Rallying has always been a sport characterized by passion for both competitors and spectators.
There are some motorsport love stories really intense and prize worthy, even if we are speaking about the famous Guinness Records. Such is the case of 3 members of the Yiangou family from Cyprus; all of them participate in the SEAJETS Acropolis Rally 2016. Those are Yiangos Yiangou, his wife Litsa Yiangou and their son Panayiotis Yiangou, who will drive two Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX and a Subaru Impreza, respectively. This is the very first time something like this happens in an international event, even though the Yiangou family have done this before on cypriot soil.
As the teams have already settled at Lamia, we met the family in the Service Park and had the chance of a brief discussion with all of them, who spoke to us about their entry, as well as their candidateship for the Guinness Records. This might happen because this is the first time that 1st degree relatives participate as drivers of 3 different cars in an international rally. Father Yiangos Yiangou stated: "We have all participated together in a cypriot rally, but the possibility of making our way to the Guinness Records had not crossed our minds, until a friend mentioned that our case is unique. That's why we applied, but as some time is required before this can be achieved, there is the possibility that we will not enter the Guinness Records for the SEAJETS Acropolis Rally. If it doesn't happen now, it will surely happen in the Rally of Cyprus, later this year". Yiangos Yiangou, 57, will share a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX with Pierris Chouridis. His career began in 1987 with Baja 4x4 events, and so far he has participated in numerous rallies: "My profession is related with cars, as I work in the field for 12 hours a day, and sometimes 7 days a week, if there is a rally during the weekend. My love for rallying was never really a choice, as motorsport could become my only hobby. I drove my first rally in 1987 and my most successful period was that of 2000-2010, when I never retired from a single event I took part in! Apart from this, I have participated in many international events, such as Rally Cyprus, Rally Jordan, Rally Syria, and now the Acropolis Rally. At Cyprus Rally 2001 we finished high in the classification in a Suzuki Swift GTi", Yiangos Yiangou commented.
The answer to the question about the most common discussion topic within the family was answered by Mrs Litsa Yiangou, who commented that due to her work being based at the same place as her husband's, motorsport and cars have always been the subject of family chat. Mrs Yiangou started her motorsport activities in 1999, with her son Panayiotis in the co-driver seat. Since then she has participated in numerous Autocross and Mini Rally events. About her rallying career, she said: "My love for motorsport surfaced when I met with Yiangos. We were watching rallies together as spectators, while helping our best man, who is the Suzuki brand dealer in Cyprus. We always loved rallying, so we decided to go for it". When asked about the feeling of agony about family members that participate in the same rally, combined to the pressure experienced by every driver, Mrs Litsa Yiangou answered: "For me it is double the pressure, as both my son and husband are also participating in the rally. I don't feel so much stress about myself, as I'm a more conservative driver and have done less rallies than they have. Because of their commitment to rallying, I also need to take care of running our business and raising our only grandchild, while we are expecting the second one. This is the reason why I cannot participate in rallies frequently, and SEAJETS Acropolis Rally 2016 is my first international event".
Panayiotis Yiangou, who will have Panayiotis Kyriakou as his co-driver, commented on this exact subject: "Of course there is stress, but this comes after the Special Stage has ended. When you are at the start of a Stage, you can't think of anything else, but when you reach the finish, you start to wonder if everything has gone well for father and mother". The love of Panayiotis Yiangou for rallying didn't come as a surprise while he was growing up, since both his parents were active competitors: "Being around rally cars since childhood, it is adjunct to follow your father's footsteps. At the age of 16 I started co-driving for my father, when he refused to let me participate in motorcycle racing and encouraged me to join him in rally racing. In 2000 I made my Baja debut and triumphed among 27 competitors". Panayiotis Yiangou is driving a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX for the last 5 years, his best results being a second place amongst local crews at the Cyprus Rally of 2013 as well as the 4th place in last year's Cypriot Rally Championship.
So, what is the target for 2016? "The target for 2016 is to finish as high as possible in the classification of the SEAJETS Acropolis Rally and, if possible, to finish inside the top 3 of the Cypriot Rally Championship", Panayiotis commented.
The Yiangou family case is unique, that is for sure. They demonstrate in the best possible way that, besides love, common sporting goals can unite a family in a way nobody could have imagined before!
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