MERC: Round two Cyprus Rally preview

TOP DRIVERS SIGN UP FOR 2008 CYPRUS RALLY Entries close; strong line-up for major sports event. The organizers of the 2008 Cyprus Rally have confirmed a strong international field for this month's event, with competitors from across the region...

TOP DRIVERS SIGN UP FOR 2008 CYPRUS RALLY

Entries close; strong line-up for major sports event.

The organizers of the 2008 Cyprus Rally have confirmed a strong international field for this month's event, with competitors from across the region set to do battle on the holiday island.

Round 2 of the 2008 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) calendar, the Cyprus Rally will take place over the weekend of the 17th and 18th May; with just a couple of weeks to go, final preparations are now well underway for what promises to be an unforgettable weekend's motorsport.

Entries have now closed and the organizers have confirmed a starting line-up of 55 crews, featuring many of the best-known drivers in the region.

Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson will be looking to continue their considerable success in Cyprus over recent years. They have already shown winning form so far this year, starting their 2008 MERC season with a start-to-finish victory in Round 1 - the NBK Qatar International Rally back in January - in their Subaru Impreza WRX N14.

They were followed in second place by the Subaru Impreza WRX STi of Qatar's Misfer Al-Marri and co-driver Stephen McAuley (GB), while Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel came third.

All three crews will be competing in the 2008 Cyprus Rally, along with a host of other familiar faces including, among others, Jordan's Amjad Farrah, Lebanon's Michel Saleh, Saudi Arabia's Yazeed Al-Rajihi and Kuwait's Salah Bin-Eidan.

With many of the region's top drivers looking to score victory in Cyprus this month, local fans will be hoping for another Cypriot win, after last year's event saw Charalambos Timotheou become the first Cypriot driver to win the Cyprus Rally since 1991. Timotheou will be competing this year (in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), alongside other familiar faces from across Cyprus, including Andreas Tsouloftas, Dimitris Papasavvas and Pantelis Pamboukka, all of whom finished in the top ten of the 2007 event.

One of the most eagerly anticipated FIA motorsports events, the Cyprus Rally regularly attracts competitors and fans from across the world. A new route is being introduced for 2008, made up of a healthy mix of new special stages, stages first introduced in 2007 and a selection of classic stages which have challenged many of the world's best drivers. Reinvigorated for 2008, the Cyprus Rally is ready for its return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar in 2009.

This year's Cyprus Rally will again be based around the popular coastal resort of Limassol. The Service Park will be located on the town's seafront promenade, just metres from the Mediterranean, while Rally Headquarters and the Press Office will be located at Limassol's Apollonia Hotel.

The Ceremonial Start will be held on the promenade at 20.00 on Friday 16 May, followed by two days of action. Saturday will see drivers tackle a total of 453.23km, including 104.65km of special stages, with a further 456.24km on Sunday, including 123.39km of special stages.

With up-to-the-minute results, rally fans can follow the action online at the official event website - http://www.cyprusrally.com.cy. The website is regularly updated both before and during the event and provides a wealth of information about the rally and the island of Cyprus itself.

The Cyprus Rally is organised by the Cyprus Automobile Association (CAA) and sponsored by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, Cyta, Golden Telecom and Travelscope.

Cyprus hosts not one but two rounds of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship this year. The Troodos Rally, Round 6 of the 2008 MERC and the penultimate event in this year's calendar, will be held in Cyprus later this year, on 7/9 November.

-credit: cyprusrally.com.cy

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Matthieu Baumel , Chris Patterson , Michel Saleh , Stephen McAuley