The long-awaited Rally Turkey started yesterday with a high-speed superspecial along the spectator-packed streets of the Marmaris Marina. Hyundai’s Norweigan driver won the 2km race in 2:03 minutes, becoming the first leader of the rally.
Back in Turkey
After an eight-year lapse, the World Rally Championship is back in Turkey for its 10th leg of the calendar. This year’s Rally Turkey features a new and spectacular itinerary centred around the Mediterranean region of Marmaris. But there is more to this Rally than its beautiful landscapes. The new layout promises new and hard challenges for the teams. There will be 873 kilometres in total across 17 stages which include both fast, flat open roads as well as sinuous mountain tracks.
There are also sixty-eight participating vehicles from 22 different countries across four categories (WRC, WRC1, WRC2 y JuniorWRC). As an additional perk, the winner of this edition will also be given a week-long luxury cruise on board a private yacht along the Turkish coast, courtesy of the Turkish Federation of Motorsports (TOSFED).
Mikkelsen takes the lead
Nobody expected Mikkelsen to take the early lead after suffering a problem with his Hyundai’s transmission at shakedown. The Norwegian driver had to abandon after just one pass and be towed away to the garage. At the moment of truth, however, both driver and car demonstrated to be on top form.
Mikkelsen was the only driver amongst all participants to chose medium-hard compound tyres and the bid paid off. He crossed the finish line 2.5 seconds ahead of Irish Craig Breen (Citroen); 2.8 ahead of Estonian Ott Tänak (Toyota) and 3.1 ahead of current leader Neuville (Hyundai).
Five-times world champion Sebastien Ogier (Ford) arrived in twelfth position after a beginners mistake saw him landing heavily on the front of his car and crashing against the protective barriers, as the Frenchman himself explained after the race: “I had a massive kick on the jump, which I didn’t expect, and I couldn’t break for the next corner” .
Tomorrow the teams head towards the centre of the country and the city of Mugla, where they will perform two loops around three different stages. The first one (Çetibeli 38.10km), is the longest and toughest of the rally and, according to experts, one of the hardest in the whole of the championship. The second will run along 21.75 km at Ula and the third will cover 12.57 km at Çiçekli. All three stages, however, have something in common: bends, rocks and plenty of dust.
By T.C. | Photo: Overload