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Seat León Cupra, Greece’s GTI Car of the Year July 1, 2007

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The Seat León continues chalking up success all over Europe, and especially in Greece, where it has just been awarded its third recognition, the GTI of the Year 2006-2007, this time for the León Cupra. 

Readers of the motoring magazine “4-Trohoi/4-Wheels” chose the León Cupra over 11 other rivals after a day of road testing at the Megara track. The Cupra was given 26% of the votes, ahead of the Renault Clio RS, with 20%; the Honda Civic Type R, with 14% and the VW Golf GTI Edition, with 13%.

Equipped with a 240 hp 2.0 TFSI engine, the León Cupra is Seat’s most powerful street model and its performance rivals that of any sports car, a top speed of 247 km/h and 0 to 100 km/h acceleration in only 6.4 seconds. The “GTI of the Year” award is in its third edition in Greece, a country where the Seat León has already won two previous distinctions.

Firstly, it got the highest score at the first edition of “Car of 2007” last December from a panel of 27 motoring press journalists Secondly, the Seat León also won the “Hellenic Car of the Year 2007″ award, also at its first edition last December. The winning votes were cast among the readership of the seven main Greek motoring magazines, 4Wheels, Drive, Car&Driver, Autocar, Evo, Car and TopGear.

Fourth round of Seat Rok Cup at Daytona Raceway June 14, 2007

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The 4th meeting of the Seat Rok Cup 2007 will be held this Sunday at the Daytona Raceway in Nicosia with the flag-off scheduled for 5pm.

The drivers will race in junior and senior categories, with the live transmission of events hosted by the Lumiere TV.

A new classic rally in Cyprus > the Aphrodite Classic June 4, 2007

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A new classic rally is organised by FIPA Cyprus on the weekend June 9-10, the Aphrodite Classic Rally, which is planned on international specifications and combines the touring together with the competitive spirit.

Entries close Monday but spectators can still book weekend hotel rooms and the dinner on Saturday evening at the Yachting Centre in Limassol.

The classic rally, sponsored by Ν.S.N. Optical Wholesales and Ferrari Sunglasses as well as CYTA, will start from the medieval castle in Limassol on Saturday, June 9, at 14:00hrs. The route with four special stages will go through the Troodos mountains to reach Aphrodite’s birthplace by the sea and return to Limassol for the evening, where crews and organisers will have the chance of a dinner with music and dance at the Yachting Centre. Sunday route with four more special stages will be towards Aphrodite’s temple at Kouklia, continue to Paphos, and return to Limassol and the Yachting Centre for lunch and the prize giving ceremony.

The secretariat and scrutineering will take place in Nicosia, Thursday, June 7, from 15:00 to 17:00hrs at the main offices of FIPA Cyprus, 8 Dositheos Street, Nicosia, and in Limassol on Friday, June 8, from 15:00 to 17:00hrs at the Tototheo Building, 89 Omonia Avenue.

For information and entry forms apply to FIPA Cyprus tel./fax: 22376785, email gensec@kak.org.cy, or through the website: http://www.fipa-cyprus.org.cy

Finnish driver Marcus Gronholm winner of the Acropolis Rally June 4, 2007

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marcus_gronholm_wins.jpg  Finnish driver Marcus Gronholm (right), winner of the Acropolis Rally yesterday, sprays champagne over his co-driver Timo Rautiainen (top center). The Finn, who won the race for the second straight year, covered the rally’s 23 special stages in 3 hours, 49 minutes and 22.6 seconds. French driver Sebastian Loeb (left) finished second while Norwegian Petter Solberg (front center) ended in third place. Gronholm’s victory was his third of the season and helped him extend his lead over Loeb in the world championship by two points.

Marcus Gronholm fends off challenge by world champion Sebastian Loeb for back-to-back victories at the Acropolis Rally. Marcus Gronholm held on to first place in the Acropolis Rally yesterday to win in Greece for the second year running and extend his lead in the world championship. The Finn, driving a Ford Focus, was pursued on the final day of the rally by world champion Sebastian Loeb but finished 38.6 seconds ahead of the Frenchman.

“I feel very good,” said Gronholm, who won five stages over the three days of rallying, one fewer than Loeb. “We didn’t have any problems this weekend. The rally was much better than last year. Now we have expanded our lead in the championship but there is still a long way to go,” added the Finn, who also won in Greece in 2006.

Norwegian Petter Solberg, driving for Subaru, finished in third place, 1.34.1 minutes behind Gronholm. The five final stages yesterday did not produce any changes at the top as Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen finished fourth after picking up his second stage win of the rally. He was followed by Henning Solberg in fifth and Australian Chris Atkinson in sixth.

Citroen’s Loeb, who won in Greece in 2005, started the day 43.3 seconds behind Gronholm but closed the gap by 6.1 seconds after winning yesterday’s first stage. The Finn struck back immediately to take the next stage, a 20-kilometer run in Avlona.

With victory in sight, the world championship leader admitted that he was just trying to “concentrate and keep safe” for the final three stages. The Finn capped off his victory by beating Loeb by 0.1 seconds in the final special stage of the rally at the Olympic equestrian center in Markopoulo. “I am not happy with second place but there is nothing we can do now,” said Loeb.

