Petter Solberg (Subaru) led the chase of GrÃ¶nholm, the rejuvenated Norwegian winning the final three stages to close the gap. Henning Solberg (Peugeot) spun after puncturing a left front tyre on stage 6 but he is fourth, less than a second...
Petter Solberg (Subaru) led the chase of Grönholm, the rejuvenated Norwegian winning the final three stages to close the gap. Henning Solberg (Peugeot) spun after puncturing a left front tyre on stage 6 but he is fourth, less than a second behind Hirvonen. Kosti Katajamaki (Ford) lies fifth, despite clipping a bridge, ahead of Colin McRae (Citroen). McRae, replacing the injured Sébastien Loeb, held fourth before a poor tyre choice this afternoon cost time and he slipped back. Team-mate Dani Sordo held eighth until he also suffered with his tyre selection and dropped three places. Harri Rovanperä (Skoda) lost 30sec after hitting a rock and damaging the rear left suspension but he was able to limp back to service. The only major retirement was Jan Kopecky (Skoda) who broke his steering on stage 6.
Kronos Total Citroen
Colin McRae/Nicky Grist are sixth at the end of an opening leg that was deprived of three special stages in the morning by some truly awful road conditions and weather. Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio occupy eighth place while Dani Sordo/Marc Marti are 11th.
Colin McRae: " I can't pretend that I'm not a bit disappointed. OK, we've lost time, but at least we know exactly why. We had hoped for dry conditions, or at least a clean line, whereas it was muddy from start to finish. However, I'm very happy with my Xsara. I grew in confidence with it as the day went on. It's certainly been an interesting way to get to grips with it ! "
Daniel Sordo: "The positive side was that my Xsara still felt predictable and easy to drive despite that handicap. On SS8 my notes worked well and I had a good feeling - I was hoping for a decent performance. Tomorrow, we will try to make the right tyre choices and climb back up the leaderboard. "
The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team is represented by one team in the absolute top field - Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud. The Norwegian OMV duo lies in fourth place after leg one. They are only 0,7 seconds behind a place on the podium. Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor got off to a worse start. Following problems in the beginning they nevertheless fought their way up to current ninth overall place. Their goal is to score points which should be possible if the course dries up.
Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "We are not satisfied with our performance. The right feeling is also missing. Sometimes I think that we're on a good way but the times speak a different language. And there is also the problem that we can't optimally accelerate out of the turns. Right now we hope that things will be better on Saturday. If the course dries up this should work out."
Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "The duel with my brother gives me wings. Today we already achieved two second-best overall times. Too bad that three special stages were cancelled and one was abridged today. For these conditions really suit us."
BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen mastered treacherous conditions to lead the Rally of Turkey after today's weather-hit opening leg. The Finns hold a 26.1sec advantage in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car following a day in which more than half the competitive distance was cancelled, as torrential rain turned the mountain gravel tracks in the south of the country into a muddy mess. Team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen lie third. Their similar BP Ultimate and Castrol-branded Focus RS World Rally Car is involved in a battle with the Solberg brothers. The Finns are 26.1sec behind Petter and just 0.7sec ahead of Henning.
Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: "It was incredibly difficult this morning. It was so muddy, with surprises everywhere, and it was impossible to attack in those conditions because I could have slid off the road in first gear in that weather. It was just a question of survival. I was surprised how quickly it dried, to the point that the driving line was dry in places. I lost time this afternoon but that was through running first on the road. I cleared the drying mud away from the surface and that left drier conditions for those behind. I haven't driven as aggressively as I would if I was fighting with Sébastien Loeb but I'm not on my own at the front. Petter has been driving quickly and I will have to push hard tomorrow and keep a close watch on his split times. I'm happy to be ahead but the gap is not big enough to relax,"
Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "It was like driving on thin ice and the grip changed all the time so I had no idea which parts would be slippery. I think I can push Petter tomorrow. I'm really enjoying battling with other drivers because on the last few rallies I've not had to fight with anyone. I've had to raise my speed and I'm enjoying that. I'm a little frustrated to lose time this morning when I started too steadily but it was just so muddy."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford
Friday the 13th didn't prove too much concern for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team in Rally Turkey as the cars of Kosti Katajamaki and Matthew Wilson came home in 5th and 14th respectively.
Matthew Wilson: "These are the worst conditions that I've ever driven in. We had lots of under steer which made it so tricky and also the road surfaces were so changeable, there was just no grip."
Kosti Katajamaki: "I am happy with how things went today although the conditions were very difficult. I actually prefer it when it is wet and slippery instead of when it is drying out. I'm hoping for more rain tomorrow!"
Petter Solberg lies in second place overall after an action-packed first Leg of competition on Rally Turkey today. The combination of some shrewd tyres choices and a perfectly reliable car kept Solberg near the top of the leaderboard all day and enabled him to set the fastest time on three stages.
Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "It's been a very good day actually. The development is clearly going in the right direction and the car is improving all the time. We'll have to keep pushing further and there's still a long way to go to keep looking for the speed, but after today I've got a good feeling."
Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "We've taken quite a conservative approach to today because of the conditions. The set up changes we made earlier have made the car a bit easier to handle in the rough stuff and we're happy that we are driving to the plan. I'm sure that we can take some time out of the guys ahead and hopefully make up some positions."
Red Bull Skoda
The two Fabia WRCs of Red Bull Skoda were running at a variable pace today, on the first leg of the Rally of Turkey. In the beginning it was Andreas Aigner who made everyone take notice with P7, but subsequently his times tailed off slightly. After his mishap in the morning when he had returned to the Kemer service park on three wheels, Harri Rovanpera was able to show his speed on the final stages of the afternoon, his reward was a seventh-fastest special stage time as well.
Harri Rovanpera: (After SS3) "It was very slippery, and it all went very fast. I wasn't able to avoid the rock because of all the mud on the road. We can be glad that we were even able to return to service on three wheels."
Andreas Aigner: "It was incredibly difficult to choose the right pace in conditions like these without running off the road. Each and every corner is giving you goose bumps since you don't know whether or not there will be enough grip. Quite slowly we got used to these conditions, so I hope we can continue like that. We even had a mascot in the car: For some unknown reason we had a lizard as a stowaway on SS 3."