The Rally Turkey 2019, eleventh appointment in the World Rally Championship calendar and one of the toughest dates of the whole circuit, is taking place next weekend (12th– 15th September).
The rallies’ usual high temperatures and the abrasive and rocky tracks of the southwest of the country will no doubt pose a great challenge for both drivers and their machines.
Strategy is of the essence in this type of rally, where speed is just but one key issue, the other one being the ability to overcome the numerous obstacles and problems on the way.
Toyota and Ott Tänak arrive at the Rally Turkey 2019 as the top favourites, particularly after their historic 1-2-3 in Germany. The Estonian driver faces the gruelling rally from a very comfortable position.
He currently has a very healthy 33-point advantage over Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), who is second and is 40 points ahead of Sebastien Ogier (Citroën), third.
The driver from Kärla, however, will not be letting his guard down as he hopes to defend his 2018 victory in this very nation. Judging by his state of form, he is well on the way of doing so.
At present, he is the fittest driver in the grid having won four (Chile, Portugal, Finland and Germany) of the last five races. Tänak can also count on the support of his two top squires, the British Kris Meeke and the Finn Jari-Matti Latvala at the Rally Turkey 2019.
Neuville and Ogier vs Tänak
The heads of ranks of both Hyundai and Citroën; Neuville and Ogier, have the difficult mission to try and defeat the giant from Toyota at the Rally Turkey 2019.
As unachievable as it might seem, they are obliged to put in their best effort to do so. Whit just four more rallies left in the calendar they simply cannot continue losing ground to Tänak.
The Belgian driver from Hyundai is going through a rough patch which he urgently needs to overcome. Neuville hasn’t opened the champagne since his second win of the season in Argentina at the end of April.
Since that victory, he has only managed another podium appearance, in Rally Portugal, out of the six races in which he has taken part. If he really wants to keep his coveted title chances open, he must raise his competitive level asap.
For this edition of the Rally Turkey 2019, at least, Neuville will have two luxury teammates, the Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen and the Spaniard Dani Sordo. Sordo, the winner of the Sardinian rally, is having a sensational season by the way, and could well emerge as one of the main protagonists of the weekend.
Ogier, for his part, is going through a similar – or worse – situation than Neuville. The Frenchman from Citroën is still not completely comfortable with his machine. The C3WRC doesn’t seem to be giving him the necessary power and level of performance that he needs if he wants to hunt the Japanese missile down.
The understeering issues of his car are keeping the driver from Gap from performing at his best. Ogier, eager to find a solution to his problems, has been training hard in Greece last week.
During this season, Ogier has followed a similar path to that of his Hyundai adversary. He had two victories at the beginning of the year (Monte-Carlo and Mexico) and then he has gone into a performance slump. Just as he has for most of the season, he will be accompanied by the Finn Esapekka Lappi onboard the other C3WRC.
Finally, M-sport has again put together a circumstantial line-up. The team’s main-man, Elfyn Evans, continues to recover from the back injury he suffered at the Estonian Rally. The team’s principal driver role will fall back on Teemu Sunninen.
The flying Scandinavian could well take one of the top positions at Rally Turkey 2019. Not in vain, he finished fourth at the previous edition, taking his Fiesta WRC to a level well above its capabilities.
In 2018 he demonstrated a very intelligent driving style which allowed him to overcome every single problem he encountered. Contrary to what happened a few weeks ago in Finland and Germany, Guus Greensmith will not be at the wheel of the other Fiesta.
Inages of ‘Preview of Rally Turkey 2019′: WRC.com