With the championship still wide open after four rounds, Shaikh Khalid, who will be behind the wheel of a Citroën DS3 RRC, is hoping to take home the maximum points. The Abu Dhabi Racing driver currently has 51 points and victory in Nicosia will set up a close title fight when the regional series comes to Dubai for the final round in November.
The Cyprus round, incidentally, is also a round of the FIA European Rally Championship.
In Nicosia, competitors will tackle a mixed surface comprising of asphalt and gravel over 15 special stages, which means tyre choices and preservation will be very important towards the outcome of the race.
“There is no doubt that Cyprus Rally will be a special kind of challenge for several reasons. One, the stages are mixed between gravel and asphalt, which will put pressure on the tyres and accelerate erosion.
“However, a driver’s and his team’s experience will play a large role in these conditions. Under the circumstances, a successful strategy will be one of the keys to success in this rally,” Al Qasimi said.
Moreover, competitors this year will be fighting for points in both the MERC and the ERC, and the UAE driver explained: “Competition in this rally will be huge, especially as points are up for grabs in two championships. ERC drivers will go all out as will the MERC drivers, who will go flat out to secure the top spots.”
The rally kicks off this weekend with a Super Special Stage (Friday, September 19), followed by eight special stages on day two comprising of 138.38 kilometres with the first car starting at 9:20 Nicosia time. The rally concludes on Sunday, September 21 with six special stages (93.64km).
The total competitive length of the rally is 232km