Rawahi gains good experience at Cyprus Rally

Rallying as a sport has produced some of Oman's biggest stars like Hamed al Wahaibi in the late nineties. Among other big names to have done the sultanate proud was Nizar al Shanfari. Since their exits from competitive rallying there has hardly been any Omani who has made a name in the Middle Eastern circuit.

Abdullah al Rawahi, a 21 year old, is the latest rally driver from Oman, who has decided to make an earnest attempt to make a mark in rallying and his latest performance at the world-famous Cyprus Rally recently is sure to give him a boost ahead of other rallies this season.Taking part in the Cyprus Rally, which witnessed a total of 51 drivers from across the world compete in three championships, Rawahi, in only his second rally of his career, came up with encouraging results.The Cyprus Rally 2018 is part of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) and also serves as one of the rounds of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) and a local championship. The 47th edition of the rally was competed on both gravel and asphalt stages.

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Rawahi and his co-driver Allan Harryman came up with steady display to finish a creditable seventh in MERC R2-specification Group N among 13 drivers with a time of 2:20:16.3 in their Subaru Impreza STi N14 while the group was won by Savvas Savva and Andreas Papandreou in Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX in 2:03:15.3. The overall winner of the rally was Simos Galatariotis and Antonis Ioannou in Skoda Favia R5 in 1:55:40.2.Rawahi and Harryman were placed 31st while 2017 edition Nasser al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel were fourth among the 46 drivers that completed the rally. In the general MERC category, Rawahi was placed 12th among 20 drivers.Rawahi finished the stage one of the first leg at 47th but  went up to 36th in SS4 before ending on 37th after SS 6.In the second-leg, the 21 year old and his experienced co-driver displayed better understanding and completed the leg comprising six stages at 31st place in a rally that was run over a total of 205.41km.Galatariotis scored a dramatic last-gasp victory over Bruno Magalhães by 0.6s in the rally.Home favourite Galatariotis captured a first win for a Cypriot driver in ten years despite carrying a front-right puncture to the finish line of the closing ENEOS Golden Stage.Attiyah had stormed into first place on the penultimate stage, taking 20.6s out of Galatariotis to gain a 2.3s lead with one stage remaining.However,  Attiyah was forced to stop and change a puncture close to the finish of the Cyprus Rally’s final test. Magalhães overtook Attiyah in stage moments before the finish line to snatch second place. Speaking after the conclusion of the rally, Rawahi said, “I took time to get used to the car and the early stages with my new co-driver. After three stages, I came back to finish the first-leg comprising six stages though we had a slight contact that led to a penalty for the next leg.“On the next day, it was quite challenging with difficult stages. My aim was clear to complete the rally and gain maximum experience on my debut in Cyprus. Overall, it was a satisfying experience with a seventh place finish in Group N of MERC.”He added, “My aim was to learn maximum and finish the rally. I am happy with my stint i and will take a lot of positives ahead of the Lebanon Rally next month. I would like to thank my co-driver Allan [Harryman] and also thank Khalid al Zubair, the Oman Olympic Committee chief and Sheikh Nizar al Shanfari for their strong support.” 

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