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Attiyah takes huge lead towards 16th MERC title as others battle to survive

Attiyah takes huge lead towards 16th MERC title as others battle to survive

Agencies
Nicosia
The first leg of the Cyprus Rally 2020 that took place on Saturday turned into a survival fight. There were a lot of retirements and the problems even more with Nasser Al
Attiyah ending the day with
a huge lead of 12 minutes and 29 seconds.
Attiyah and his co-driver Baumel’s lead is such that it allows them to conservatively drive the Volkswagen Poo R5 on Sunday to reach a back-to-back victory in the Cyprus Rally, which for the Arab driver will be the seventh of his career in the Cyprus Rally and will embrace him with his 16th Middle East Rally Championship.
The duo of Savvas Savva and Andrea Papandreou returned second to the Nicosia Service Park in the afternoon driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.
Third overall is the Pancyprian Championship Panagiotis Yiangou/Panagiotis Kyriakou (Hyundai i20).
In the 2WD category, Televantos/Stavrou are leading with a Peugeot 208 R2, just 21.4 seconds ahead of Chr. Panteli/Theofanous (Ford Fiesta).
Attiyah won three stages, Tsouloftas two while on one stage they shared the first place.
On Saturday, the crews covered 313.84km of which 105.8km were special stages. The day was completed by 13 out of the 21 crews who had started in the morning.
The Cyprus Rally ends on Sunday with four special stages and the Eneos Super Special Stage at the Achna speedway at 14:26.
On the second and last day, those who retired on the opening day are entitled to return in the 5th round of the Pancyprian Championship, accepting the prescribed penalty (the time of the first of their class plus 10 minutes per stage they did not complete).
Evolution of the struggle
Alexandros Tsouloftas was amazing in the morning special stages and during the first two he built a 10.9 second lead by Attiyah who was running first, whipping the dust. In the third stage the two achieved exactly the same time (15:47.9) something extremely rare in rally racing.
In the first noon stage, Tsouloftas/Elias had a problem with the right rear axle of the Volkswagen Polo and fell second.
Unfortunately they had to retired taking the road that Galatariotis/Loannou (Volkswagen Polo) had taken since the morning due to exit, Timotheou/Chrysostomou (Skoda Fabia) due to overheating, Zenonos/Christofi (Citroen DS3) after exit, Chilimintris / Laos (exit) and Polykarpou / Sialos (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX).
The was retirement also for Pantelis/Christodoulou (Citroen DS3) during SS4.
Thus, Yiangou/Kyriakou were second, but they faced power steering problems in the last stage of the day, falling third behind Savvas/Papandreou.
In the fourth place are Demosthenous and Pavlou (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) and in fifth place Rousos/Giannakou (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X). These four Cypriot crews are 65 seconds apart, which foretells big battles on Sunday.

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