“There's a lot of hidden stones, a lot of things that can catch you out. I don't want to make that mistake.

A top five finish would be Avcioğlu’s best ever ERC result, having set himself a new benchmark with his eighth placed finish on EKO Rally Acropolis two weeks ago.

The post Avcioğlu playing a “mind game” on ERC’s Cyprus Rally appeared first on FIA ERC.

Lukyanuk turns 100 on ERC Cyprus Rally

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 19:08

Alexey Lukyanuk will make rally start number 100 on this week's Cyprus Rally, round four of the 2018 FIA European Rally Championship.

Russian Performance Motorsport held a celebration in honour of Lukyanuk's achievement in the Larnaca service park, unveiling a specially made cake in black with orange flashes akin to his iconic Ford Fiesta R5.

Nearly one third of his rally appearances have come from his participation in the ERC, scoring seven wins and 12 podiums in 28 starts. This weekend’s Cyprus Rally will be start number 29 in the ERC.

Lukyanuk will undoubtedly be hoping to cap start number 100 with victory, but admitted he would have a challenge on his hands from five-time Cyprus Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah, who won Friday’s Qualifying Stage.

“We know Nasser can be really fast and if it takes too much risk to compete with him maybe we will think to back off a bit and score as much points as we can without taking any extra risks,” he said.

“But on the other hand if we feel really comfortable and confident to set a really good pace then we will do that.”

The post Lukyanuk turns 100 on ERC Cyprus Rally appeared first on FIA ERC.

Tsouloftas hoping for home ERC podium

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 17:00

Alexandros Tsouloftas is hoping for good fortune on the Cyprus Rally with a podium the target should the regular FIA European Rally Championship frontrunners trip up in their own lead battle.

Cypriot driver Tsouloftas had been running in a top five position during his last ERC appearance on the EKO Acropolis Rally two weeks ago, until a mechanical failure ended his rally on day two.

Now looking to make amends, Tsouloftas believes a podium could be within reach on his home event, should other factors play out in his favour.

“We know the competition is really strong. Nasser [Al-Attiyah] here is an expert, especially on gravel special stages. [Alexey] Lukyanuk is really fast and [Juuso] Nordgren as well,” said Tsouloftas.

“I believe we can be around fourth or fifth position and expect a mistake from the front fight, and hopefully we could get a step ahead.

“I’ll try to drive as fast as possible with what we have. We do it for Cyprus, for the fanbase. We have huge support here in Cyprus, we’re the youngest crew with an R5 of the Cyprus crews as well. We want to provide much fun for the people.”

Tsouloftas had packed up his equipment by Sunday morning during the EKO Acropolis Rally, a heart-breaking change of fortune given his increasing pace throughout his first ERC appearance of 2018.

“We were driving at a nice pace after we’d fixed many issues that we’d had with the car. We did the second fastest time overall in the New Amfissa test, which was quite good.

“I wasn’t expecting that, it was a surprise for me, because I knew where we could improve. We decided in the next stage to push even harder but unfortunately, we broke the driveshaft.

“It’s been a year that we are with issues like gearbox, power steering, driveshaft etc. We were so disappointed and I wasn’t feeling like continuing. When you lose the feeling, the rally is gone.”

Looking ahead to the Cyprus Rally’s two legs on Saturday and Sunday, Tsouloftas is hoping to remain competitive and follow through on his outside podium hopes, despite a somewhat unfavourable start order position.

He lines up P3 on Saturday after a mistake on Friday’s Qualifying Stage, ERC’s first R5-specification car through after a pair of production-spec ERC2 cars.

“We had a problem in the Qualifying Stage. We missed a junction. That was really bad luck, as the Qualifying Stage is an important thing.

“Starting in third position, I’ve never started at that position so far out front, so it’ll be tough for us. Many plans change, [especially] tyre based. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”

The post Tsouloftas hoping for home ERC podium appeared first on FIA ERC.

Nordgren excited for mixed surface experience on ERC Cyprus Rally

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 15:26

Juuso Nordgren is continuing his first forays into the FIA European Rally Championship with his second ever ERC appearance on Cyprus Rally, and is excited about Cyprus’ mixture of surfaces.

ŠKODA Motorsport junior driver Nordgren is driving a Wevers Sport-prepared Fabia R5 this year, already making his ERC debut at EKO Acropolis Rally two weeks ago. As he builds his experience in new countries on different types of event, Cyprus presents another new challenge for the Finn.

“[I’m] quite excited. I really like the stages, especially Saturday. It’s quite smooth and fast. Sunday we have some rougher parts also but on the other hand, we have some tarmac, so lots of new things and lots of experience for us,” he said.

