Simos Galatariotis scored a dramatic last-gasp FIA European Rally Championship victory on the Cyprus Rally, as both he and late leader Nasser Al-Attiyah picked up final stage punctures.
Home favourite Galatariotis captured a first win for a Cypriot driver on Cyprus Rally in 10 years despite carrying a front right puncture to the finish line of the ENEOS Golden Stage.
Al-Attiyah had stormed into first place in the penultimate stage of Leg Two, taking 20.6s out of Galatariotis to gain a 2.3s lead with one stage remaining.
However, Al-Attiyah was forced to stop and change a puncture close to the finish of the Cyprus Rally’s final test, his attempts to continue with a deflating tyre for several kilometres ultimately in vain.
SEAJETS-backed Bruno Magalhães overtook Al-Attiyah in-stage moments before the finish line to snatch second place and a points lead in the ERC championship standings.
His weekend-long approach of being sensible and avoid rocks at all costs paid dividends, ensuring another top result after his win on EKO Acropolis Rally two weeks ago.
Norbert Herczig was promoted to a surprise second consecutive podium finish by Al-Attiyah’s stoppage, finishing 1m21.4s behind Galatariotis aboard his MOL Racing Team ŠKODA Fabia R5.
Al-Attiyah settled for fourth place after his late tyre change, while fifth went to Toksport WRT’s Orhan Avcioğlu, his first ERC top five finish.
Vojtéch Štajf turned the tables on Dávid Botka, whom he narrowly lost the ERC2 category title to back in 2015. ACCR Czech Team driver Štajf edged out his Sysinfo Rallye Team rival for sixth place by 13.4s, while behind both Albert von Thurn und Taxis scored his first ERC points finish of 2018 in eighth.
Petros Panteli sealed a first ERC2 production class win for Q8 Oils Rally Team along with ninth place overall, ahead of a rapidly recovering Alexandros Tsouloftas in P10. It was an astounding day’s work from Tsouloftas, going fastest across Leg Two’s five stages to score seven bonus points and also win the Golden Stage cash prize.
ERC Junior Under 28 regular Laurent Pellier also secured victory in his ERC3 category cameo.