AMONG the tangle of events which intertwine to form the European Rally Championship it is often difficult to make comparisons. Each qualifier is given a coefficient, between one and four, by which points scores are multiplied, and it was the intention that this figure should reflect the quality of the event. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. FISA’s inspectorate system leaves much to be desired and there are rallies with coefficients Inner than they deserve, and some higher, of course.
The Circuit of Ireland, for instance, deserves a higher figure than its present two, whereas many consider that coefficient four is inappropriate for the Tour de France. There are several such anomalies, just as there are instances of coefficient allocation which is highly appropriate.
One of these is the Rothmans Cyprus Rail, now standing at coefficient four, although in many respects this fine rally could easily match World Championship qualifiers.
In its three days this event takes in rough, dusty special stages from the coastal areas of the South and West to the high Troodos Mountains, but never venturing beyond easy striking distance of its base at Nicosia. Road sections are now more relaxed than they used to be, but stage distance has been increased to compensate for this, all so tough that its finishing rate is more like that of a much longer endurance event than that of a special stage rally.
Coupled with all this is a friendly, helpful bunch of organisers who go out of their way to make visitors feel at home, and even provide generous financial help and other concessions for visiting private entrants. The whole route is linked by an excellent VHF radio network, based on automatic repeaters on mountain tops, similar to that which was installed in Kenya this year for the Safari, and never do the Nicosia-based organisers lose touch with what is going on out in the field.
The rally will start at Nicosia at 18.00 on Friday. September 24, and finish there on the Sunday evening. The 1,300 km. route will have 37 special stages totalling 720 km., a half-way stop at Platres in the Troodos Mountains and shorter stops at Paphos and Limassol.
An entry forecast predicts 40 entries from Cyprus and some 35 from other countries, which says much for the high regard in which this rally is held. More information is available from the Cyprus AA, PO Box 2279, Nicosia, Cyprus (tel: 21-52521).