Season recap #4: Home ace Galatariotis seals Cyprus ERC win by 0.6s!
Home hero Simos Galatariotis became the first Cypriot winner of his country’s FIA European Rally Championship counter for a decade with a dramatic last-gasp victory over Bruno Magalhães by 0.6s.
In what was the third-closest finish in recent ERC history, Galatariotis and co-driver Antonis Ioannou triumphed despite carrying a front-right puncture to the end of the closing ENEOS Golden Stage. Although victory eluded SEAJETS-backed Magalhães and namesake co-driver Hugo by the smallest of margins, the Portuguese move to the top of the ERC standings at the halfway point of the season.
Nasser Al-Attiyah had stormed into first place on the penultimate stage, taking 20.6s out of Galatariotis to gain a 2.3s lead with one stage remaining. However, Al-Attiyah was forced to stop and change a puncture close to the finish of the Cyprus Rally’s final test, his attempts to continue with a deflating tyre for several kilometres ultimately in vain.
ARC Sport’s Magalhães overtook Al-Attiyah in-stage moments before the finish line to snatch second and the ERC points lead. The Portuguese driver’s approach of being sensible and avoiding rocks at all costs paid dividends, ensuring another top result after his win on the EKO Acropolis Rally.
Four-time Hungarian champion Norbert Herczig was promoted to a surprise second consecutive podium by Al-Attiyah’s delay, finishing 1m21.4s behind Galatariotis aboard his MOL Racing Team ŠKODA Fabia R5. Al-Attiyah settled for fourth for Autotek Motorsport after his late tyre change, while fifth went to Toksport WRT’s Orhan Avcioğlu, his first ERC top five.
ACCR Czech Team-entered Vojtĕch Štajf beat Dávid Botka to sixth by 13.4s, while Albert von Thurn und Taxis scored his first ERC points of 2018 in eighth. Petros Panteli sealed ninth overall and the ERC2 win for the Q8 Oils Rally Team, ahead of a rapidly recovering Alex Tsouloftas in P10. It was an astounding day’s work from Tsouloftas, going fastest on leg two to score seven bonus points and also win the Golden Stage cash prize.
Laurent Pellier dominated ERC3 in a Saintéloc Junior Team PEUGEOT 208 R2, while Emma Falcón beat Catie Munnings to ERC Ladies’ Trophy honours.
Words of a winner (Simos Galatariotis): “Thank you everybody for watching, the support was excellent and we felt it. Of course it’s a great feeling to win the rally, especially after the last stage when we thought all was lost when we had not one but two punctures. In the end we saw people cheering towards the finish line and we said ‘what’s going on here?’. But with a bit of luck – we also deserved it – we are here now!”
ERC1: Simos Galatariotis (CYP)/Antonios Ioannou (CYP) ŠKODA Fabia R5
FIA ERC2: Petros Panteli (CYP)/Kyprias Christodoulou (CYP) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
FIA ERC3: Laurent Pellier (FRA)/Geoffrey Combe (FRA) PEUGEOT 208 R2
ERC Ladies’ Trophy: Emma Falcón (ESP) Citroën DS3 R3T