When the heavens open... The opening leg of the 2006 Rally of Turkey was significantly upset by torrential rain which caused the cancellation of three of the nine stages on today's menu. The day was far from restful for the 'Junior' runners and...
When the heavens open...
The opening leg of the 2006 Rally of Turkey was significantly upset by torrential rain which caused the cancellation of three of the nine stages on today's menu. The day was far from restful for the 'Junior' runners and the Citroen C2 drivers were amongst those who suffered in conditions that were barely practicable at times!
The combination of appalling weather and a cascade of incidents has taken its toll at the end of a day that it is probably best to forget. Fabien Fiandino and Sabrina De Castelli had hardly covered 10 kilometres of the run-out from service to SS1 when their C2-R2 disappeared from the screens with transmission failure. Meanwhile, the other competitors were forced to treat the first two stages of the event as a road section following their cancellation by the organisers on safety grounds. "I've never enjoyed conditions like those we've had today," commented Kris Meeke who now knows that the roads of the Welsh forests in deepest winter can be compared with their Turkish counterparts with which he is less familiar in autumn. "The going was terribly muddy and slippery," added Julien Pressac. "You risked going off at any moment, even at low speeds." The rally had barely started than it was already turning into a nightmare for many!
It was only around the midday mark that the real business was able to begin in earnest. Kris Meeke and Glenn Patterson were immediately on the pace and put in a globally positive performance that saw their Citroen C2 S1600 emerge in 2nd place after SS7 just 4.8 seconds behind the leaders thanks to two fastest times and a second place. "I feel confident with the car," said Kris. "That means I can drive quickly, at my own pace without overdoing it. What with the weather and the conditions we've got today, I prefer to take it cautiously."
However, on the following 29.28km test (SS8), the longest of the day, Kris Meeke's car came to a halt with a collapsed front right suspension wishbone 3km after the start. "The stage was very muddy and very slippery at one point. The only thing you could do was just sit in the lines left by the preceding cars and that's what I was concentrating on doing when I unfortunately hit a buried rock. I am so dissappointed for the team which once again had prepared a perfectly set-up, competitive and easy to drive car for me."
Meanwhile, Julien Pressac and his co-driver Jack Boyhre also reported a challenging first leg. "It's been a very complex day;" admitted the Citroen driver. "The conditions have been very changeable and I wasn't always been able to read how much grip was available, especially towards the end of the day when the stages began to dry out. I was driving far too cautiously when I should have been pushing, and vice-versa." The French crew also dropped more than 7 minutes following a double puncture on SS8, a stage which caused havoc for many JWRC and C2 runners.
Both Martin Prokop/Jan Tomanek, who picked up a puncture with their Jipocar Racing Team car, and Aaron Burkart/Tanja Geilhausen, who suffered a front left transmission problem on their PRT-tended car, have also had their fair share of problems. Indeed, there are days like that where nothing, even taking things steadily and thinking ahead do not enable the elements to be tamed. Finally, thanks to the SuperRally ruling, the two Citroen crews who retired today will be able to re-start tomorrow to tackle the equally daunting second leg. Total, BFGoodrich, OMP and OZ are the partners of Citroen's programmes in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship.