Hot pace gives Al-Attiyah ERC Qualifying Stage win in sunny Cyprus
Nasser Al-Attiyah topped the Qualifying Stage for the Cyprus Rally, beating the FIA European Rally Championship title contenders to fastest time.
Five-time Cyprus Rally winner Al-Attiyah went 1.5s faster than reigning ERC champion Alexey Lukyanuk, who begins the rally only one point behind current points leader and ERC1 Junior Championship runner-up Chris Ingram.
“The pace is hot. We were pushing! But we need to have a good position for tomorrow,” said Al-Attiyah.
“The car is working very well and I’m happy to compete here against all the good ERC drivers. We are so excited.”
Norbert Herczig (MOL Racing Team) pulled off a stunning Qualifying Stage time to go third fastest, half a second faster than last year’s winner Simos Galatariotis (Petrolina Racing Team) who qualified fourth.
Ingram (Toksport WRT) completed the top five ahead of Mikko Hirvonen (MM-Motorsport), who is making his first ERC appearance since 2002. The 15-time world championship rally winner clipped a chicane and picked up cosmetic damage to the front-right corner of his Ford Fiesta.
The last of the three ERC title contenders, Łukasz Habaj (Sports Racing Technologies), went seventh quickest, with Niki Mayr-Melnhof, Emilio Fernàndez (Toksport WRT) and Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari completing the top 10.
Panayiotis Yiangou (Yiangou Motorsport Ltd) will be the last driver to select their road order position in Nicosia this afternoon, thanks to finishing P15 on the Qualifying Stage.
Tibor Érdi Jr. (Érdi Team Kft.) had gone sixth quickest on his only free practice run but lost the chance to replicate his earlier pace on the Qualifying Stage, his car grinding to a halt mid-stage with a technical issue.
After a long delay Érdi was able to fire up his car and complete the stage, eight minutes slower than Al-Attiyah’s time.
Albert von Thurn und Taxis (Baumschlager Rallye & Racing) and Juan Carlos Alonso both missed the Qualifying Stage due to issues for both in free practice: a rollover for von Thurn und Taxis and an oil leak on Alonso’s Mistubishi Lancer Evolution X.