(MENAFN- The Peninsula)
Nicosia: Nasser Al Attiyah and co-driver Matthieu Baumel are out of the Cyprus Rally after their Volkswagen Polo GTi went off-road at the end of the sixth and final stage yesterday.
The incident caused a bush fire and the stage had be cancelled.
The timely and effective intervention of the security and firefighting teams of the organisers, the Department of Forests and the Fire Service prevented the spread of the bush fire.
Al Attiyah and Baumel were in good health but the damage to the car was severe and they could not continue the rally.
Meanwhile, Qatar's Nasser Khalifa Al Atya and co-driver Ata Al Hmoud achieved the 15th position driving Ford Fiesta R5 in the rally -- which is the fourth round of Middle East Rally Championship. Nasser Saadon Al Kuwari and the Kuwaiti driver Meshari Althefiri finished 3rd in the MERC2 category.
Local favourites Alexandros Tsouloftas and Stelios Elia lead the rally after five stages with their countrymen Simos Galatariotis and Antonis Ioannou in second.
Galatariotis and Ioannou won four of the five special stages yesterday but were handed a one-minute penalty, which demoted them to second place.
Omani rallying legend Hamed Al Wahaibi impressed on his return to international competition at the Nicosia-based Cyprus Rallyas he set a fifth and a fourth quickest time on the opening two special stages before a setback cost him his place in the top five on SS3.
Hamed Al Wahaibi, Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and Abdullah Al Rawahi at the end of the day's action.
The 53-year-old and co-driver Tony Sircombe were revelling in their return to the stages as a partnership that thrived 20 years ago in the FIA World Rally Championship.
Despite the setback on stage three, the team will restart under Rally 2 regulations today and hope to complete the Cyprus round of the regional rally series.
Al Rawahi from Oman climbed into third place together with co-driver Al Hamoud (Jordan) in a Ford Fiesta, 5:15.2. behind Tsouloftas / Elia.
Half a minute behind them are Petros Pantelis / Pampos Laos (Ford Fiesta). Leading in MERC 2 are Christodoulou with co-driver Xenophontos and a Subaru Impreza WRX while in the two-wheeled (2WD) category Televantos / Stavrou are ahead with a Peugeot 208.
Demosthenous / Pavlou (Skoda Fabia) who were having a good rally and were in fourth position of the overall classification, had an exit in SS5 and retired.
All will be determined today with six special stages on the schedule, three in the morning and three in the noon, with a total distance of 85.98km.
The rally ends at 18:00hrs at Eleftheria Square, in the courtyard of the Old City Hall.
1. Tsouloftas/Elia (Volkswagen Polo GTi)
2. Galatariotis/Loannou (Volkswagen Polo GTi) + 33.1
3. Al Rawahi/Hmoud (Ford Fiesta) +5:26.9
4. P. Panteli/P. Laos (Citroen DS3) +5:54.3
5. Yiangou/Englezou (Hyundai i20) 6:04.5
6. Christodoulou/Xenophontos (Subaru Impreza WRX) +7:37.1
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