Cyprus Rally features a series of unusual mixed surface stages, primarily gravel but with a significant number of kilometres also on tarmac. Though he briefly sampled similar conditions on last year’s Rally Catalunya – Costa Daurada, Cyprus’ stages remain unlike anything he has experienced before.

“Not this much,” he responded when asked how much driving he’d done in similar conditions.

“Only in Spain, there is the stage Terra Alta, where there is over 10 kilometres of tarmac section. I’ve done that twice last year, so that’s the only experience on tarmac with gravel tyres and gravel setup.”

Nordgren’s ERC debut on EKO Acropolis Rally demonstrated his raw speed, winning the 21.97 kilometre Grameni stage against experienced ERC hands like Alexey Lukyanuk and Bruno Magalhães. However, a tricky tyre choice in Greece’s searing heat meant he picked two soft rear tyres, which both delaminated and forced him to retire through a lack of spares.

Looking back on Acropolis as a learning experience, Nordgren is determined to make the most of his time in Cyprus.

“Definitely not flat out this time. In Greece we made so many mistakes, which ended our rally. Now we just want a clean race but still with a reasonable speed. The main thing is to try and enjoy it.”

He might enjoy his driving this weekend, but it’s less likely Finnish native Nordgren will relish Cyprus’ hot temperatures. Though he got a sample of warm weather in Acropolis, Friday’s Qualifying Stage hit a toasty 39°C.

“It is tough, especially for a Finnish guy not used to these conditions, even in summer. These stages are not so long, but of course the days are long and we’re sweating like pigs. I think for the moment it’s only the sweating, it doesn’t feel so bad, but sweating a lot!”

Nordgren went second fastest through Friday’s Qualifying Stage, ahead of current championship leader Alexey Lukyanuk. He begins his Cyprus Rally adventure on Saturday, starting P14 in the road order at 09h26 local time.

The post Nordgren excited for mixed surface experience on ERC Cyprus Rally appeared first on FIA ERC.

They said what? ERC drivers look ahead of Cyprus Rally

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 14:21

Nasser Al-Attiyah, Simos Galatariotis, Bruno Magalhães and Catie Munnings attended the pre-event press conference for the Cyprus Rally. This is what they had to say ahead of the FIA European Rally Championship counter.

Q:
Welcome Nasser, the most successful driver in the history of the Cyprus Rally! How confident are you of making it six wins and who will be your toughest opponents?

NA-A:
Yes, we are here in Cyprus and we try to do our best for this race. It will not be easy. We need to respect all the drivers but it will not be easy for everybody because it is a hard rally. But, okay, we win five times and we are really looking to win six times this rally. I wish good luck for everybody. It will be an exciting rally.

Q:
You obviously have a lot of experience here – what do you think of this year’s route and the changes?

NA-A:
It’s quite a change you know. Sunday will be the key of the rally because it will be very, very hard you know. But, okay, we try to do our best. We need to enjoy the Cyprus Rally. It’s one of the nice races to fight on, it’s very high speed and you cannot really take times. There are not really technical stages but it will be tough for everybody and we try to do our best.

Q:
How did you prepare for this year’s event? I gather you were doing your other sport in Malta last week?

NA-A:
Yes, I was training for the Olympic Games in Japan. We had three days in Greece and one week in Malta for shooting. We are here Cyprus Rally and one week after I stay in Cyprus for one week for training my progrmme. It will be very busy but I am really happy to drive again.

Q:
It’s no secret you’ll be aiming for gold in Japan, right?

NA-A
I will try! I am not young but, okay, I will do my best. I did six Olympic Games, four times final and one bronze in London. I have a good feeling and I will try to do my best for Japan.

Q:
It’s your home event and after a strong performance on the Acropolis what can you achieve on this rally?

SG:
Last year also due to some bad luck of other drivers we finished second and I’m hoping to improve on that! A place on the podium would be a fair result for us. We’ve been driving on these roads for many years now and now we have a competitive car. I really hope we will be there at the end.

Q:
You’ve stepped to an R5 car for this season – are are you finding it and do you have plans to make more appearances in the ERC this year?

SG:
It depends on the budget, on the sponsors. This rally is also counting towards the Cyprus championship so we wish to finish well in this rally. But if all goes well then why not. But good luck to everybody.

Q:
Welcome to Cyprus Bruno, how crucial was your victory in Greece last time out?

BM:
It was so important because without this victory for sure I was not here. I received the answer from my sponsor after the race so it’s a big pleasure to be in Cyprus again. In the beginning of the year unfortunately you don’t have a programme so you are going step by step. Sometimes you have good rallies and other times you are not so lucky so it depends on the result and of course the victory on the Acropolis was amazing for us and we are still fighting for the championship and we are in a good position so thank you to all my sponsors who helped me to come here.

