Qatar`s Nasser Al-Attiyah driving a Ford Fiesta RRC clinched victory and a ninth Middle-East Rallying Championship (MERC) in the CNP Asfalistiki Cyprus Rally 2013 that wrapped up Sunday.
With only Dubai left in the MERC the Qatari multi-champion can now set his sights on next years Rally Dakar. Almost three minutes behind him was Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and Scott Martin with their Citroen DS3 RRC.
The battle for second place was glorious with the Emirati driver claiming second place only 4.7s in front of the Qatari rallying prodigy Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and his co-driver Killian Duffy. The two crews exchanged blows all weekend until Al-Kuwari suffered a puncture on Sunday morning and had to chase the Emirati, almost catching him before the end.
In fourth place overall was 2010 MERC champion Misfer Al-Marri and Nicola Arena on board their Ford Fiesta RRC. Right behind them was the Cyprus championship leader Costas Georgiou “Chips” with Elena Pieri and their Mitsubishi Lancer. The two of them drover a clever rally on the second day, allowing Al-Marri to slip fourth overall in order not to risk losing the first place amongst the local crews which all but ensures them this years title. In testament of the how grueling a Cyprus Rally can be, from the 24 crews that took to the starting ramp only 9 have managed to survive the heat, dust and tricky special stages.
After winning all but one special stage on Saturday, Nasser Al-Attiyah dominated all eight Sunday stages on his way to victory. The battle of the day was held undoubtedly between Al Qassimi and Al-Kuwari who entered Sunday with only 1.6s separating them. Al-Kuwari, after having a puncture early on the day, promised to drive flat-out in the afternoon and that is exactly what he did.
Unfortunately for him he came within 4 seconds of his great rival and had to settle for third, which is the same position he currently holds in the Middle-East Rallying Championship. Local leader “Chips” drove fast on Saturday but calm and collected on Sunday, finishing fifth after being overtaken on the overall standings of the CNP Asfalistiki Cyprus Rally 2013 by Misfer Al-Marri. Costas Georgiou “Chips” and Elena Pieri have two more rallies to go until the end and need only six points in order to lift this year`s title.
Sixth overall was Stavros Antoniou and “Chips Junior” with their Lancer Evo IX, who were fastest among the local crews on SS16. In seventh place was Jordanian Ala’a Rasheed and his co-driver Joseph Matar who were thrilled to tackle a Cyprus Rally for the very first time. In eighth place was Abdullah Al-Kuwari who had the experienced and world-class voice of Dennis Giraudet to guide him through his first rally here in Cyprus. The final ninth position went to the Greek crew Costas Argyriou and Ioannis Cheropoulos with their two-wheel drive Toyota Yaris.
The CNP Asfalistiki Cyprus Rally 2013 was organized by the Cyprus Automobile Association with the sponsorship of CNP Asfalistiki and the support of the NicosiaMunicipality, Cyta, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, the Cyprus Sports Organisation and the state of Qatar.
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