This last Sunday, at the beautiful Mediterranean resort of Marmaris, Ott Tänak became the winner of the Rally Turkey and the 10th edition of this World Rally Championship. This is the third consecutive victory for the Estonian who also moves up to second place in the standings, consolidating his position as a serious contender for the title.
The Turkish Rally, which was back on the calendar after an eight-year impasse, lived up to expectations leaving some very dramatic memories for fans to treasure. Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala was second at 22.3 seconds from his team-mate, giving Toyota a double podium that pushes them to the top of the constructors’ standings. Hayden Paddon was in third for Hyundai
How the rally unfolded
The Rally started on Thursday the 13th with a 2-kilometre urban superspecial in which Sebastien Ogier lost seven and a half points after a nose-heavy landing had him miss the following curve.
Craig Breen was at the lead during most of Friday until suffering from a flat tyre on the fifth stage. Mikkelsen drove at the head momentarily until he made a mistake during the last special stage and was passed by Thierry Neuville, who would lead for the rest of the day followed closely by Ogier. Meanwhile, Tänak, aware of not having the speed of his main rivals, took a conservative approach. A strategy that will later pay off in a big way.
The drama came on Saturday morning when Neuville’s Hyundai’s suspension was shattered after a very tough first stage:
“Something is broken. We did not hit anything. I don’t know, it is unfortunate, really unfortunate” – the Belgian driver declared after the race -.
After his main rival’s misfortune, Ogier saw victory up-close for a little while, but his excitement wouldn’t last long as, on the next stage, his Ford Fiesta was to suffer from a similar issue. A makeshift repair allowed him to finish the stage but nonetheless, the Frenchman fell to fourth position. At the following stage, and in his effort to win back some of the lost time, the Ford driver made a fatal mistake and slid off the road and against a tree, having to abandon as a result:
“I still have problems understanding the mistake I made” (…) “Perhaps the energy I used in the morning contributed to a shortness of clarity, but, in conclusion, after two very tight bends I didn’t follow one of Julien’s indications, I broke too late and we slid off against a tree at 5km/h…” declared Ogier after the race.
Mikkelsen inherited the lead once more but he would soon suffer mechanical problems of his own and went down to fifth position. This was how Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala took lead and second, which they hung onto with ease until the final stage on Sunday, where president Erdogan was waiting for them at the podium. The particular hardness of this edition undoubtedly favoured Toyota’s conservative and mistake-free strategy.
The Welsh Rally is next between the 4th and 6th of Octobre; a race well known for its harsh wet and muddy conditions. With only three rallies to go the Welsh date promises to be a very exciting and perhaps determinant stage of the WRC.
1º Thierry Neuville: 177pts
2º OttTanak: 164 pts
3º Sebastien Ogier: 154pts
4º EsapekkaLappi: 88 pts
5º Jari-MattiLatvala: 75 pts
By T.C. | Photo: Crash