Two of the three M-Sport Customer Teams finished the Rally of Turkey, the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship, a rally with a high attrition rate which saw many of the top manufacturers entries retire during the first two legs. Car...
Two of the three M-Sport Customer Teams finished the Rally of Turkey, the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship, a rally with a high attrition rate which saw many of the top manufacturers entries retire during the first two legs.
Best Racing Team
Driver: Balasz Benik
Co Driver: Bence Racz
Vehicle: X493 YOO (Ford Focus RS WRC02)
Final Placing: 13th overall
Leg One: While a familiar face on the Hungarian Championship Benik is unknown in the WRC but enjoyed a steady and trouble free day on his first outing in a Ford Focus RS WRC. Unfortunately during SS4 he was caught behind both Pykalisto's accident and also Ford Rallye Sports' Mikko Hirvonen who had stopped with broken suspension, and as a result lost over two and a half minutes. However sensible driving and a desire to finish saw Benik complete the day in 14th overall. At the stewards meeting following leg one, Benik was given a revised time to reflect that he has been caught behind two stopped cars during the day.
Leg Two: The humble Hungarian, who has been more astonished that many world championship drivers have spoken to him at stage starts than by his comparable times, ran second on the road for leg two. Again, the duo had a virtually trouble free day with their Ford Focus RS WRC and were delighted to complete a second steady day. Despite many of the top runners damaging their cars due to the rough conditions, Benik completed all stages to finish in 12th place.
Leg Three: For safety reasons Benik requested to run after rally leader Carlos Sainz rather than run amongst the top cars during the final day, which was agreed to by the Event Stewards. Due to the fact that all the final stages had been run previously, technicians decided to run his car on high suspension for the last Leg in order to minimise any damage from wayward rocks. His revised running order enabled Benik to take advantage of the fact that the early cars swept many of the rocks from the stages, and he stuck carefully to the middle of the road as far as possible from the large rocks that littered the sides and was again able to post comparable times. Unfortunately his good luck ran out before the final two stages of the rally when he lost his power steering belt during the road section. Faced with no power steering for the two long and possibly roughest final stages, the plucky Hungarian gave a brave performance to bring his Ford Focus RS WRC safely home in 13th place.
Ford Hazirkart Racing Team
Driver: Serkan Yazici
Co Driver: Can Okan
Vehicle: V3 FMC (Ford Focus WRC00)
Final Placing: DNF - Fire
Leg One: There was never a dull moment for former Turkish Champion Yazici during leg one, starting with his car's gearbox jamming in 2nd during the opening super special stage in the host town of Antalya on Thursday night. The duo limped through the road section and was able to change the gearbox during the first service of the day on Friday, calling in some of their technical colleagues from Ford Rallye Sport to assist during the busy service. Once on the stages, Yazici showed much of what has made him a champion driver in the past, however broke a compression strut on SS4 and did well to get his Ford Focus RS WRC through the following stage and back to service without further damage. A full front suspension change, damper and a precautionary clutch change saw him back on good form through the remainder of the day and he finished in 33rd place.
Leg Two: Serkan Yazici's first World Rally Championship outing was literally a baptism of fire for the young Turk, his rally ended in flames on SS10. A rock-damaged rear differential prop-shaft had rubbed on the carbon under-body protection, the ensuing friction causing a small fire. With smoke coming into the cockpit just 5km into the stage, the duo acted quickly, stopping the car and using the onboard extinguisher to dampen down the small fire that had started under the rear of the car. While their quick thinking minimised damage, they were unable to continue, ending their rally high in the Turkish mountains.
Driver: Alistair Ginley
Co Driver: Rory Kennedy
Vehicle: EJ02 KMO (Ford Focus RS WRC01)
Final Placing: 12th overall
Leg One: It was a smooth run for British youngster Alistair Ginley for the start of Leg One, however he broke his steering rack through SS4 and was then caught behind the accident of Peugeot privateer Pykalisto, losing even more time. Despite no power steering, the duo were able to continue on through SS5 and the road section to get into service where they were able to draw on the services of Ford Rallye Sport to assist with a full steering rack replacement. Ginley completed Leg One at 21st overall.
Leg Two: Determined not to let the conditions beat him on his first World Rally Championship outing of the season, Ginley and co-driver Kennedy battled on with the aim of completing each stage during the day. Consistency and patience paid off with a virtually trouble free day for the pair and while their times were not as quick as they would have liked they were delighted to get to their final service having completed not only the longest but seemingly the roughest leg of the rally in 14th overall.
Leg Three: With the two longest days of competition behind him, Ginley was tired but elated to be still running for the final Leg of the Rally of Turkey. The amiable young Briton started the day with a good run through SS 14, however on the following stage he left it too late braking in a hairpin just three km's from the end and it took what seemed to be the longest minute of his life before he was able to start his Ford Focus RS WRC and continue to the end. Ginley and co-driver Kennedy went on to complete the final two stages incident free and were delighted to finish in 12th place on their first WRC outing for the 2003 season.
Rally of New Zealand - 9-11 April
Two privately entered Ford Focus WRC will compete in the next round of the FIA World Rally Championship in New Zealand in six weeks time. This event will see the return of Poland's Tomasz Kuchar and Maciej Szczepaniak for their second WRC outing of the year, along with Antony Warmbold and Gemma Price for the fourth of their 13 round championship programme for 2003.