IRC - Titles up for grabs in IRC season finale

The Intercontinental Rally Challenge season reaches its climax in Cyprus with a star-studded line-up of crews tackling the Mediterranean island’s demanding mixed-surface stages.

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Andreas Mikkelsen

With 70 per cent of the timed runs on gravel and 30 per cent on asphalt and some stages featuring a combination of both surfaces, driver skill is put to the ultimate test as competitors grapple with compromised levels of handling and grip through the Troodos mountains and surrounding countryside.

Based in Pafos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the south-west of the island, the Cyprus Rally first ran in 1970 and its list of illustrious winners includes Stig Blomqvist, Sébastien Loeb, Colin McRae, Ari Vatanen and Björn Wåldegard. Since its inclusion on the IRC calendar for the first time in 2010, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Andreas Mikkelsen have both enjoyed outright success.

They will be in action this year with Mikkelsen, the defending IRC champion, starting the event with an unassailable points advantage at the top of the standings in his ŠKODA UK Motorsport Fabia Super 2000. The Norwegian, 23, is planning the ultimate victory parade during the two days of competition by chasing a third victory of 2012 alongside co-driver Ola Fløene to seal his second IRC title in style.

However, it’s not just the main IRC drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles that will be settled in Cyprus: the IRC Production Cup and IRC 2WD Cup crowns are both up for grabs with several drivers in contention in the two hotly-contested support categories.

This year’s Cyprus Rally begins with a ceremonial start on the evening of Friday 2 November followed by the 3.20-kilometre Super Special Stage through the streets of Pafos from 19:00hrs local time. Six stages take place on Saturday 3 November over a competitive distance of 100.32 kilometres, with a further six stages running on Sunday 4 November with 133.62 kilometres timed. The finish will take place in Pafos at 16:56hrs local time on Sunday.

As well as counting as the 13th and final round of the 2012 IRC season, the Cyprus Rally is also the penultimate event of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship schedule.

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