Nicosia, November 05 (QNA) – Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah and co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini steered their Ford Fiesta RRC to a memorable 3 minute 35.3 second victory over closest rival Andreas Mikkelsen of Norway to win the Cyprus Rally.
The Qatari ace had won the top podium position in the 2010 edition of Cyprus Rally.
Despite the loss Mikkelsen will still be crowned the 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) champion. He becomes the first driver to defend an IRC title.
The final round of the 2012 IRC and the penultimate round of this year’s FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), this year’s Cyprus Rally has been riveting with Mikkelsen returning with fastest stage times, including taking the early event lead on Friday night in his Skoda Fabia S2000, winning the thrilling Super Special Stage in downtown Pafos that flagged off the event.
The plot changed Saturday morning when a punctured tyre slowed Mikkelsen at the first stage of the day and allowed London 2012 Olympic medallist Al Attiyah to charge to the head of the field in his Ford.
Although Mikkelsen kept a blistering pace through the rest of the day, it wasn t enough to catch up with al-Attiyah who clocked a one minute 30.2 seconds overnight lead.
Mikkelsen was second and Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al Kuwari third in his MINI JCW. Al Kuwari had crashed out in his MINI in Sunday’s first stage.
Al Attiyah’s win here this weekend puts him at the head of the MERC leadership board (with 68 points) with just one event to go in Dubai, later this month. (QNA)