Crews to go flat out for the Golden Stage Rally prize

A highly-charged sprint for glory

By Franck Drui

1 November 2010 - 07:48
Crews to go flat out for the Golden (…)

More than 40 drivers from Europe and around the world will do battle over a prize fund of 150,000 Euros when they contest the inaugural Love Cyprus Golden Stage Rally, which takes place on the Mediterranean island on Sunday 7 November.

A joint initiative between Eurosport Events, the promoter of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, and the Cyprus Automobile Association, the innovative event will be contested over one 25-kilometre mixed-surface stage, the Golden Stage, run twice.

Televised live on Eurosport and Cypriot channel LumiereTV, the Golden Stage Rally promises to be a spectacular all-action affair with drivers pushing to the maximum over the largely downhill stage, which features asphalt and gravel sections.

Unlike conventional rallies where drivers have to consider preserving their cars over a longer distance, the Golden Stage Rally will effectively become a highly-charged sprint for glory with crews set to throw caution to the wind in their pursuit of the 30,000 Euros prize handed to the winner.

The format will not only appeal to drivers and co-drivers but to the many thousands of fans lining the route and watching at home live on television, some of whom may have never watched a rally before. While some rallies are known for their test of endurance, the Golden Stage Rally will be more akin to a Formula One qualifying session with every second counting.

The route for the Golden Stage Rally has been carefully selected by a team of rally experts, including Jean-Pierre Nicolas, the winner of the 1978 Rallye Monte-Carlo. The course starts near the village of Kellaki in the hills above the port town of Limassol in the south of Cyprus and works its way down to the finish near the village of Armenochori close to a spectacular dam. Part of the stage runs adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea.

Drivers will run in reverse order based on their allocated numbers and 10 priority drivers, including two from Cyprus, will be selected by the event organisers to run last and ensure the result of the inaugural Golden Stage Rally is not known until the last car completes the final 25-kilometre run.

The event is open to drivers competing with Super 2000, Group N and Group A (up to A7) cars, in both the two-wheel and four-wheel drive categories.

Bryan Bouffier, a multiple championship-winning driver from France, will compete in a Peugeot 207 Super 2000 and is one of the favourites for victory. He said: "On most rallies you have to manage your car over 250 kilometres. On the Golden Stage Rally you just have to push. The strategy will be to push hard on the first run and then push even harder on the second."

Nasser Al-Attiyah, the reigning Middle East rally champion, will drive an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000. The Qatari has extensive experience of competing in Cyprus and is relishing the prospect of entering the Golden Stage Rally. "It’s going to be something special," said Al-Attiyah. "It won’t be easy because there is pressure and a lot of risk as you will be on maximum attack but I am very excited by this rally and so should the fans be watching by the stage and on Eurosport."

The Love Cyprus Golden Stage Rally gets underway with the first of two runs at 11:03hrs local time. The second run is scheduled to start at 14:03hrs local time. Stage times will be combined to determine the overall results.

Love Cyprus Golden Stage Rally contenders

Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar, M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000): Multiple Middle East rally champion has represented his country in the Men’s Skeet shooting in the Olympic Games on four occasions

Misfer Almari (Qatar, Subaru Impreza N16): The current leader of the Middle East Rally Championship, Almari is part of Qatar’s young driver development programme

Bryan Bouffier (France, Peugeot 207 S2000): Factory Peugeot Sport driver who has enjoyed success in his homeland and in Poland, where he is a double title-winner

Burcu Cetinkaya (Turkey, Peugeot 207 S2000): Became the first female to score IRC points on Rally of Scotland last month. When she’s not driving Cetinkaya works as a TV presenter

Roman Kresta (Czech Republic, Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX): Kresta, an ex-works Ford WRC driver, finished sixth on the Cyprus Rally in 2005, his last visit to the island

Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway, M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000): Mikkelsen, a former downhill skier, learned to drive rally cars on a frozen lake before he was old enough to drive on the road

Daniel Oliveira (Brazil, Peugeot 207 S2000): Novice Oliveira is being mentored by former WRC podium finisher Manfred Stohl, who was second in Cyprus in 2006

Martin Prokop (Czech Republic, M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000): Extensive experience in world championship rallies. Won the Junior section of the mixed-surface Cyprus Rally in 2009

Nicos Thomas (Cyprus, Peugeot 207 S2000): The youngest winner of the Cyprus Rally, a feat he achieved aged 20 in 2008, Thomas is making the transition to Super 2000 technology

Franz Wittmann (Austria, Peugeot 207 S2000): Following in the footsteps of his father Franz Wittmann Sr, Wittmann Jr has been a regular in the IRC since 2009

Love Cyprus Golden Stage Rally essentials

Event: Love Cyprus Golden Stage Rally
Starts/finishes: Sunday 7 November
Entries received: 41
Surface: Gravel and asphalt
Number of stages: 2
Special stage distance: 50.00 kilometres
Liaison distance: 90.52km
Total distance: 140.52km
SS1: Love Cyprus Golden Stage Run 1 (25.00kms), 11:03hrs
SS2: Love Cyprus Golden Stage Run 2 (25.00kms), 14:03hrs

Love Cyprus Golden Stage Rally TV times

Eurosport and Cypriot channel LumiereTV will show live coverage of the Golden Stage Rally on Sunday 7 November as follows:

11:00hrs-12:00hrs CET (Eurosport and LumiereTV): LIVE Golden Stage Run 1
14:00hrs-15:00hrs CET (Eurosport and LumiereTV): LIVE Golden Stage Run 2


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