IRC - Final Rnd 13 Cyprus - Gravel 02-04 Nov talk/results spoiler**
Next the Final Rnd 13 Cyprus - Gravel 02-04 Nov
The Cyprus Rally joined the IRC for the first time in 2010 and became an instant hit with drivers and fans alike. Rough and rocky gravel roads, smooth and broken asphalt, plus punishing ambient temperatures combine to make the event one of the toughest on the calendar. IRC appearances: Two (2010-2011)
After SS1: Mikkelsen takes early IRC Cyprus lead
Andreas Mikkelsen leads the Cyprus Rally after setting the pace on the opening special stage through the streets of Pafos tonight.
The defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion from Norway took 2m48.6s to complete the 3.20-kilometre test in his ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, the running of which was delayed and then interrupted while event organisers waited for the huge numbers of fans that flocked to watch the action around Pafos Town Hall to take up safe viewing spots.
IRC Production Cup contender Jarkko Nikara, from Finland, was a sensational second fastest – 4.4s down on Mikkelsen – in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI with Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah, the winner in Cyprus in 2010, third quickest, 5.7s adrift of Mikkelsen at the wheel of an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC.
Japanese Subaru driver Toshi Arai equalled Al-Attiyah’s time with Sepp Wiegand fifth fastest for ŠKODA Auto Deutschland and Yazeed Al-Rajhi setting the sixth best time in his Fiesta.
Saturday’s action begins with stage two, the 23.97-kilometre Koilinia test at 08:13hrs local time. Twenty-two per cent of the stage is on Tarmac with 78 per cent running on gravel.
After SS2: Nasser wins stage, takes first place
Nasser Al-Attiyah is the new leader of the Cyprus Rally, the final round of the all-action 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge season, following a dramatic second stage of the mixed-surface event.
ŠKODA UK Motorsport’s overnight leader Andreas Mikkelsen, who cannot be caught in the battle for this year’s IRC title, dropped back when he stopped to change a right-rear puncture 10 kilometres into the 23.97-kilometre Koilinia test.
The Norwegian had been on top by 4.4s following Friday night’s Pafos Super Special Stage but now trails new leader and stage winner Al-Attiyah – in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC – by 2m34.7s after his delay.
Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who was second fastest, climbs from sixth to move ahead of Jarkko Nikara into second overall although the Finn continues to top the IRC Production Cup battle in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI.
Elsewhere, Sepp Wiegand, representing ŠKODA Auto Deutschland, has moved ahead of Toshi Arai for fourth place. However, Marco Tempestini’s bid for the IRC Production Cup title has suffered a major setback after he dropped more than five minutes in his Subaru, while Andreas Aigner, another title contender, has yet to post a time for the stage.
After SS3: Mikkelsen fights back, Al-Rajhi crashes Andreas Mikkelsen has hit back following his delay on stage two by setting the pace through the 12.43-kilometre mixed-surface Salamiou stage.
However, damage to the suspension of his ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000 caused by the earlier puncture is of considerable concern to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion ahead of the all-gravel 30.41-kilometre Panayia run, which gets underway at 09:59hrs local time.
Elsewhere, Yazeed Al-Rajhi has crashed out of second place in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta, although reports that he rolled several times have been denied by his team. Russian Fiesta driver Vasily Gryazin was also in trouble in the stage, spinning his Fiesta. He was 41.1s off the pace.
Out front, Nasser Al-Attiyah now leads ŠKODA Auto Deutschland’s Sepp Wiegand by 1m04.1s. Wiegand has never competed in Cyprus before and is chasing his first podium in the IRC. “It’s difficult to find the rhythm but this stage was better though,” said the German youngster.
The Intercontinental Rally Challenge finale in Cyprus continues to provide thrilling action with leader Nasser Al-Attiyah completing stage four with a broken front driveshaft and an alternator glitch on his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC.
However, with second-placed Sepp Wiegand dropping more than one minute when he spun his ŠKODA Auto Deutschland Fabia Super 2000 and had to reverse, Al-Attiyah’s lead out front remains in tact, although Wiegand has now slipped behind ŠKODA UK’s stage winner Andreas Mikkelsen in the overall classification.
Crews enter the 30-minute service halt in Pafos at 11:49hrs local time. Stage five, Koilinia, gets underway at 13:17hrs.
