A return to Rally Turkey and a rough WRC. Why it is a good thing


After nine years, Rally Turkey returns, it has moved from Antalya to much more to the northwest on the Sea of ​​Marmara, a very beautiful tourist area.

Organization at the top, with budget planning and consultants from outside the municipality had thought of everything. Everything has turned as it should have been running, that is perfectly and in some cases inconvenient of the race, no delay or inconvenience has been reported.

To talk with the Organizers is to believe “we are back in the WRC to stay there for many years, we raise the quality of the world rally that deserves special attention and we will still be there, even when perhaps they will have to choose future races to put calendar in the future years”.

The race was set with a particular importance to difficulty with low average speed. The Turks wanted to stand out from the latest types of high-speed races that are played on the edge of the seconds, but wanted to have an important mix between speed and endurance, the physical condition of the crews and the vehicles, which then turned out to be fundamental for the final result of the race.

The departure on the promenade in front of the port, with thousands of people crowded in bars and restaurants, boats and yachts all lit up for a beautiful scenery, the first Super Stage, as usual without appeal and perhaps without meaning they had to do it ‘they did, the only beating comes to us from Ogier, very fast party takes the back perhaps a bit too strong, the rear very much that prevents him from an optimal braking. He spun around the next corner, making strings of empty plastic jerseys, and luckily if they were made of concrete he might have made the figure of Neuville or Meeke, but he has won 5 WRCs but wants to say something.

On Friday two laps of three stages of almost 75 km (150 km in total) with the first stage of 38 km – a very difficult path, a stony in some places and other dusty undergrowth. In the night it rained only at the beginning and at the end about 10 km with wet and mud very slippery and treacherous, then all the rest of the stage is dry with lots of dust that brakes the view of competitors even if they leave at 3 minutes.

The first three starting to pay also the duty to clean the road to others, so the test will be won by Craig Breen on Citroen, followed by a Mikkelsen that seems in great recovery of competition.
The other two are the prerogative of the Hyundai of Neuville and Mikkelsen, so after the first lap of the morning, we find Mikkelsen in the lead chased by the two Breen Citroen at 6.3 sec and Ostberg at 8.2 sec others have to worry about checking each other in addition to dust and having to clean the road to the adversaries.

The afternoon’s second loop, Ogier goes and attacks on the longest and most difficult of the whole rally, slamming almost 20 sec of gap to Neuville and Tanak while Latvala is 9 sec and Lappi at over 30 sec

In the two following tests there is the reaction of Neuville and Tanak who can not afford to be so conservative and at the end of the day the ranking changes with: Neuville followed by Ogier only 0.3 sec and Mikkelsen to 2.6 sec. Then comes Latavala, Tanak, Paddon, Lappi in the meantime we point out the withdrawal of Ostberg due to mechanical problems and Breen that has pierced losing a lot of time.

Saturday the tour is shorter only slightly with 65 km (130 km in total) with always the first stage of 34 km Today the official crews will leave at 4 minutes due to the massive presence of dust in suspension and all the others at 3 minutes.

Striking about half stage Neuville begins to slow down, to see from the on board camera does not seem to have even beaten against some large stone, and yet here is that the bonnet begins to exit the attack of the left front suspension. Slowing is of little use, because it is just in time to get to the end of the stage, which will remove all the shock losing many pieces as well as the spring. It soon becomes clear that it is now the withdrawal, but the Belgian does not give up and wants to try, dismantles the rear suspension right and try to reassemble the front left, but what fails will be able to fix the top mountain in what was his seat, because in the meantime he had created a big hole in the engine compartment of his Hyundai.

Thierry and Nicolas are mechanical experts, but not yet qualified to perform miracles, manage to start again only to be able to return to the service on their own, without making the recovery truck move. The stage will be won by Ogier who launches a masterly attack by moving away Tanak and Mikkelsen for over 22 sec.

The following stage is won by Mikkelsen, Tanak and Latvala a few seconds the new movement in the standings from Ogier who loses 18 sec almost all the previous advantage, reason to break a small arm that will force him to a long repair after the end of the test. The French starts paying a delay of one minute (6 minutes real TC) but so full of the result of the repair, which wins the last stage of the morning lap with Mikkelsen and Tanak immediately behind.

At the end of the morning we find, Mikkelsen Tanak at 36.3 sec and Latvala at 38.4 sec the two Toyota continue to complain of a poor traction of their Yaris WRC, which does not allow them to push more to be able to attack as they would like to be able to do, but not pushing could be the winning key of the rally. The Toyota can not attack, but driving with great care do not go to particularly fatigue mechanics, not even drilling a tire or to report an anomaly, so they continue their climb in the overall standings up to the head. In Toyota to signal the spin with withdrawal of Lappi that bends the left rear suspension, ending up in the balance with the front wheels in the void in the woods below. Esapekka pulls the handbrake and then with the navigator exits the Yaris, getting into a safe area after signaling the car, believing that it was safe. Unfortunately it was not so, after about half an hour, the brake was partially released, dropping the Yaris WRC against a tree in the woods below a few tens of meters below.

The afternoon starts again with the long stage of 34 km where we leave Ogier Ingrassia that in a double curve to the left slide outside going to end up against a tree one meter from the road, stop out game over, Seb admitted to have misunderstood a note, after passing the first time unscathed, he was not so lucky on the second. The stage is won by Tanak, Evans and Latvala but a heavy blow is given to the transmission of Mikkelsen who loses more than 1 minute and 40 seconds.

