Next week the Subaru World Rally Team will return to the Mediterranean for the Rally of Turkey, round 13 of the 16-event 2006 FIA World Rally Championship. The event's harsh terrain should have a familiar feel. Run high in the Anatolian...
Next week the Subaru World Rally Team will return to the Mediterranean for the Rally of Turkey, round 13 of the 16-event 2006 FIA World Rally Championship.
The event's harsh terrain should have a familiar feel. Run high in the Anatolian mountains, over a variety of broken gravel roads, the stages are broadly similar to those used a fortnight ago on the preceding event in Cyprus. However, there are some important differences. Firstly, the speeds in Turkey are nowhere near as slow as in Cyprus. Secondly the stages are more varied, with several water-splashes and a range of interesting corners making them a spectator's favourite. Turkey has also had its date on the calendar altered for 2006, meaning that conditions should be significantly different to last year's. Its new slot, four months later and right at the end of the summer, makes rain a distinct possibility, as well as fog over some of the mountain tracks.
Making its fourth appearance in the FIA WRC calendar, this year's rally will be based once again in the town of Kemer, 40km south of the holiday resort of Antalya. The event will begin with a colourful ceremonial start in Antalya's Cumhuriyet Square on Thursday evening with the proper rallying taking place over the following three days.
The rally comprises 19 special stages and a total competitive distance of 351.01 kilometres. Friday's first Leg is the longest of the rally, with 152 stage kilometres, including a night-time Superspecial in the grounds of Akdeniz University. Leg two brings seven more mountain stages and another visit to the Superspecial, while Sunday's three stages make it the shortest Leg of the rally. The winning car is expected to cross the finish ramp in Kemer at 1306hrs on Sunday.
The Subaru World Rally Team will enter two cars in Rally Turkey, one Impreza WRC2006 for Petter Solberg (co-driven by Phil Mills) and another for Chris Atkinson (co-driven by Glenn Macneall).
Petter has tackled Rally Turkey three times before and has finished on the podium twice. His best result came in 2005 when he was second. Last year was Chris's first attempt at the rally and it proved to be a dramatic debut. The Australian retired on the first Leg after ripping a rear wheel off on a rock. He was back for Legs two and three to complete the route and build experience of the tricky conditions.
'The Turkish rally is good, I like the stages a lot and it's one that normally suits our car and tyres pretty well. We've shown good speed there in the past and I'm going to do the best job I can this time too. When it comes to setting a personal goal for the rally, I really want to say that I'll fight for a win, but given our current form that will be very difficult. So I'm aiming for a podium, but who knows maybe there will be the chance of something better. Things can change very quickly in this sport, and for sure things will turn around for us sooner or later.'
'Turkey is a tricky rally with very varied conditions. Last time we had rain, hard-packed roads, some loose stuff, slow bits and flat-out sections. This year I'm expecting a bit of everything and changing conditions again - it's a fairly entertaining rally. Coming so soon after Cyprus I think it's going to be a difficult rally too. In Cyprus we weren't expecting a fantastic result, we were realistic about our chances and that's what we got. Next week I'm hoping to keep things more consistent and just hang in there. Going at the same pace we were running at in Cyprus I think a top-five finish is possible - we'll just have to wait and see.'
The Car / The Challenge
SUBARU WORLD RALLY SPORTING DIRECTOR, LUIS MOYA:
"If I had to sum up the character of this rally in one word it would be ‘variable'. The roads are fast in places, but in others they can be quite rough. It's a bit like a blend of Rally Greece and Rally Cyprus. Drivers have to stay alert at all times though, especially when it comes to keeping a neat racing line. Once you're off the cleaned line there's a lot of loose material around and it's easy to slide off or spin the car. There are usually lots of rocks and boulders by the side of the roads and these have caught out a lot of people out in the past.
Turkey also features some significant altitude changes; some stages are run at sea level, while others can be as high as 1500 metres. The high stages make things a bit more comfortable for the drivers, as the air temperature is a bit cooler. However, it doesn't help the car very much because as the air gets thinner, it loses its cooling effect and that compensates for the lower temperatures. That means that on the higher stages the event will be almost as demanding for the brakes and engines as Cyprus.
In Turkey the main objective for Petter, Chris and the team is to put both cars in the top six. That said, of course we'll do our best to get a better result if the opportunity is there. Since the last rally our engineering team has continued its work on the car's performance and we have held a five-day development test in Sicily. We're making steady progress and are doing everything possible to get the team fully competitive again as soon as possible."
Between the Rallies
In the two weeks since Cyprus, Petter has been at home in Monaco, training in his local gym and enjoying time with his family. His domestic duties have included taking his five-year-old son Oliver to and from his new French-speaking school. Unfortunately for Oliver, the chances of making a big entrance with a WRC chauffeur are slim as Petter prefers to make the journey on foot.
Chris returned to the UK straight after Cyprus and spent a few days at the team's headquarters in Banbury. He and Glenn squeezed in some endurance karting at a local track before they flew to Sicily for the development test. Chris and Glenn drove the car for three days.