Organizers look to future WRC participation
The Cyprus Rally has long been one of the most eagerly anticipated FIA motorsports events, and for 2007 it's set to be the most exciting yet.
And it's a 2-for-1 special: not only is the 2007 Cyprus Rally round 6 of the 2007
FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), it's also an official round of the 2007 FIA Historic Rally Championship. That means double the action and double the fun!
With just over a month to go (the event will be held from Friday 12th - Sunday 14th October), the organizers have already confirmed that there will be a number of changes this year, making for a refreshed, revamped and revitalized Cyprus Rally.
As well as a new Headquarters and Service Park, a number of new stages are being introduced. The classic stages that are being reused are now in great shape thanks to last year's surface regrading and regular maintenance, while a number of the stages will be used just once over the course of the event. Antonis Hadjimichalis will once again conduct further grading this month to ensure the quality of the roads.
A host of new technologies are also being introduced, including a GPRS-based results systems providing up-to-the-minute results that will be published online at the official event website, and 'Sporttraxx' – a tracking system to be used in Cyprus for the first time that uses GPRS to monitor the progress of competitors along the route.
Big plans are also in place for the future, with the organizers already putting forward suggestions for a new Service Park to be incorporated in the all-new marina currently being developed for Limassol.
This year's Cyprus Rally will be observed by the FIA with a view to a return to the WRC calendar in 2008/2009. Next month will see the FIA World Council meet to decide on the future of rallying. If, as has been suggested, there is a decision to organize a 12-on, 12-off Championship calendar every year, then Cyprus is expected to again host a WRC event in either 2008 or 2009.
As such, the new Cyprus Rally has actually been designed as a 3-day event, but since MERC rallies are only held over 2 days, this year's Cyprus Rally will be abbreviated accordingly.
Cyprus is hosting two rounds of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship in 2007. The Troodos Rally, round 3 of this year's MERC, was held in Cyprus earlier this year and ended with a clear victory for Qatar's Nasser Al Attiyah – the defending FIA Middle East and PWRC Champion – and co-driver Chris Patterson.
Current Middle East Championship leader Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi of the UAE and co-driver Nick Beech driving for the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) will be looking to score a win at the second of this year's Cyprus MERC events, and are expected to push hard in their Subaru Impreza WRX STi. With Al Qassimi currently 11 points ahead of Al Attiyah on the leaderboard, both drivers are expected to push hard for maximum points at this year's Cyprus Rally.
The 2007 Historic Cyprus Rally will be a chance to see legendary cars from the history of rallying competing once again. To mark this special occasion, the event organizers are offering special packages, including an entry fee which includes free transportation for every entrant's historic rally car and support vehicle from mainland Greece to Cyprus.
The Historic Cyprus Rally will run first in the day, ahead of the Cyprus Rally, and competitors will tackle a total of five Special Stages (three on Day 1, two on Day 2), as opposed to the nine stages of the Cyprus Rally. Historic Rally entrants will also compete under older regulations, which allows for greater flexibility in servicing, for example.
Entries are now open for the 2007 Cyprus Rally and the 2007 Historic Cyprus Rally. Entrants are expected from as far afield as Qatar, the UAE, Jordan, Greece, the UK, Lebanon and of course Cyprus - all battling for victory in the October sunshine.
Source Cyprus Rally