After SS6: Al-Attiyah not concerned by Mikkelsen speed
Nasser Al-Attiyah says he’s not worried about Andreas Mikkelsen’s pace on the Cyprus Rally, despite the Norwegian making it five stage wins out of six on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge event.
Mikkelsen, who dropped time stopping to change a puncture on stage two, was 3.6s quicker than Al-Attiyah through the 12.43-kilometre Salamiou test to narrow his Qatari rival’s advantage out front to 1m18.7s with one stage of the opening day remaining.
“I’m not too concerned about Andreas’ pace,” Al-Attiyah told reporter Colin Clark at the finish of stage six. “If we keep our pace we will win this rally.”
ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver Mikkelsen, meanwhile, says he’s pushing to the limit in an effort to catch Al-Attiyah’s Autotek Motorsport M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC. He said: “I’m pushing to the limits, sometimes over the limits. The rocks are big but my car’s bigger.”
Elsewhere, Sepp Wiegand was third fastest for ŠKODA Auto Deutschland with Jarkko Nikara fourth quickest in his IRC Production Cup-chasing Subaru Impreza R4 STI, just four-tenths up on Tommi Mäkinen Racing team-mate Toshi Arai.
“I’m feeling better this afternoon but when I look at the times it’s not good,” said Wiegand. “I’m a long way from the top boys.”
Sepp Wiegand has hit trouble in his bid for a maiden Intercontinental Rally Challenge podium.
The rising German ace started Saturday’s final stage in third place but has failed to make it through the all-gravel Panayia run amid reports of broken steering on his ŠKODA Auto Deutschland Fabia Super 2000.
Meanwhile, reigning IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen’s run of stage wins on the Cyprus Rally is over after he picked up a front-left puncture.
Driving a ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, Mikkelsen had been fastest on all but one stage today. He was seven kilometres from the finish of the 30.41-kilometre test and was 16s quicker than event leader Nasser Al-Attiyah when he hit trouble, leaving Al-Attiyah to claim the stage win in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC.
"I drove like crazy for the first 17 kilometres but then got a puncture seven kilometres from the end,” said Mikkelsen, who will start Sunday’s final six stages trailing Al-Attiyah by 1m30.2s.
Elsewhere, Jarkko Nikara’s hopes of IRC Production Cup victory are in doubt after he stopped to change a puncture on his Subaru Impreza R4 STI. His Tommi Mäkinen Racing team-mate Toshi Arai now tops the class in a staggering third overall.
IRC Cyprus Rally day one review: Al-Attiyah on top
Nasser Al-Attiyah leads the Cyprus Rally following a day of high drama on the sun-baked final round of the all-action 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
In ambient temperatures of 26 degrees centigrade, the Qatari, who took time out of his rallying career during the summer to win the bronze medal in the men’s skeet shooting section of the London 2012 Olympics, completed Saturday’s mixed-surface route with an advantage of 1m30.2s over Andreas Mikkelsen from Norway.
Mikkelsen started the event with an unassailable advantage in his bid to make it back-to-back IRC titles and was leading following Friday night’s Super Special Stage through the streets of host town Pafos. But a right-rear puncture on stage two resulted in a costly stop, while a broken right-rear damper meant further delay for the ŠKODA UK Motorsport ace. He set a succession of fastest times in his bid to make up the lost time thereafter only to slip further back when he suffered a front-left puncture eight kilometres from the finish of Saturday’s final stage while on a flat-out charge.
Despite leading, Al-Attityah hasn’t enjoyed an entirely trouble-free day after an alternator warning light on stage four left him momentarily distracted and resulted in him striking a rock, which bent his Fiesta’s front-left steering. Repairs at service, including the fitting of a new alternator, restored his car to full working order. Although Al-Attiyah was unable to match Mikkelsen’s pace during the afternoon loop of stages, his comfortable margin meant he hasn’t needed to push.
“It’s not been easy today,” said Al-Attiyah. “We made the decision to use the [reinforced] Michelin tyre, which is heavier, but it’s better to lose 10s in a stage than a lot more time with a puncture as the risk of punctures is very high in Cyprus. I need to win this rally for the Middle East championship and now we have a good lead for tomorrow. Our strategy then will depend on the pace of Andreas but I am not concerned about his pace. If we keep our pace we will win this rally.”
Mikkelsen said he had been taking big risks to cut the deficit to Al-Attiyah when he was delayed on stage seven. “I was taking one second per kilometre out of Nasser but then we had another puncture. To be honest it could have happened anywhere because I was on the limit everywhere hitting everything. The win is out of my hands now, I will not be able to catch Nasser on pace alone.”
