Petros Panteli / Pampos Laos finished in second place with a Citroen DS3 overtaking Al Rawahi / Al Hmoud (Ford Fiesta) in the last stage and relegating them to third place. Fourth position went to Yiangou / Englezou with a Hyundai i20.
The finish ceremony and the awards presentations took place in Eleftheria square, in the centre of Nicosia, on Sunday afternoon.
In the MERC 2 category, an exciting battle took place, with Christodoulou / Xenophontos prevailing, with a Subaru Impreza. They managed to surpass Antoniou / Pieris (Mitsubishi Lancer) in the afternoon stages, after initially dropping from first earlier in the morning. At the end, Antoniou / Pieris had to settle with third place, with Savva / Papandreou (Mitsubishi Lancer) managing to claim second in the end. In the 2WD category, Televantos / Stavrou with a Peugeot 208 comfortably prevailed.
The 49th International Cyprus Rally was organized by the Cyprus Automobile Association. It was the 4th round of the Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) and the 4th and 5th round of the Pancyprian Championship. The rally covered a total of 665.74km of which 180.92km comprised the 12 gravel stages, one of which was cancelled due to the Al Attiyah accident.
The story of the rally
On Sunday (26/9) Tsouloftas moved quickly despite starting the day with a safety difference of 4 minutes and 45 seconds ahead of Al Rawahi. And yet, on Saturday afternoon (25/9) nothing prejudged this development, since Galatariotis, Tsouloftas and Al Attiyah were fighting shoulder to shoulder until the fifth special stage. By that point Galatariotis had won four stages and was 26.9 seconds ahead of Tsouloftas with Al Attiyah in third, 45 seconds behind, having won one stage.
Towards the end of the sixth stage Al Attiyah went off the road, causing a bush fire, which forced the fire brigade to intervene, something that led to the cancellation of the stage. The fire destroyed the Qatari’s car, thus knocking him out of the rally.
Later in the day, Galatariotis was sentenced to a one-minute penalty by the stewards as he deviated twice from the course, sending him to second place, now 33 seconds behind new leader Tsouloftas. The winners of 2018 then decided to retire, paving the way for Tsouloftas.
It is worth noting that Tsouloftas had shown unparalleled speed in last year's Cyprus Rally, as he had won five of the ten special stages. He ultimately did not finish in a high placing, due to car troubles.
22 crews finished
Of the 31 crews that started the rally -in the end Filippou / S. Laos did not start after failing to pass the additional technical inspection requested- 28 of them returned on Sunday morning (26/9). Al Attiyah / Baumel and Denktas / Mison retired, while Galatariotis / Ioannou withdrew. The following, although they did not complete the first leg, started the second leg under SupeRally: Michaelides / L. Laos, Al Wahaibi / Sircombe, Zenonos / Christofi, Dimosthenous / Pavlou, Christodoulou / Nestoros, Ellinas / Pouyioukkas, Aref / Jan Khout, Ch. Panteli / I. Pieri, Lavrentiev / Szechenyi and Morozov / Morozova.
Only 22 eventually reached the finish line.
This year's event was sponsored by Cablenet, ENEOS Motor Oil lubricants of Psaltis Auto Parts, Honda Galatariotis, ANCO Catering Equipment, Prodata and Farmakas Water. It was supported by the Municipalities of Nicosia and Aglantzia as well as the Cyprus Police.