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Top drivers to compete in 2005 Cyprus Rally
2005-03-01 12:02:42

Nicosia, Mar 1 (CNA) - Some of the world's leading rally drivers will be battling for honours during the 18 stages of the 2005 Cyprus Rally, the sixth round of the 16-event FIA WRC calendar, which will take place between the 12th and 15th of May.

The 2005 FIA WRC Cyprus Rally received its official Middle East launch last weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit, an event widely covered in the print and television media of the Gulf region, which was in line with the objective of the Cyprus Rally organisers, the Cyprus Automobile Association (CAA), to encourage as many people as possible to visit the island at the time of the rally.

At the press conference, the position of the Cyprus Rally as the regional WRC event of the Middle East was confirmed.

The press conference was arranged in co-ordination with the circuit and was attended by three of the region's premier rally drivers, who took the top places in last year's FIA Middle East Championship, the United Arab Emirates' Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassami, Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, the runner up in the championship, and Andreas Tsouloftas, the Cyprus champion.

Takis Kyriakides, Clerk of the Course for the Cyprus Rally, said the event has become ''a familiar and much loved part of the World Rally Championship, and over the past six years it has become the World Rally Championship of the Middle East.''

''It offers the chance for Middle East rally enthusiasts to see close up all the world superstars of the championship circuit driving the major manufacturers' cars,'' he added.

The formidable duo of Al Wahaibi and Al-Attiyah have confirmed their participation in the event, which features some of the most challenging gravel routes in the FIA WRC calendar, and the CAA has also confirmed it is offering free entrance to this year's event to Al-Qassimi, as the winner of last year's FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

Kyriakides said ''Al Wahaibi and Al-Attiyah will participate in the event's Production Cars World Rally Championship category N, and will arrive in Cyprus with high hopes of scoring valuable points in their pursuit of this championship.''

''It is a further testimony to the appeal of the Cyprus Rally that 19 of the 21 crews competing for the category's N title this year have already confirmed their participation in the event, making it one of the largest in the calendar,'' he noted.

A major innovation for this year's event is the Palais de Sport, the permanent combined Service Park, Rally Headquarters and Media Facility in the suburbs of Limassol, which is designed to provide the 2005 Cyprus Rally participants and members of the press with a one-stop-shop facility for all their rally needs.

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