Sepp Wiegand was on course for his maiden podium finish in IRC when broken steering forced the ŠKODA Auto Deutschland driver’s retirement on Saturday’s closing stage. The youngster, making his Cyprus debut, had lost time when he spun on stage four and spent several seconds getting his Fabia S2000 pointing in the right direction in a narrow part of the run.
Wiegand’s misfortune has elevated IRC Production Cup leader Toshi Arai into third overall, despite the Japanese Subaru Impreza R4 STI driver spending two minutes stuck off the road on stage three when he overshot a junction. It took the intervention of his co-driver, Dale Moscatt, to enable Arai to get back on the road after the Australian dragged several large rocks out of the way.
Arai’s Tommi Mäkinen Racing team-mate Jarkko Nikara had been leading the category only for a puncture to drop him back on stage seven. He lost more time in dust clouds created by Marco Tempestini’s Subaru after the Italian-born Romanian stopped to change a puncture of his own. In the confusion, Nikara, who has struggled with a headache and sickness throughout the day, damaged his Impreza’s front-right suspension striking a rock.
Savvas Savva is the top Cypriot driver in fourth with Armin Kremer, from Germany, sixth, despite encountering a few mechanical issues in his Subaru. Hungarian ŠKODA driver László Vizin is ninth following a spin and an overshoot this morning.
Other drivers in trouble today included Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who was second when he rolled 40 metres down a drop on stage three, and Qatari Khalid Al-Suwaidi who went off nearing the end of stage four and got stuck. Russia’s Vasily Gryazin overcame a spin in the morning but then stopped on stage seven.
Andreas Aigner’s hopes of winning the IRC Production Cup were dealt a huge blow when his Subaru developed a brake fault a handful of kilometres into stage two, leading to the Austrian’s retirement. Tempestini was also in trouble early on thanks to a broken centre differential, while brake issues hampered Vitaliy Pushkar.
Robert Consani was on track to win the IRC 2WD Cup title when clutch failure triggered his exit on stage four and handed the impetus back to class rival Harry Hunt, who’d been leading until he picked up a front-left puncture halfway through stage three. Consani will restart on day two but must now hope that Hunt falters if he is to win the crown in his Renault Clio R3. Although the IRC 2WD Cup could be out of reach for Consani, the Frenchman still tops the IRC Production Cup standings even though he’s not able to score category points this weekend due to the car he’s using in Cyprus being ineligible for the class.
Behind Hunt, Hungary’s Menya Krózser is a strong second in the IRC 2WD Cup with young Cypriot driver Panikos Poykarpou in third place followed by Honda Civic driver Zacharias Manoli.
Sunday’s action covers 100.32 competitive kilometres and consists of three stages run twice: the mixed-surface Prodromi run, the all-gravel Gialia test and the Tarmac-only Stavros stage, either side of service in Pafos. The finish outside Pafos Town Hall will take place at 17:31hrs local time.
After SS8: Mikkelsen on a charge with rapid stage win
Andreas Mikkelsen has taken a staggering 21.3s out of Nasser Al-Attiyah in the battle for first place on the Cyprus Rally following what his ŠKODA UK Motorsport team described as a “flat-out” charge.
The defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion was fastest on Sunday’s opening stage, the mixed-surface 19.43-kilometre Prodromi run, and has narrowed Al-Attiyah’s advantage to 1m08.9s as a result with five stages remaining.
Despite high ambient and ground temperatures, Mikkelsen is using a combination of soft and hard Michelin tyres on his Fabia Super 2000 in a diagonal formation in a bid to up his speed, while Al-Attiyah has opted to run with hard compound tyres only on his Autotek Motorsport M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC.
Both are carrying two spare tyres with Mikkelsen selecting two heavily scrubbed covers for the all-Tarmac Stavros stage later this morning.
Al-Attiyah, who is dropping precious seconds running at the head of the field over the loose-surface gravel, told Colin Clark at the stage finish: “It was very, very slippery and we try to manage the gap to Andreas. We had one big moment in a compression.”
Mikkelsen added: “I will give it everything to try and catch Nasser, that was one big push.”
Jarkko Nikara has demoted top Cypriot Savvas Savva for fourth overall in his Yokohama-shod Subaru Impreza R4 STI despite reporting a heavy hit through a compression. However, his Tommi Mäkinen Racing team-mate Toshi Arai continues to head the IRC Production Cup division by more than three minutes following Nikara’s delay on Saturday’s stage seven.
After SS9: Mikkelsen closing on Al-Attiyah in Cyprus
The outcome of the Cyprus Rally remains wide open after Andreas Mikkelsen closed up to within 57.8s of leader Nasser Al-Attiyah by winning the second stage of the final day of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge round.
Mikkelsen, in a ŠKODA UK Motorsport UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, was 11.1s quicker than his Qatari rival, who is running first on the road in an Autotek Motorsport M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC.
Sepp Wiegand was second fastest through the 14.82-kilometre all-gravel Gialia stage, 2.0s down on Mikkelsen, in his ŠKODA Auto Deutschland Fabia. He has now moved up to seventh place in the overall standings as a result of his endeavours.
Andreas Aigner was fourth fastest in a Subaru Impreza R4 STI. Jarkko Nikara was fifth quickest with Tommi Mäkinen Racing team-mate Toshi Arai sixth.
After SS10: Mikkelsen flies, Al-Attiyah still leads
Nasser Al-Attiyah will take a lead of 49.0s into the final three stages of the Cyprus Rally after reigning Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Andreas Mikkelsen took more time out of him by winning Sunday’s third stage.
ŠKODA UK Motorsport driver Mikkelsen was 1m30.2s adrift at the overnight halt in Pafos but claimed his third stage best of the morning by going 8.8s quicker than Al-Attiyah on the 15.91-kilometre all-asphalt Stavros stage.
Al-Attiyah must win the event in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC to maintain his push for the Middle East championship, while Mikkelsen will seal his second IRC crown in style and his fifth event win in the series if he can get ahead of Al-Attiyah.
Crews are now making their way back to the 30-minute service halt in Pafos. Stage 11, the repeat of the 19.43-kilometre Prodromi test, which features 36 per cent asphalt and 64 per cent gravel, gets underway at 14:02hrs local time.
After SS11: Delay for Mikkelsen puts Al-Attiyah clear
Andreas Mikkelsen’s audacious bid to catch Nasser Al-Attiyah and win the Cyprus Rally looks to be over after he picked up a puncture on his ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000 on the 19.43-kilometre mixed-surface Prodromi stage.
Mikkelsen, who started the event with an unassailable lead in his chase for a second Intercontinental Rally Challenge title, lost almost two minutes stopping to change the damaged tyre. It means he now trails Al-Attiyah, in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC, by 2m44.1s with two stages remaining.
Speaking to Colin Clark at the stage finish prior to learning of Mikkelsen’s delay, Al-Attiyah said: “We did a better time from the morning. He will be pushing but we must take care. We try to do our best but we see lots of smoke with the brakes overheating.”
Andreas Aigner impressed with the second fastest time in his Stohl Racing Subaru Impreza R4 STI. The Austrian was 0.1s quicker than ŠKODA Auto Deutschland’s Sepp Wiegand, who moves ahead of Cypriot Savvas Savva into fifth overall.
Hungarian privateer László Vizin is now up to eighth overall in his Eurosol Racing Team Fabia.
After SS13: Floene takes the wheel as Al-Attiyah wins rally
Andreas Mikkelsen has sacrificed the chance to claim his 100th stage victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge by switching seats with co-driver Ola Flĝene for the final run of the Cyprus Rally.
With limited driving experience, navigator Flĝene proved no match to Nasser Al-Attiyah, who sealed victory on the IRC season-closer by winning the all-asphalt Stavros test in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC.
The Qatari took the lead on Saturday’s first stage when Mikkelsen suffered the first of four punctures, and was never truly threatened thereafter, despite Mikkelsen’s trio of stage wins this morning.
But having used both of his spare tyres following a double puncture on stage 11, Mikkelsen adopted a cautious approach over the closing tests before handing the keys of his Fabia Super 2000 to his co-driver for the last run. Nevertheless, he and Flĝene were able to celebrate their second IRC title triumph in succession with the runner-up spot for ŠKODA UK Motorsport.
Jarkko Nikara impressed with the second fastest time through the 15.91-kilometre stage in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI, 7.1s down on Al-Attiyah. Toshi Arai was third quickest to secure victory in the IRC Production Cup. Harry Hunt completed the stage to win the IRC 2WD Cup for a second time.
Crews are now heading back to the final service in Pafos prior to the podium ceremony outside the Pafos Town Hall at 17:31hrs local time.
IRC Cyprus Rally day two review: Al-Attiyah wins, Mikkelsen celebrates title two
Nasser Al-Attiyah has completed the all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge season six with victory on the Cyprus Rally, which finished in Pafos this afternoon following two days of high drama.
By claiming the runner-up spot, Andreas Mikkelsen wrapped up his second consecutive IRC title alongside co-driver Ola Flĝene having started the event with an unassailable points advantage. Robert Consani secured the IRC Production Cup with Harry Hunt and Renault clinching the IRC 2WD Cup drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles respectively.
Qatari Al-Attiyah – a London 2010 Olympics bronze medallist – started day two with a lead of more than 90 seconds over Mikkelsen, who had been delayed by a brace of punctures on Saturday. Although the young Norwegian, in a ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, fought back to a deficit of 49s with a succession of stage wins, a double tyre deflation, caused by big hit on the spectacular Prodromi run on Sunday afternoon, ended his outside hopes of victory and enabled Al-Attiyah to cruise to his second IRC career win and the third for M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta Regional Rally Car in this season’s series.
“It’s been a really fantastic weekend,” said Al-Attiyah. “Our plan was to finish without any punctures and this is what we did. Everything has been working well, the tyres, the car, me, the co-driver, the team, everybody has done a good job. I’m also leading the Middle East championship so now I’m very happy. Andreas was not so lucky and had some problems but this is part of the game – you need a lot of experience on this rally.”
Mikkelsen, meanwhile, handed Flĝene the wheel of their Fabia for the rain-hit closing test, which meant he was one stage best short of making it 100 stage wins in the IRC. “We’ve had two remarkable years with ŠKODA UK who have given me the opportunity to get my international career on track and I am so thankful to them,” said Mikkelsen, whose charging performance earned him the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy. “The IRC has been perfect for me and the team and now I hope I have proved everybody wrong who doubted me as being the right driver for this car by winning my second title.”
Toshi Arai finished third in his Subaru Impreza R4 STI for his and the Japanese car make’s maiden IRC podium with Tommi Mäkinen Racing team-mate Jarkko Nikara taking a strong fourth. Sepp Wiegand fought back from his exit with broken steering on stage seven to finish fifth for ŠKODA Auto Deutschland after he demoted leading Cypriot driver Savvas Savva in the closing stages. German Armin Kremer took seventh with Hungarian László Vizin eighth in his Eurosol Racing Team Fabia.
IRC Production Cup
Toshi Arai might not have been able to successfully defend his IRC Production Cup title this season but he emerged from the Cyprus Rally victorious nevertheless following his first win of 2012. Driving a Subaru Impreza R4 STI for rallying legend Tommi Mäkinen’s eponymous team, Arai took advantage when team-mate Jarkko Nakara suffered significant delay on stage seven and controlled his sizeable lead to the finish. Cypriot Savvas Savva finished third with German Armin Kremer fourth.
Andreas Aigner started the event in contention for the IRC Production Cup crown but a brake cylinder failure on stage two led to his retirement. He restarted on the second day and although he was quickest in class on five stages to finish in eighth place, it wasn’t enough to give the Austrian the 22 points he needed to overhaul Renault driver Robert Consani, who captured the title alongside co-driver Nicolas Klinger, despite the French pair not being eligible for category points this weekend. Marco Tempestini and Vitaliy Pushkar were also in contention for the award but were in trouble early on.
IRC 2WD Cup
With title rival Robert Consani unable to restart on day two following the clutch failure that forced him out on day one, Harry Hunt just had to reach the finish to secure the IRC 2WD Cup for a second time. Despite missing the event through injury, Hunt’s regular navigator Robbie Durant bagged the co-drivers’ spoils. Young Cypriot driver Panikos Polykarpou finished second with Zacharias Manoli third for Honda.
Janner Rally January 4/5
Winter Rally January 26/27
Azores Rally February 21-23
Circuit of Ireland April 5/6
Tour de Corse May 8-10
Croatia Rally May 23-25
Ypres Rally June 20-22
Rally San Marino July 4-6
Sibiu Rally July 18-20
Rally Zlin August 30/31
Rally Poland September 27/28
Cyprus Rally October 31-November 2
Last edited by Weasel 555; 11-04-2012 at 11:35 AM.