Rally Turkey got underway this evening with a super special stage on the streets of Marmaris ahead of three days on rough and rocky gravel roads in the surrounding mountains. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team drivers Kris Meeke, Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala all safely completed the first stage, following this morning’s pre-event shakedown when Meeke posted the quickest time.
Shakedown was held over a 4.7-kilometre course close to the service park, representative of the type of gravel stages to come over the weekend. That allowed the Toyota Yaris WRC drivers to make any necessary adjustments to the setups developed in the recent pre-event testing in Greece. While fast times were not a priority, Meeke was quickest of all by one second, with Tänak fourth and Latvala seventh.
The start of the rally and the opening stage took place around the marina area in Marmaris in front of enthusiastic crowds. Meeke was the fastest of the Toyota drivers in fifth with Tänak seventh and Latvala ninth: all three are within five seconds of the rally lead.
Tom Fowler (Technical Director)
“In shakedown, we did a little bit of fine-tuning to the setups between the first and second pass, just to give the drivers the best feeling in both types of road conditions. As the stage was so rough, we didn’t want to do too many runs or risk doing any significant damage. Tyre strategies were also coming into play among the teams, so we can’t read much into the times. When we won here in Turkey last year, it was more down to strength and reliability than outright performance. Coming back to this event for the second time, everyone understands how rough it is and may have made changes to improve, and so we felt that we needed to come with more performance than last year. We’ve been trying a new damper in many tests this year, and having seen the performance from that on rough gravel recently, we felt the time was right to introduce it onto the cars here in Turkey.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“The first stage tonight was good fun with a lot of donuts, but the rest of the weekend will be the roughest event of the season. When we did shakedown this morning, we saw how hard it can get. It will be really demanding, just like last year. This time we know what to expect a little bit, but it will still be tough, and the most important thing is to come through without any issues. It needs a lot of focus from the drivers as well as good reliability from the car. We don’t want to take too many risks but we want to be fast: we will try to be on the limit and not over it.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“The marina in Marmaris was a nice location to start the rally tonight, and it was good to put on a show for the people. Tomorrow we will see the real nature of Rally Turkey. The shakedown stage was very rough, which made it good preparation for the rest of the rally. After the first run, we made some changes to the setup around the suspension and I got a better feeling with the car. The time wasn’t the fastest but I wanted to be cautious and to try to find the right kind of speed so that we avoid problems in the rally. Of course, I will drive fast but it won’t be full attack mode: it’s a speed where I can react if there’s a big rock in the road, brought up by the cars in front of us. Hopefully that will pay off at the end.”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“There’s a lot of tourists in Marmaris and it’s good to see them supporting us in the first stage tonight. It was quite a simple stage, and the proper action starts tomorrow morning. It was really rough in shakedown. We knew that piece of road breaks up quite a lot and it was hellishly rough towards the end. It’s tough but we’re prepared for that. I just hope that dust is not a problem early in the morning, so we can have a clean run and at least see the big rocks in front of us. It’s going to be the toughest challenge of the year for the cars, and for the crews as well with the temperatures. The key is trying to find that rhythm: a compromise between speed and preserving the car.”
END OF DAY ONE (THURSDAY):
1 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 2m02.6s
2 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.0s
3 Pontus Tidemand/Ola Fløene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1.6s
4 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1.7s
5 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.0s
6 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +3.9s
7 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4.2s
8 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Škoda Fabia R5 Evo) +4.3s
9 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4.6s
10 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +4.9s
(Results as of 21:00 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The first full day of Rally Turkey is also the longest day of the event, with 159.14 kilometres accounting for over half of the rally’s competitive distance. A loop of three stages is run either side of mid-day service, starting with the Içmeler test close to the service park before heading north to Çetilbeli and Ula.
Key stage: Çetibeli (SS3 & SS6, 38.15 kilometres)
Martin Järveoja (Co-driver car 8): “This is the longest stage of the rally, and I think it’s probably the toughest one as well, especially for the second pass in the afternoon. Some sections are really rough. It’s a stage where you can make a big difference but it’s also one that you have to survive.”
Quelle: TOYOTA GAZOO Racing official website: https://toyotagazooracing.com/