Andreas Mikkelsen has vowed to go on "maximum attack" when he contests the inaugural Love Cyprus Golden Stage Rally on Sunday 7 November.
The event, which takes place the day following the FxPro Cyprus Rally, the 12th and final round of the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge from 4-6 November, features a mixed-surface, 25-kilometre stage run twice. In addition to live television coverage on Eurosport and Cypriot channel Lumiere TV, the contest will carry a combined prize fund of 150,000 Euros.
"It’s great to have a stage like that," said Mikkelsen, who will drive an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000. "All the drivers will go maximum attack on this stage so to be a spectator there will be incredible."
Mikkelsen, a 21-year-old from Norway, will arrive in Cyprus on the back of his heroic run to second overall on RACMSA Rally of Scotland earlier this month, his best result in the IRC to date.
He said: "The stages in Cyprus are difficult and very twisty but I think we can get a strong result. Certainly it’s our aim to go very good there and hopefully finish the season with a podium. We’ve made lots of improvements over the year and I am sure we can get a strong result."
Wittmann excited by Limassol superspecial
Franz Wittmann says the Lemesos Super Special Stage, which will be used twice on the FxPro Cyprus Rally, the final round of the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge, will provide plenty of drama and must be treated with the utmost respect by the competitors.
Wittmann, who turned 27 yesterday (Wednesday), will take part on the event in his Interwetten Racing Peugeot 207 Super 2000 alongside regular co-driver Klaus Wicha.
Using an all-asphalt, 2.45-kilometre course in Limassol’s port area, the fan-friendly stage will be run immediately following the ceremonial start on the night of Thursday 4 November and on the evening of Friday 5 November. The stage incorporates a cross-over point and drivers will tackle the test in pairs.
"These kinds of stages are great for the fans because they can get really close to the action and you always have plenty of drama and get really sideways," said the Austrian ace. "Although it’s a short stage in comparison to some of the gravel stages on the rally, you can’t win the rally on it but it’s very easy to lose the rally and all the drivers need to be aware of that."
Wittmann will be one of several IRC regulars set to tackle the all-new Lemesos Super Special Stage, which is being organised by IS Focus in cooperation with Limassol Municipality and the Port Authority. Other drivers include Brazil’s Daniel Oliveira and Burcu Cetinkaya, from Turkey.
Thomas heads all-Cypriot rally team
An all-Cypriot team will contest the finale to the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge season, next week’s FxPro Cyprus Rally.
Featuring drivers Nicos Thomas, Constantinos Tingirides, the current Cypriot rally champion, Charalambos Timotheou and Panicos Polycarpou, the squad will be entered under the Petrolina banner.
Thomas, ranked as one of Cyprus‘ leading rally drivers, is the best-placed of the quartet to land a strong result on the mixed-surface event after he achieved his long-held aim of securing the use of a Super 2000 car for his home rally.
The Peugeot 207 he will pilot will be run by the Italian Munaretto squad. The other three drivers will compete in Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancers.
Twenty-three-year-old Thomas is better known for his exploits in conventional turbocharged Group N machinery and his transition to a normally-aspirated S2000 car will be keenly anticipated, not least by the thousands of local fans lining the route.
In excess of 40 crews will contest the Cyprus Rally, which joins the IRC schedule for the first time this season and will receive four hours of live coverage on Eurosport and Cypriot channel Lumiere TV.
IRC titles up for grabs in Cyprus
While the outcome of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge drivers‘ and manufacturers‘ titles has been settled in favour of Juho Hanninen and Skoda respectively, the battle for the IRC 2WD Cup will go down to the wire on the FxPro Cyprus Rally, which takes place on the Mediterranean island from 4-6 November.
Double event winners Kevin Abbring and Rafael Tulio jointly top the IRC 2WD Cup drivers‘ standings with Harry Hunt on 20 points apiece. However, with only Hunt set to contest the mixed-surface event in his I Cars Motorsport M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2, the title will be Hunt’s providing he can score a points‘ finish to move above his rivals.
If Hunt does prevail and follows in the footsteps of 2009 class champion Denis Millet, he will have to wait until he receives his trophy. It is due to be presented at the end-of-season awards, which will take place at Le Meridien Limassol Spa and Resort on the evening of Sunday 7 November. However, Hunt is flying back to his native United Kingdom following the finish to prepare for another rally taking place the following weekend.
Hungarian Honda Civic drivers Janos Puskadi and Laszlo Vizin will provide Hunt with his main opposition in Cyprus but are not in contention for the IRC 2WD Cup title.