Nicocia, 19 October 2020 - Qatar’s ace rally driver Nasser Al Attiyah cruised home for his 7th and second-in-a-row win (third in the last four years) 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.
This was the second victory this year in the Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) for Attiyah and his French co-driver Matthieu Baumel out of two events – the first was held in Oman in February.
The third and final round of the MERC is Rally of Lebanon, which is now scheduled for November.
Attiyah is the record man of the Cyprus Rally. Sebastian Loeb has four victories. Attiyah won in Cyprus for the 16th time – he won the Troodos Rally nine times. He is also on way for his 16th title in the Middle East Rally Championship –10th consecutive.
A delighted Attiyah thanked all for his success. “This is a very important win for us. This is our seventh win at Cyprus Rally and my 16th MERC title win in Cyprus.
“We faced a lot of problems with the terrain, just like many others, but as we promised, we have topped the race,” he added.
“We still have the Lebanon Rally to go before the MERC title is decided but there’s a big difference in points between the teams,” he said looking ahead to the third and final round.
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, Attiyah – along with his French co-driver Matthieu Baumel – settled down to drive his Volkswagen Polo R5 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 the 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 Al Thefiri from Kuwait and his Qatari co-driver Nasser Al Kuwari in another Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X, finished 10th and 14th respectively.