European Rally Championship

PREVIEW: Lukyanuk and Sirmacis Set To Battle For ERC Runners Up Spot In Cyprus

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The 2016 FIA European Rally Championship concludes this weekend with the 2016 CNP ASFALISTIKI Cyprus Rally. The mixed surface event is set the challenge the crews and while the championship may be decided the battle for the runners up spot is still up for grabs.

Alexey Lukyanus and Ralfs Sirmacis are separated by just two points heading into the final round and with both having strong performances in the series this year they will want to end on a high.

The 2016 Cyprus Rally will be run as a mixed surface event and will have a 60-40 split of gravel and asphalt, and all but three of the 14 stages feature a combination of the two surfaces. The 4.48-kilometre Qualifying Stage takes place on Friday morning with the ceremonial start taking place that evening in the southern city of Limassol, before the crews take on the rally’s first two stages in darkness on their way back to the host city of Nicosia.

Saturday features eight stages, the last of which is a superspecial stage through the streets of the capital. Sunday begins with repeats of the two Friday night tests prior to the two parts of the Love Cyprus Golden Stage.

Ralf Sirmacis won Rally Liepāja last time out - Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

Ralf Sirmacis won Rally Liepāja last time out – Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

Lukyanuk goes in search of his second win of the season, his first being the season opening round on Gran Canaria. He is back in a Ford Fiesta R5  after tackling the last round in a Mitsubishi Evolution X. Sirmacis is the breakthrough story of the year. After taking runners up spot in the ERC Junior championship last year the Latvian driver has proved his pace and consistency this year by winning three times this season and the Skoda Fabis R5 driver will be looking to make it four in Cyprus.

Eyes will also by on Marijan Griebel, the newly crowed ERC Junior champion is set to get his first competitive experience in an R5 machine. He comes from a tarmac background but has proven himself on gravel this year also. He will need to put all his expertise together on this mixed surface event as he tackles it in a Fabia R5.

Nikolay Gryazin also makes the step up to R5 for the final round but unlike his German rival has experience at the top end of the championship taking sixth in a Fabia R5 in Switzerland last year. It will be an interesting battle between these two young stars. David Botka will be hoping to end a challenging first season in R5 on a high as Lambros Athanassoulas returns to the championship for the final round.

Wojciech Chuchala  - Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

Wojciech Chuchala – Credit: Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

With Wojciech Chuchała having already secured the ERC2 title, the category win in Cyprus will be fought exclusively between local Mitsubishi drivers with Christos Demosthenous likely to be the favourite. Murat Bostanci is aiming for his second class win of the year in ERC3 with his co-driver Onur Vatansever aiming to secure the co-drivers’ championship crown.

The event kicks off with the qualifying stage on Friday morning.

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Guest Contributor here at The Checkered Flag who will be predominantly covering the 2015 European Rally Championship I also cover the World Rally Championship on occasion. Can be found on Twitter at @matthewmcmahon5
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