Panteli tops early ERC2 order on home event
Petros Panteli put his local knowledge to good use in the opening three stages of the Cyprus Rally, establishing a comfortable lead in the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC2 category.
His rivals were well aware of the Cyprus Rally’s tough reputation, and the likes of championship leader Juan Carlos Alonso and Dmitry Feofanov (Sporta Klubs Autostils Rally Team) were cautious from the outset.
“We are not pressing on the first loop, our strategy will be to make a proper distance from the next ERC2 competitors and keep the distance with some safe and proper driving,” said Panteli’s co-driver Kyprianos Christodoulou. “This year’s rally is as tough as it can be, it cannot be tougher than this.”
That allowed Panteli to immediately lead the rally, though fellow Cypriot Antonis Chilimintris in another Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X was looking racy behind him.
But Chilimintris’s bid for victory took a knock when an intercom failure meant he couldn’t hear co-driver Stelios Elia’s pacenotes for the whole of stage two – which is the longest of the rally at 23.23 kilometres – and consequently lost over a minute to Panteli.
Alonso then passed Chilimintris for second place on Analiontas, the final stage of the opening loop, with the pair now separated by only 4.2 seconds.
Feofanov is the last of the Lancer Evolution X quartet, three minutes down on Chilimintris as he learns the rough Cyprus roads for the first time.
Louis Papageorgiou (SLT Rally Team) completes the top five in his older Mistubishi Lancer Evolution IX.