The world champion described the puncture he suffered in the demanding Aghioi Theodoroi stage on Saturday afternoon as a “bad moment” that put an end to his hopes of winning the Acropolis Rally. Gronholm’s victory in Greece was his third of the season and helped him extend his lead over Loeb in the world championship by two points. The Finn is on 65 points while the Frenchman is on 56. Ford also top the manufacturers’ standings with 114 points. Citroen are second on 86 points.

Acropolis Rally begins today May 31, 2007

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Championship leader Marcus Gronholm hopes for second successive Greek victory

marcus_gronholm.jpg  Gronholm, who won the last rally in Italy, holds a seven-point lead in the standings over world champion Sebastien Loeb.

Finland’s Marcus Gronholm is hoping that a second successive victory in the Acropolis Rally, which starts today, will put him firmly in control of this year’s world drivers’ championship. The 39-year-old Ford Focus driver, who won the last rally in Italy, goes into what is traditionally one of the toughest rallies on the circuit with a seven-point lead in the standings over world champion Frenchman Sebastien Loeb.

“Victory in Italy put me back into the lead of the championship,” the twice world champion told the Ford website. “The next two rallies give me the opportunity to build on that lead. The Acropolis is traditionally a strong event for Ford, while the first event after the summer break in Finland is my home event so I really want to capitalize on those.”

The rally opens today with a super special stage on gravel at a specially constructed track at the Olympic Equestrian Center in Markopoulo just outside Athens. After that the cars will be flying around the dusty roads of Attica.

“It’s a hard event for both drivers and cars,” noted Gronholm. “The weather during our test this week was cold, muddy and wet. It is forecast to turn warmer and drier in time for the rally but in the shaded areas where the surface is often clay-based, mud patches may remain. That will be strange for Greece. My confidence is good and I really want to take the fight to Loeb as I did in Italy.”

Loeb, who is looking for his fourth consecutive world title, has already won four rallies this season, in Monte Carlo, Mexico, Portugal and Argentina. But he needs to bounce back after putting his Citroen into a ditch on the last day of the Italy race in Sardinia.

A 1-2 result in Italy for Gronholm and Mikko Hirvonen means Ford goes into the race with a 21-point lead in the manufacturers’ championship it won in 2006. Hirvonen, winner of the rally in Norway, may be the one to challenge the big two. “If Marcus and Sebastien are battling for the lead, I want to be as close to them as possible,” he said.

54th BP Ultimate Acropolis Rally of Greece May 29, 2007

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Every round of the FIA World Rally Championship presents a tough challenge, however this weekend’s Acropolis Rally of Greece is one of the most difficult of them all.

Since the Safari Rally left the WRC calendar, Greece’s round has assumed the mantle of ‘the toughest rally’.

Durability is often just as important as outright performance. The ambient temperature, which can get as high as 40 degrees Celsius, puts driver fitness at a premium, while the rough conditions of the mountain roads are demanding on the machinery and the crews. The dust thrown up by other competing cars and rocks on the racing line are among the potential hazards, so the teams have to pay particular attention to under-car protection and engine cooling.

The risk of punctures on sharp rocks is also a major factor, and BFGoodrich will offer a super-tough tyre compound, introduced for the first time on the previous event in Sardinia, to suit the anticipated conditions. Furthermore with a nine-week break in the WRC year after this event, all of the drivers’ and teams’ heading to the Mediterranean will be keen to end the first half of the season on a high.

The Acropolis is one of the legendary events on the WRC calendar, albeit one that has experienced some major changes in a history that stretches back to the start of the World Rally Championship itself.

In 2005 there was a major change in the event’s format. The rally had been based in central Greece, around the town of Lamia, 200km north of Athens, but two years ago it shifted its base to the Athens Olympic Stadium complex. The move meant the rally organisers could incorporate some new special stages into the route, using some roads in the hills to the north and west of Greece’s capital city.

For 2007 the base of the rally has moved once again, this time to the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Markopoulo, 30km south of Athens, but some of last year’s special stages remain, mixed with a selection of roads that are new to the drivers.

Related Links > http://www.acropolisrally.gr/en/

Historic car rally ends in Cyprus May 29, 2007

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The 19th International Historic Car Rally, or the 2nd Historic Cyprus Rally, ended on Sunday evening with 52 old cars finishing the three-leg rally.

Trophies were given to the winners of categories according to the cars’ manufacture time. A 1957-made Wolseley, driven by Cypriot Katsioloudes Petros won the First Overall Trophy.

Participants from Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Sweden, Britain and the United States also joined local drivers in the regularity rally from May 25 to 27. The rally received a total of 72 entries of 31 makers. All the cars were manufactured before 1982, with the oldest Ford model A made in 1931. They rolled from Nicosia to coastal towns of Larnaca, Paphos and Limassol, covering 515 kilometers.

The rally, not a competition for speed but for precision, demanded participants drive under a certain average speed. Any late or early arrival at time control points, willful deviation from the route would lead to penalties or even disqualification.

The three-day event was organised by the Cyprus Automobile Association (CAA). It was included in the calendar of the International Federation of Ancient Vehicles (FIVA) and the International Automobile Federation (FIA).