Christmas comes early for ERC's Mayr-Melnhof
Niki Mayr-Melnhof was hoping Christmas would come early with a strong result on his FIA European Rally Championship return on the Cyprus Rally, but is instead being slowed by a car which he described as a “Christmas tree”.
A difficult start to the first leg of Cyprus Rally began with a left-rear puncture on Politiko, dropping nearly 50 seconds to stage winner Nasser Al-Attiyah.
He again lost over a minute on stage two, Lefkara, as an assortment of mechanical problems started to kick in.
“It feels like I’m driving a Christmas tree!” said Mayr-Melnhof at the end of stage two.
“It’s like every light on the dashboard is on. Engine cuts, turbo too high, no brakes halfway through. I hope we can get back to service and have a proper car again.”
Trouble also struck his rivals: Andrea Psaltis (Psaltis Auto Parts) retired with engine failure midway through Lefkara, Panayiotis Yiangou (Yiangou Motorsport Ltd) is nursing a damaged front-right CV joint on his Hyundai i20 R5, and a sticking throttle pedal for Rakan Al-Rashed (Toksport WRT) required a DIY fix with an elastic rope, which cost him around 10 minutes in total.
Al-Attiyah continues to lead the rally, 20.3s ahead of reigning ERC champion Alexey Lukyanuk (Saintéloc Junior Team) in second. Last year’s Cyprus Rally winner Simos Galatariotis (Petrolina Racing Team) completes the podium places.