World Championship action hots up in Cyprus

Blistering heat, unbroken sunshine and only a brisk breeze to take the edge off the high-80s temperature is what faces the crews as they prepare to start the newest and, arguably, toughest round of this year's FIA World Rally Championship

World Championship action hots up in Cyprus

Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm heads into the Cyprus Rally with a newly acquired lead in the series, but he has Britain's Richard Burns and Colin McRae snapping at his heels. While the Peugeot has improved immeasurably over the past few months, there remains a questionmark over its reliability, especially in the suspension and gearbox department. However, at yesterday's shakedown test the two Peugeot 206WRCs set the unofficial fastest times.

McRae can look back on a crushing win at the Acropolis Rally for inspiration while Burns, although a non-finisher on the past three rounds with a run of misfortune that cost him the lead in the series, knows that his Subaru is usually more than a match for most on gravel.

The fight for the lead is expected to take place between the three top crews but, as few have any experience of this event, it's tough to predict a winner. Of the registered crews only Armin Schwarz has been here before, winning for Toyota in 1996 before joining Skoda. So, could this be Skoda's finest hour?

In a week that saw Spanish manufacturer SEAT announce its withdrawal from rallying, it would also add a bizarre twist should they do well, although a top result would still be too late to save its rally team from the axe that will fall at the end of this season.

Reigning World Champion Tommi Makinen needs to rediscover his lost form if his championship challenge is to be saved. The Mitsubishi team leader has floundered this season, but there is still a slim chance that he can turn it around and mount a late charge.

In short, anything could happen in Cyprus. Engines and crews need to be kept cool, transmissions will work harder than ever on the slow and twisty roads, while tyres will play a crucial part. McRae says that the fastest car and driver may not be the combination that wins. Indeed, the ability to pace oneself, charge when safe and back off when not, will be the way to win. Anyone not mastering those skills will quickly find themselves back at the pool...

The rally starts tomorrow, Friday, and finishes at around 1645 local time (1445 British Summer Time) on Sunday.

shares
comments
Liatti focuses on asphalt for Ford
Previous article

Liatti focuses on asphalt for Ford

Next article

Rally Australia limits entries

Rally Australia limits entries
The key steps on Rovanpera's romp to a history-making WRC title Plus

The key steps on Rovanpera's romp to a history-making WRC title

With only cameo roles played by legendary Sebastiens Ogier and Loeb, Kalle Rovanpera ushered in the new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship by becoming its youngest champion. Here's how Toyota's Flying Finn crushed the competition, led by Hyundai's departing star Ott Tanak

WRC
Dec 1, 2022
How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book Plus

How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book

At the tender age of 22, Kalle Rovanpera is redefining what’s possible to achieve in rallying and inspiring a new legion of fans as a result. The newly-crowned World Rally Championship title-winner and his peers reflect on his ability and the start of his success in the top tier

WRC
Nov 26, 2022
How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party Plus

How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party

Thierry Neuville signed off the 2022 World Rally Championship season with his second win of the season in Japan after Toyota rival Elfyn Evans suffered a late puncture. With Sebastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanpera also delayed by punctures and incidents, it opened the door for Neuville and Ott Tanak to record Hyundai's second 1-2 of the season in Toyota's own backyard

WRC
Nov 14, 2022
The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer Plus

The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer

Sebastien Ogier might be the outgoing World Rally champion, but it didn’t stop him reminding everyone of the skills that made him an eight-time world champion. As victory at Rally Spain led Toyota’s charge to a titles clean sweep, it did pose a question to newly-crowned champion Kalle Rovanpera which he could not answer

WRC
Oct 24, 2022
Autosport gets to grips as a WRC co-driver Plus

Autosport gets to grips as a WRC co-driver

The majority of headlines may focus on the exploits of drivers in the World Rally Championship, but the challenges facing their co-drivers are no less demanding. Autosport got in the passenger seat with Toyota Gazoo Racing to find out just what it takes to succeed

WRC
Oct 6, 2022
How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge Plus

How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge

Kalle Rovanpera’s coronation as the new World Rally Championship king had been a long time coming, only to be postponed by hiccups in Belgium and Greece. But at Rally New Zealand the “Full Send” Finn demonstrated exactly how he's been able to rewrite the rallying record book as he stormed to victory to become the youngest ever world champion

WRC
Oct 3, 2022
How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career Plus

How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career

Motorsport can be brutal at times. One moment a driver can be the next big thing, but it can spiral in the other direction so quickly. Thankfully, sometimes drivers receive second chances. And Esapekka Lappi has taken his World Rally Championship lifeline in both hands

WRC
Sep 28, 2022
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Plus

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022