ERC 2019 season recap: Cyprus Rally
Nasser Al-Attiyah grabbed a record-extending sixth Cyprus Rally victory on a pivotal day in the battle for FIA European Rally Championship glory.
With Briton Chris Ingram (Toksport WRT) finishing in second place following the disqualification of Simos Galatariotis due to a parc fermé infringement and Russia’s defending champion Alexey Lukyanuk retiring with technical issues, Ingram left Cyprus with a lead of 19 points with just the inaugural Rally Hungary remaining, when Łukasz Habaj will make it a three-way battle for the title.
The Pole, who lost time due to an electrical issue on the closing leg, is back up to second in the standings, nine ahead of Lukyanuk in the hunt for European rallying’s top prize.
While the overall ERC title remained firmly up for grabs with one event left, Juan Carlos Alonso and Juan Pablo Monasterolo put the ERC2 crown beyond doubt with a battling drive to fourth in class after brake problems caused the Argentines plenty of anguish in the sweltering Cypriot sunshine.
There was also title success for Efrén Llarena and Sara Fernández in ERC3, the Spanish federation pair making the most of the opportunity handed to them by the Peugeot Rally Academy to compete in Cyprus for the first time.
Former FIA World Rally Championship star Mikko Hirvonen’s one-off return to the ERC following a 17-year absence netted a fine third overall. Niki Mayr-Melnhof celebrated an ERC-best fifth behind Habaj, Albert von Thurn und Taxis scored a season-high sixth ahead of Chilean ERC rookie Emilio Fernández.
Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, four-time Hungarian champion Norbert Herczig and Brazilian Paulo Nobre completed the top 10. Bulgaria’s Ekaterina Stratieva topped the ERC Ladies’ Trophy classification for the Saintéloc Junior Team.
CYPRUS RALLY, 27-29 SEPTEMBER 2019
TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 12 stages, 105.62 kilometres)
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 3h02m51.3s
2 Chris Ingram (GBR)/Ross Whittock (GBR) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +3m5.9s
3 Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Ottman (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5 +4m34.0s
4 Łukasz Habaj (PLN)/Daniel Dymurski (PLN) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +5m43.4s
5 Niki Mayr-Melnhof (AUT)/Poldi Welsersheimb (AUT) Ford Fiesta R5 +6m03.0s
6 Albert von Thurn und Taxis (DEU)/Bernhard Ettel (AUT) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +7m01.5s
7 Emilio Fernández (CHL)/Axel Coronado (ESP) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +8m07.7s
8 Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Marshall Clarke (GBR) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +8m50.8s
9 Norbert Herczig (HUN)/Ramón Ferenc (HUN) Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 +9m26.3s
10 Paulo Nobre (BRA)/Gabriel Morales (BRA) ŠKODA Fabia R5 +11m21.5s
FIA ERC2: Petros Panteli (CYP)/ Kyprianos Christodoulou (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
FIA ERC3: Efrén Llarena (ESP)/Sara Fernández (ESP) Peugeot 208 R2
ERC Ladies’ Trophy: Ekaterina Stratieva (BGR) Peugeot 208 R2