Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah (pictured) is a seven-time Middle East champion and a huge fan of the Cypriot stages. A London 2012 Olympics bronze medallist in the men’s skeet shooting event, Al-Attiyah is armed with an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC and is a firm contender for victory with Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini.
Andreas Mikkelsen won the Cyprus Rally last season to clinch the IRC title in a thrilling five-way shootout. A Mikkelsen victory would not only confirm the talented youngster as the first back-to-back IRC champion, it would also hand ŠKODA its 28th IRC event victory.
Sepp Wiegand has impressed throughout his maiden IRC season for ŠKODA Auto Deutschland and will complete his campaign in Cyprus looking to add to his experience of Super 2000 competition and claim his first podium after coming extremely close on the Sibiu Rally in Romania in July.
Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi is no stranger to IRC competition having tackled selected events in the past for Kronos Racing. He now competes in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 under the Yazeed Racing banner, also the car of choice for Russian Vasily Gryazin.
Khalid Al-Suwaidi, from Qatar, will be at the wheel of a Fiesta RRC, as will multiple Lebanese champion Roger Feghali, who shone on the IRC’s first visit to Cyprus in 2010. Hungarian veteran László Vizincompletes the Super 2000 runners eligible for IRC points in a Eurosol Racing Fabia.
IRC Production Cup
With Robert Consani switching to his Renault Clio R3 due to his Renault Mégane RS not being homologated for use on gravel events, the French title leader won’t be able to defend his 22-point advantage in Cyprus. That will play into the hands of Dream Team Ukraine’s Vitaliy Pushkar and Subaru Impreza R4 STI runners Andreas Aigner (Austria) and Marco Tempestini (Romania). Outgoing champion Toshi Arai, from Japan, exciting Finn Jarkko Nikara, Lebanese youngster Nick Georgiou, Germany’s Armin Kremer, Hungarian Miklós Bujdos and Cypriot Charalambos Timotheou will also be in the fight for IRC Production Cup glory.
IRC 2WD Cup
While Robert Consani won’t be able to defend his IRC Production Cup lead, he will be firmly in the thick of the scrap for the IRC 2WD Cup in his Renault Clio R3. Consani, from France, holds an 11-point margin over Briton Harry Hunt, who clinched the IRC 2WD Cup title in Cyprus back in 2010. Elsewhere Zacharias Manoli heads the Honda challenge in his Civic, while Menya Krózser switches cars following a heavy crash on the Mabanol Sliven Rally last month.