The Cyprus Rally 2021 is taking place 24-26 September
The 49th International Cyprus Rally will be held between September 24-26, 2021, as the fourth round of the Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) and the 4th and 5th rounds of the Cyprus Rally Championship 2021. The rally is organized by the Cyprus Automobile Association, and will be hosted in the capital Nicosia, where the Service Park, the Headquarters and the Press Center will be located. The start and finish ceremonies will take place in the heart of the city!
This year's innovation is the return to entirely gravel special stages, following years of a mixed surface race. The action will unfold on the outskirts of Nicosia and in the semi-mountainous region of the Nicosia District, mostly on classic special stages of the Cyprus Rally. The start ceremony will take place on Friday, September 24, while the racing action will take place on the weekend of September 25 and 26.
The FIA Middle East Rally Championship
Clerk of the Course, Ms Nayia Kontopoulou, spoke of the challenges arising for the inclusion of the Cyprus Rally in the 2021 FIA Middle East Rally Championship calendar: “COVID-19 has brought many challenges in transportation; however, the Cyprus Automobile Association is once again able to host on our island an event of the Middle East Rally Championship, with our national race and one of the most important rallies in the world, being the fourth round of the season”. Mr Kontopoulou added: “For this year our rally could not be included in the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) as the calendar due to the pandemic has been shrunk and will not last more than five months”.
This year's FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) includes six rallies, with the first two, Qatar Rally and Jordan Rally having been won by the 16-time Middle East champion Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-pilot Frenchman Mathieu Baumel with a Volkswagen Polo R5. The driver from Qatar has won the 2019 and 2020 events of the Cyprus Rally, giving him a total of seven victories in the event.
The participants in the MERC will race in the Lebanon Rally, in early September, before making the short trip over to Cyprus.
Strong local interest
Regarding the Cyprus Rally Championship 2021, each day of the Cyprus Rally will count as a separate event. Three rounds of the national championship have already been held, while after the Cyprus Rally two more will follow. Last year's champion Simos Galatariotis, winner of the 2018 Cyprus Rally, leads the ranking with 112 points, ahead of Alexandros Tsouloftas who has 72 points and Stavros Antoniou (56p). Galatariotis has won the Rally Tour of Cyprus and the Rally Eastern Safari while Tsouloftas prevailed at the Rally Acropolis Larnaca.
Both Tsouloftas and Galatariotis are also competing this year in the gravel surface Panhellenic Rally Championship with Tsouloftas earning two wins in the two first races of the season (Rally of Fthiotidos, Rally of Corinthos) and Galatariotis two second places in the same events.