Worth noting the exit of the Al Rajhi on Fiesta WRC, which ended just inside the dry scrub, has caught fire both his Ford and the whole forest, all burned and destroyed, they had to stop the stage and had to intervene as many as three fire trucks and even a Canadair plane, to stop the fire and prevent the whole hill from brutally burning.

The short follow-up stage is won by Latvala Evans and Tanak the two Toyota seek the thrust to consolidate the top of the standings and bring heavy points even for the brands. In stage to report Craig Breen that with a lot of acrid and dense smoke in the car has to stop on stage a couple of times, but nothing comes from the engine compartment, there is no fire, unfortunately does not notice that comes from the rear.

Time to finish the stage and in the transfer stops with high flames coming out of the rear, it could be a detail of the body that touching the catalyst (which works at about 900 degrees) may have caught fire. Unfortunately, the internal fixed safety extinction is only for the engine compartment and in the front passenger compartment directed to the seats, even if it would not shut off because the violent flames are eating the rear that wrapping the tank make an incredible fire flare up. Fire trucks will arrive, but the Citroen C3 will be completely destroyed, a million euros  went up in smoke.

Esapekka Lappi (FIN) performs during FIA World Rally Championship 2018 in Marmaris, Turkey on September 15, 2018

The last stage of Saturday, ended with Tanak, Evans and Latvala with no other withdrawal worthy of note, the general classification at the end of the day gives us an increasingly convinced Tanak followed by Latvala to 13.1 sec both on Toyota and Paddon at one minute and 10 sec on Hyundai.

Fourth to be reported the very young Finnish, here for the first time to learn to run more endurance on difficult ground that in speed performance with the Fiesta Wrc Plus, Teemu Suninen at 3 min and 22 sec of note the overwhelming inclusion in the Top Ten of Wrc-2 with Solberg sixth, Kopecky eighth both on Skoda R5 and Tempestini ninth on Citroen C3 R5.

Sunday will not be all of rest, even if it will be short enough with four stages for a total of 35 km the Power Stage will be the only one repeated twice, a first step to control the pacenotes and as a fourth to be able to grab extra points from 5 to 1, to take into account that in the battle there will be all the Big Drivers returned with the Rally Two.

The first of only 7 km wins overbearing Thierry Neuville, wants to immediately clear his strength and supremacy of speed, Ostberg and Ogier immediately behind.

The two stages to follow are a little slow, especially for Neuville far behind in the overall standings, while Ogier must recover in every way the possibility to enter the Top Ten, the important reasons will be, the savings in tire consumption that will be essential for an optimal management of the same in power stage and trying to bring back at most extra points.

Before the penultimate stage, Evans will pay an advance of 5 minutes, which will see him drop to 12 position, but above all behind Ogier allowing him to return to tenth absolute and still be able to take an additional point. This ploy in the future can always serve you never know for the finally world WRC classification.

So we get to the Ultimate Power Stage, where we start with a Micky Mouse slide style 80s style with Neuville, which is confirmed first to take the 5 points according to Ogier then Tanak Latvala and Evans.

The General Classification of the rally comes in the final: Tanak-Jarveoja and Latvala-Anttila on Toyota, then third Paddon-Marshall on Hyundai to follow fourth Sunninen-Markkula on Fiesta, fifth Mikkelsen-Jæger on Hyundai and sixth Solberg-Minor on Skoda Fabia R5 first of Wrc-2 that score a striking result, showing that the experience of difficult races in rally is always an important factor.

The award ceremony was sober and beautiful, with all the major political and sports figures of Turkya starting from President Erdogan on stage to reward everyone, a sign of a will and respect for politics towards sport. The organizers have confirmed that their entry into the world WRC, will be a long time, especially have proposed a tough race with an ancient and difficult flavor that must be managed with both the head as well as the heart and the foot, or endurance and performances.

This has shown that the world in the future will need different races with a specific connotation: hard and fast earth, snow and ice, tortuous and fast asphalt. So you can have different races and always exciting that can give the possibility of victory to teams, drivers and cars always different, even if we have to say, the last three races completely different from each other, (Finland beautiful and fast gravel, Germany asphalt fast and mixed slow, Turkish hard and slow gravel) have all been won by the same driver and car, which has never happened since 2016.

In the WRC standings we find Neuville at 177 points that is chased very closely from Tanak to just 164 points and then Ogier third to 154 then Lappi, Latvala and Mikkelsen far away. In the brands, Toyota leaps ahead with 284 points followed by Hyundai at 279 M-Sport at 244 and Citroen at 169

Now he returns home quickly to prepare the Wales Rally to be held 4-7 October next to Llandudno land of Elfyn Evans were the year after he won and this year will seek a strong return.

At the end of the rally the winners of the two major categories Wrc-1 and Wrc-2 will leave for a week on beautiful yachts on Marmara Sea with twelve guests each for a dream holiday offered at the last moment by the organizers, as a greater plus benefit hoping to receive maximum votes a bit in all assessments.

The RacerViews info

By Carlo Canova (Carlocanovarallye) September 2018

Originally in Italian. Editing by Sam Tickell

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