Marcus Flies, But Disappointment For Harri Marcus Gronholm leads Peugeot's charge heading into the final day of the Rally of Turkey, in second place at the end of day two just 15.9 seconds behind the leader. But his team mate Harri Rovanpera ...
Marcus Flies, But Disappointment For Harri
Marcus Gronholm leads Peugeot's charge heading into the final day of the Rally of Turkey, in second place at the end of day two just 15.9 seconds behind the leader. But his team mate Harri Rovanpera was unfortunately forced to retire with a gearbox problem on the final stage of the day.
Leg two of the Rally of Turkey consisted of six stages split into three long loops of two. Conditions were typically rough and hot, in contrast to last year when the Rally of Turkey was run in February. Despite the unfamiliar nature of the terrain, both Peugeots were fast and reliable over today's 153 competitive kilometres.
Marcus got off to a flying start to set fastest time and take the lead on the second stage of the day. Unfortunately, a bizarre problem on SS11 forced him to slow down and lose the lead, when a metal bar fixed into a concrete post pierced the bottom of the car and co-driver Timo Rautiainen's seat cushion. Marcus instantly backed off to make sure that Timo was all right, before resuming his usual rapid pace.
"It was a very strange problem," said Marcus. "Timo shouted out in pain, and I was quite worried so I slowed down straight away. Luckily he is fine now and has no injury, so we can continue to attack hard. The drier conditions today suited us well, so I think we can try and push again tomorrow. "
Harri started the day in sixth, and struggled slightly with brake and tyre wear in the morning. However, he found a strong rhythm in the afternoon and set a second-fastest time on SS11 (just a tenth of a second off the stage winner) to surge up to fourth overall. However, his Peugeot's transmission seized on the final stage, and the Finn was forced into a bitterly disappointing retirement.
Harri said: "It seems I am destined never to be lucky in Turkey! What happened to me was a real pity, because up until that point everything was going very well. I had a lot of confidence in the car and I was able to push. Maybe I could have been on the podium...but we will never know. Now I just have to look forward to the next rally, and wish Marcus luck for tomorrow."
The last leg of the Rally of Turkey is made up of four decisive stages. High temperatures and rough roads once more await the drivers in the final battle to the finish. With a high attrition rate and plenty at stake, the result will hang in the balance until the winner crosses the finish ramp at 1431.