CYPRUS RALLY – May 14th – 16th, Round 5
A rugged, gravel and low speed event due to the very rough stages around the Troodos Mountains. This beautiful Mediterranean island is home to very few straights beyond 100 metres. The route is very testing on all team members when you consider the co drivers have up to three times the volume of pace-note instructions for their drivers than on any other WRC event.
The event utilises stages of diverse character, from pine wooded mountain roads, to open farmland of the lowlands through the olive groves and fruit orchards near to the rally base around Limassol. The action is visually stunning with many ford crossings and jumps to satisfy the most ardent of fans. Viewing the WRC cars descend down the numerous mountainsides onto the plains chased by their dust trails and support helicopter, is one to savour. The weather range across these stages is often as dramatic, which those who witnessed the torrential (but warm) storms in the mountains in 2002, whilst the service area personnel were shading from the 100 F sunshine would testify.
The route is the most compact of the WRC, with no stages beyond 80km from the holiday resort of Limassol. Coupled to limited spectator numbers, this event is questionably the best event to get close to the action without having to discipline yourself to early starts and late finishes, prevalent in many other events in the calendar. Frequently viewed unfairly as the poor relation to the Greek round of the championship, Cyprus is a very slick rally, worthy of much greater spectator interest than it currently enjoys.
Historic holiday town
Limassol has all the facilities of a major holiday resort with an excellent latenight scene of bars and clubs. All types of restaurants can be found along the seafront strip; from traditional Cypriot and Greek tavernas to Italian, Chinese and even Indian. By its nature as a package holiday island, it pays to extend your stay beyond the rally and relax by the poolside bar or on the beach.
Cyprus is simply an excellent event, where you can enjoy world class rallying in a picturesque and relaxed country, without battling massive crowds.
Solberg the new Master?
A rally of great attrition, Solberg mastered the need for caution across the rough stages and great speed on the smoother sections to take his first WRC victory in 2003.
The tricky conditions favour no-one and often lead to many incidents as in 2002 when eight of the top crews rolled their cars. An event understood to be “less specialised” than others, the new stars can possibly breakthrough into the ranks of WRC event victors