2008 Troodos Rally Gets Underway
Nicosia, Nov 7 - The penultimate round of the 2008 FIA Middle East Rally Championship got underway in Geroskipou today with the ceremonial start of the 2008 Troodos Rally.
According to a press release issued today, “this year’s Troodos Rally promises to be the most exciting ever. Rally fans from across Cyprus and beyond descended upon Geroskipou, near Paphos, this evening to catch their first glimpse of the crews who will be competing here over the weekend”.
Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah has dominated the Troodos Rally in recent years, winning the last 5 consecutive events. He will be hoping his run of success continues. If Al-Attiyah and his Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson can steer their Subaru Impreza to a top-two finish, they will secure the 2008 Middle East Championship title. Plus, victory here would also see Al-Attiyah enter the record books as the first driver ever to win 3 FIA Championships in the same year – following his victories in the FIA Cup for Cross Country Baja, and the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.
However, Al-Attiyah will not find it easy going, as the best drivers in the region are competing in Cyprus this weekend. Young Cypriot Nicos Thomas is currently involved in a gripping battle with fellow competitor Nick Georgiou of Lebanon to secure guaranteed World Rally Championship drives next season. The Pirelli Star Driver competition will give WRC drives to either Thomas or Georgiou next year – dependant on which driver finishes highest in the 2008 Middle East standings. Georgiou currently leads, but Thomas’ victory at the Cyprus Rally sets him in good stead for the Troodos event. If Thomas is successful, it will take their battle to the last round of this year’s Middle East Championship in Dubai.
A host of top Cypriot drivers are taking part, including Charalambos Timotheou – the winner of the 2007 Cyprus Rally, Constantinos Tingirides, Andreas Tsouloftas, Savvas Savva, and Stavros Antoniou. Local rally fans also welcome the return of 1990 Cyprus Rally winner Dimis Mavropoulos, competing again after a number of years away from the sport.
The best drivers from across the region are also here, including Misfer Al-Marri of Qatar, Lebanon’s Roger Feghali and Michel Saleh, Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Oman’s Nizar Al-Shanfari and Kuwait’s Mshari Al-Thafiri.
The Troodos Rally has moved to the west coast this year, where it is based around the picturesque town of Geroskipou.
The Ceremonial Finish will be held at Geroskipou’s CTO Tourist Beach at 5:00 p.m. The Rally Headquarters is situated at Geroskipou’s Aliathon Hotel, as is the Service Park, where the public have plenty of opportunity to see the competing crews and cars first hand.