THE MEDITERRANEAN TOUR CONTINUES After stopovers in Sardinia and Cyprus, and before the current Mediterranean tour concludes in Greece, Turkey will host the seventh of the sixteen-round 2005 World Rally Championship. Peugeot has finished both ...
THE MEDITERRANEAN TOUR CONTINUES
After stopovers in Sardinia and Cyprus, and before the current Mediterranean tour concludes in Greece, Turkey will host the seventh of the sixteen-round 2005 World Rally Championship. Peugeot has finished both Rally Turkeys to be organised as WRC qualifiers to date with a car on the podium and will again be out to score maximum points to consolidate its position as leader of the provisional Manufacturers' standings. Marcus Gronholm, who finished 2nd here last year, and Markko Martin, who has been in extremely consistent form since the beginning of the season, will be the team's men of the moment.
After the punishing Cyprus Rally, the rough, rocky, twisty stages of which took their toll on the WRC machines, Rally Turkey promises to dish out still more heat, dust and difficulties. Its route however is expected be less gruelling tough than that of its Cypriot counterpart. Turkey, which will also host a Formula 1 Grand Prix for the first time this summer, joined the world rally calendar in 2003.
Peugeot Sport will once again throw all its strength into the upcoming battle in a bid to secure its first victory of the year. An outright win would effectively be a welcome result for the French team which has so far proved particularly consistent, with six top-three finishes* to its name since the start of the year, but which hasn't yet succeeded in climbing onto the highest step of the podium. "The positive aspect of the first third of the season is without the shadow of a doubt the reliability of our car," underlines Peugeot Sport's Director Jean-Pierre Nicolas. "However, we've still got work on our plates with our partner Pirelli to optimise the tyre factor on the performance front."
Marcus Gronholm finished 9th in the 2003 Rally Turkey after losing ground following a technical problem. In 2004, he was battling for victory when a freak incident lost him time during Leg 2. His 307 WRC unearthed a metal rod buried in the stage surface which then pierced both the chassis of the car and the seat of his co-driver Timo Rautiainen. The harm done was finally less than at first feared but the seconds lost put the Finn out of contention and he was forced to settle for 2nd place.
Never one to bear a grudge, Marcus still enjoys Rally Turkey. "It's not my favourite type of rally but the organisers did a really good job last year in producing a smoother route than Cyprus," commented the two-times World Champion. "I was pretty unlucky last year. Let's hope it will be different this time round. I know it will be very difficult but we will see--"
Markko Martin has not harvested a great deal of success from his two previous visits to Rally Turkey. In 2003, he finished 6th after losing a big chunk of time with mechanical problems on Day 1. Last year, he dropped down the leaderboard when his engine drowned in a watersplash. "It's a tough event on the cars. My priority will be to reach the finish to score as many points as possible. I know I will be able to count on the reliability of the 307 WRC and I really want to help my team fight for the Manufacturers' title. That's important, so I am pleased with the results I have scored since the beginning of the season. I would naturally like to progress performance-wise though and our engineers are working very hard to adapt the car's handling to my driving style," says the Estonian whose consistency has been one of Peugeot's trump cards during the opening phase of the 2005 season. Markko Martin is currently 3rd in the provisional Drivers' championship standings.
(*) Gronholm: 2nd in Mexico and New Zealand, 3rd in Sardinia. Martin: 2nd in Sweden, 3rd in Mexico and Cyprus.