THREE RALLYS IN CYPRUS IN ONE WEEK
Last week I ventured to the capital again for a historic car rally. Sponsered by LucOil a Russian oil producer for its second year. The rally is meant to heal the ill feelings between the North and the South of Cyprus. It will take a lot more than an auto rally.
They had openings for 60 cars and it is run on both sides of the border. Just that point alone, 'both sides', I think kept the count down to less than 40. And most of the really nice historic cars didn't show. Afraid of going to the North in their pretty metal babies. There is supposed to be hundreds of (now) antique automobiles trapped in the buffer zone between the North and the South.
Since I have been here they have had the Cyprus Rally which was part of the World Rally run by the FIA. Those same people that bring you Formula One. Prior to that the Cyprus Rally for 30 years was a Class AA Rally also run by the FIA.
This year the World Rally was cancelled by the FIA and the Class AA was run in its place. The World Rally in the past also included the Class AA at the same time. The World drivers always liked coming here and I think it was over money that it was cancelled. No one has said, but it makes sense to me.
This rally was the Mid-East Championship Rally and was run along with historic rally cars older than 25 years. They didn't do much to advertize the fact that they were coming. I know a lot of people that are interested in these rallys and even they didn't know about it. The only way I found out was that two days before it started the Rally Press Office set up in the building I live and work in.
After it got started the first two sections were cancelled because (1) an FIA official was held hostage. Hostage!! Come on folks, its just a race. And (2) the second section had a tree dragged across the road. Maybe next year they won't have any rallys because the FIA doesn't take to kindly to being into world politics. They have enough of their own politics.
They had drivers from Jordan, Quatar, Lebanon, Dubai, France, England and Cyprus. The Rally was won by a Cypriot for the first time in 16 years. In a Mitsubishi Lancer, no less, the island's favorite car. It is hard to believe that all these Islamic drivers with their big broad smiles, firm handshakes, slaps on the back might take my life in another situation.
The historic rally was not interrupted because the sections were different and most of the drivers were Cypriot. Also won by a Cypriot driver and the most attractive co-driver in the race. Driving a Ford Escort...the European type.