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
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Plus

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Plus

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Plus

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Plus

How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021