Q:
It was tough Cyprus Rally for you last season – just remind us what happened?

BM:
Yeah last year was a crazy corner for three drives, we all crashed in the same corner! For me it’s because I lose the concentration when I saw the co-driver of [Kajetan] Kajetanowicz [Jarek Baran] and I lose completely my concentration and it was enough to go completely out of the road. I hope this year it will be different and I hope we can get a podium in the final and get the maximum points for the championship.

Q:
The Cyprus Rally wasn’t on your original schedule for this year so how did this all come about and what do you think of the event following the recce?

CM:
I’ve been very lucky to have the opportunity to drive here. It was only decided a couple of weeks ago that the Saintéloc Junior Team will take part so I’m very grateful to everybody who has made that possible. The Cyprus Rally is a phenomenal event. For me this is my third rally on gravel and I need the kilometres and I need to learn. Here it’s a fantastic place to learn. The stages are very fast, there are some very technical sections as well. We’re here with the PEUGEOT 208 R2, which will be a very strong and competitive car here. As always our focus will be on the fastest juniors in our category, which is probably my team-mate Laurent Pellier who sets a very nice pace and we can judge our speed on him and improve throughout the weekend.

Q:
You’ve had a taste of Cypriot gravel this morning so how was that?

CM:
It was fantastic. As I say I don’t have so much gravel experience. The most experience I have is probably in the Azores which is very different. Today was a very fast stage. It’s more complicated for the rally but today was very good fun with lots of wide space to push and to drive fast.

Q:
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for you – what have you been up to before coming to Cyprus?

CM:
I’m very busy at the minute. I’m filming a new TV show, like Top Gear and I get to drive lots of cool stuff but not as cool as a rally car!

The post They said what? ERC drivers look ahead of Cyprus Rally appeared first on FIA ERC.

Alonso heads ERC road order for Leg One of Cyprus Rally

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 13:15

RMC Motorsport’s Juan Carlos Alonso will lead the FIA European Rally Championship field into Leg One of Cyprus Rally on Saturday, as Qualifying Stage winner Nasser Al-Attiyah elected to start P15.

Though 15 top-tier R5-specification cars are present for Cyprus Rally, ERC2 category frontrunner Alonso still broke into the 15 quickest times in Friday morning’s Qualifying Stage, leaving him last to select a road order position.

Reigning Cyprus Rally winner Al-Attiyah kicked off his return to ERC with Qualifying Stage victory, using his free choice to take as low a road position as possible with P15. Given Cyprus Rally’s loose gravel surface, a lower start position is expected to be important as those ahead like Alonso sweep roads clean.

Despite drivers having some freedom to pick their positions, first place through to P15 in Friday’s Qualifying Stage was completely reversed for Saturday’s road order, meaning Alexey Lukyanuk (Russian Performance Motorsport) and Juuso Nordgren (Wevers Sport) will depart just before Al-Attiyah, P13 and P14 respectively.

At the other end of the scale, Alonso isn’t the only ERC2 car appearing unusually early. Petros Panteli will follow Alonso out second on the road in his Q8 Oils Rally Team-prepared Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, which is also campaigned by Alonso.

Alexandros Tsouloftas is ERC’s first top-spec R5 car into Saturday’s stages, starting third after an overshoot cost him over five seconds in Friday morning’s Qualifying Stage.

Tsouloftas is followed by Paulo Nobre (Palmeirinha Rally), Albert von Thurn und Taxis (BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team), Dávid Botka (Sysinfo Rallye Team), Norbert Herczig (MOL Racing Team), Hubert Ptasezk (TRT Krezus Rally Team), Vojtéch Štajf (ACCR Czech Team) and SEAJETS-backed EKO Rally Acropolis winner Bruno Magalhães running fourth through to P10 on the road respectively.

Cypriot driver Simos Galatariotis will begin his home rally P11 in the staring order, ahead of Toksport WRT’s Orhan Avcioğlu, Lukyanuk, Nordgren and Al-Attiyah.

The post Alonso heads ERC road order for Leg One of Cyprus Rally appeared first on FIA ERC.

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ORLEN 74 Rally Poland / Rajd Polski

ORLEN 74 Rajd Polski

Kalendarz 2018

22-24 marca:

Azores Airlines Rallye (Portugalia)

03-05 maja:

Rally Islas Canarias (Hiszpania)

01-03 czerwca:

Acropolis Rally (Grecja)

15-17 czerwca:

Cyprus Rally (Cypr)

20-22 lipca:

Rally di Roma Capitale (Włochy)

24-26 sierpnia:

Barum Czech Rally Zlín (Czechy)

21-23 września:

Rajd Polski

12-14 października:

Rally Liepaja (Łotwa)