Weather Persistent, heavy rain throughout the morning. The rain eased and there were brighter conditions in the afternoon. Temperatures on the stages ranged from 11C to 20C. Petter Solberg lies in second place overall after an action-packed ...
Persistent, heavy rain throughout the morning. The rain eased and there were brighter conditions in the afternoon. Temperatures on the stages ranged from 11C to 20C.
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. The monsoon-like weather of the past few days brought chaos to the event and led to the cancellation of three of the nine planned speed tests. Although the weather improved as the day went on, stages that were dry and rutted on the pre-event recce were instead waterlogged, muddy and extremely slippery. Chris Atkinson drove faultlessly in the treacherous conditions. After making some adjustments to his car's set-up early in the day, Atkinson's speed increased along with his confidence. He holds seventh place overall and has his sights set on improving on that position over the next two days.
SS1: 0758HRS PERGE 1 (22.43KM)
Since the pre-event recce, heavy rain and storms had wreaked havoc along
the south coast of Turkey and the host town of Kemer, and at the start of
Leg one the persistent torrential rain caused more problems. The wind,
rain and fog grounded the rally's emergency helicopter so
organisers were forced to cancel the first and second stages. Instead,
crews drove the waterlogged SS1 and SS2 as road sections and went
directly to SS3.
Fastest time: Stage cancelled
SS2: 0841HRS MYRA 1 (24.15KM)
Fastest Time: Stage cancelled
SS3: 0924HRS KUMLUCA 1 (9.90KM)
Even though it was still raining heavily, organisers decided that SS3 was
safe to run, and the 9km section at Kumluca became the first competitive
test of the rally. Crews reported atrocious driving conditions, with deep
puddles and an extremely slippery muddy surface. Compared to the dry
gravel route on which the drivers had prepared their pace notes,
Friday's SS3 was almost unrecognisable. Ford's Marcus
Gronholm set the quickest time, with Subaru's Petter Solberg second
and Ford privateer Kosti Katajamaki third. Harri Rovanpera was the first
WRC driver to hit problems - his Skoda Fabia emerged from the stage with
heavy suspension damage to its right-hand rear corner.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 7:42.7
SS4: 1222HRS PERGE 2 (22.43KM)
After a 30-minute service halt in Kemer, crews drove back into the
mountains for a repeat of the earlier three stages. But once again the
bad weather interrupted the event's timetable. After the earlier
passage of 67 cars, the repeat run of the 22km Perge section was
cancelled by the Clerk of the Course because the amount of mud made it
Fastest time: Stage cancelled
SS5: 1305HRS MYRA 2 (24.15KM)
Organisers abandoned the first half of SS5 because the condition of the
road was so bad. Instead, crews made their way to a new start line, close
to the original midpoint. By this time, the rain had stopped and the
stage quickly began to dry out. Running as first car on the road,
Gronholm was quickest with his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen second and
Citroen privateer Xavier Pons third. Petter Solberg's car scooped
up a radiator-full of mud in a particularly rutted section and the
Norwegian reported an overheating engine when he crossed the line.
Despite this, Solberg tied the fourth fastest time to hold second place
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 8:54.0
SS6: 1305HRS KUMLUCA 2 (9.90KM)
As the rain stopped and the gloom lifted, stage conditions improved
dramatically for the repeat of the Kumluca stage. The Ford pair of
Gronholm and Hirvonen were first and second fastest with Colin McRae,
standing in for the injured Sebastien Loeb, third. Chris Atkinson was
fourth fastest in his Subaru Impreza WRC2006 and said he was happier with
its handling after making set-up changes in the service before SS5.
Petter Solberg and his older brother Henning set exactly the same time
and shared the fifth-fastest spot. Skoda driver Jan Kopecky retired from
the Leg after his Fabia WRC suffered steering damage. After the finish
control, crews made their way back to Kemer for the second 30-minute
service of the day.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 7:21.3
SS7: 1611HRS TEKIROVA 1 (5.50KM)
Petter Solberg was fastest through the short new stage at Tekirova to
collect his first stage win of the event. At the service after SS6
Solberg had reverted to the set-up he had used at the start of the day,
which he felt better suited the mixed conditions. Francois Duval was next
quickest in his privately entered Skoda, while Henning Solberg was third
- giving the Norwegian fans something else to cheer about. Although the
road remained muddy and extremely slippery in places, conditions
generally were improving as the surface dried in the sunshine. Chris
Atkinson reported an intermittent windscreen wiper fault, but otherwise
had a clean run to set the sixth fastest time.
Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 4:46.5
SS8: 1709HRS PHASELIS 1 (29.28KM)
The longest stage of the rally brought another fastest time for Petter
Solberg, who finished two seconds quicker than his nearest rival,
Henning. Gronholm was third to maintain the rally lead, but
Petter's second place overall became more secure as he pulled eight
seconds further ahead of Hirvonen. Selecting the correct tyres for the
drying conditions proved extremely difficult and several leading
competitors felt they had lost time with a bad choice. McRae, who had
banked on drier conditions, dropped 35sec to Solberg on a tyre with
limited cuts, while Danni Sordo dropped more than a minute on a compound
he felt was too hard for the muddy road. Chris Atkinson was fifth fastest
and moved ahead of McRae into sixth place overall.
Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 24.17.1
SS9: 1922HRS AKDENIZ UNIVERSITY SSS1 (5.20KM)
The final test of the day was the spectator stage in Antalya. Headlights
blazing, and in front of thousands of spectators, crews tackled the two
lane 5.2km course in pairs. Less than four seconds separated the top ten
drivers but Petter Solberg went quickest to notch up his third
consecutive stage win of the day.
Fastest time: Solberg (Subaru) 4:12.6
SUBARU WORLD RALLY TEAM MANAGING DIRECTOR, RICHARD TAYLOR:
"Despite the limited stage mileage, it has been a good day for the team. Petter sits in second overall and has given us three consecutive stage wins, all of which is a tribute to a lot of hard work by many people and the ongoing support of Pirelli. Chris has set some good times and I am confident he can move further up the order. We should be clear that there is still much more to do on the car, however we're definitely looking forward to getting back into the fight tomorrow."
"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."
"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."
News from Pirelli
MARIO ISOLA, PIRELLI COMPETIZIONI RALLY MANAGER
"Today we used the KP tread pattern for both Subaru cars. The conditions were very difficult with the day starting wet with lots of mud and then getting very rough later. Petter's three stage wins illustrate the performance of this tyre and we look forward to building on this again tomorrow."
Leg two starts from Kemer at 0800hrs. Featuring seven more timed tests and 147 competitive kilometres, Saturday's Leg is the longest of the rally and includes six more gravel stages in the mountains before another night time visit to the Superspecial in Antalya.