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There was a thrilling finish to the mixed surfaced Cyprus Rally which counted for the FIA European Rally Championship, as well as the Middle East Rally Championship. Four different drivers took turns in the lead, the battle finally decided by a series of punctures at the end. For the first time in 10 years the winner was a Cypriot driver, Simos Galatariotis (Fabia R5), pictured above, who survived a last-stage puncture but overhauled the leader, Nasser Attiyah, who was forced to change a slow puncture and fell back to fourth. Galatariotis eventually won by 0.6 seconds from Bruno Magalhaes.

Nasser Al Attiyah suffered some major tyre troubles ....

Early leader was Alexey Lukyanuk, who collided with a barrier and retired, followed by Al Attiyah who then had tyre problems, firstly with a delaminated tyre and then a puncture, which forced him to finish the stage on a rim. Having only one spare he was only able to reach service by re-using the delaminated tyre.

Juuso Nordgren retired after colliding with a spectator's car.

Leading the rally now was Skoda trainee driver, Juuso Nordgren, but who dropped to fourth with a puncture and whom then collided with a spectator’s car and retired. At this point Galatariotis held the lead, but Al Attiyah passed him on the penultimate stage, only to regain it on the last stage. Petros Panteli (Evo X) won the ERC2 category and Laurent Pellier (Peugeot 208) the ERC3. Bruno Magalhaes leads the ERC championship, while Attiyah leads the MERC.

Bruno Magalhaes finished second in Cyprus.

= = = = Happy Birthday Thierry! Congratulations. The World Rally Championship leader Thierry Neuville celebrated his 30h birthday on Saturday 16th June. = = = = Kalle Rovanpera (below centre) has been flying even higher recently. He and Formula One driver, Valtteri Bottas, were invited by the Finnish Air Force to savour the delights of going even faster than usual, as passengers in a Hawk jet trainer. = = = = There was a close battle for the lead in the fourth round the German championship, Rallye Stemweder Berg. It was between the Skoda drivers Dominik Dinkel and Christian Riedemann, and ended on the final stage when the leader, Dinkel, slid off the road and was stuck in a ditch. Second was the Peugeot 208 T16 of Marijan Griebel. = = = = The Agrotec Petronas Rally Hustopece, a championship round of both Czech Republic and Slovakia, was won by Jan Kopecky, a minute in front of the Slovakian Martin Koci. It was Kopecky’s 21st successive Czech championship victory, unbeaten at home since Cesky Krumlov Rally in 2014! Unfortunately Jan Dohnal’s ex-Hirvonen, Latvala and Mikkelsen 2006 Ford Escort WRC was completely destroyed on this event by fire. = = = = The top four, and seven out of eight finishers, were Skodas in the fifth round of the Finnish championship, Pohjanmaa Rally, headed by Teemu Asunmaa. The rally was shortened after a sad fatal accident involving a lady spectator. In nearby Norway the Aurskog Høland Rally, fifth round of their series, saw a Fiesta R5 one-two led by Frank Tore Larsen, ahead of Anders Grondal.
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