WRC

Rally of Turkey: Final summary

Sebastien Loeb won the Rally of Turkey, notched up his fourth victory from seven starts and extends his and Citroën's lead in both Championships. He was not however without his own dramas as he had a wheel bearing failure in the last stage which...

Sebastien Loeb won the Rally of Turkey, notched up his fourth victory from seven starts and extends his and Citroën's lead in both Championships. He was not however without his own dramas as he had a wheel bearing failure in the last stage which resulted in him losing the right rear wheel on the road section to the finish.

After seriously challenging the Frenchman yesterday, Marcus Gronholm was forced to settle for second position after last minute gear selection problems in the final two stages. Despite closing the gap to Gronholm, Petter Solberg ultimately finished third when rising temperatures affected tire performance, although the Norwegian still set three of the four fastest times.

Carlos Sainz overcame yesterday's heat exhaustion to claim fourth position and Francois Duval claimed points for the fourth time this season by bringing his Focus to the finish in fifth. Mikko Hirvonen also scored points for sixth position, despite spinning twice in stage 15. Henning Solberg was the only major retiree of the day, the Norwegian forced out with broken transmission.

Citroen

Citroen has strengthened its grip on the 2004 World Rally Championship with Sebastien Loeb scoring his fourth win of the season in Turkey giving the young French driver a nine point lead in the drivers' championship and, combined with team mate Carlos Sainz' fourth place, Citroen now leads the manufacturers' title chase with a margin of 15 points.

Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena: As Seb and Daniel cleared the final stage, they experienced a thrilling road section towards Kemer service park. "In the last stage, I found that the car was bouncing a bit" explained today's hero. "Then the rear right wheel blocked and we decided to take it off to make sure we reached Kemer."

Carlos Sainz / Marc Marti: In addition to this thrilling finale, Carlos Sainz' braveness should be highlighted. Since Saturday, he suffered from enormous sun stroke. The medical staff even hesitated to let him drive again, but for "Carlos- who -never - gives --up" this was simply out of the question. He started again. It is only when he stopped for the overnight halt that he admitted to team boss Guy Frequelin: "At some points, I thought I couldn't do it !"

Peugeot

Two-time World Champion Marcus Gronholm has finished second on the Rally of Turkey, after a tight battle for victory. Marcus took the lead of the rally yesterday, before a bizarre incident on SS11, where a metal bar fixed into a concrete post on the inside of a corner pierced the underside of his car and co-driver Timo Rautianen's seat cushion. Marcus slowed down immediately to check that Timo was all right, but he was not able to claw back the time lost and regain the lead of the rally.

Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautiainen: "It's been a tough event and I've not been feeling very well today: maybe it was something I have eaten! At least Timo is feeling OK now after his problems yesterday. Generally it has not been too bad a rally for us, but the gearbox problem on the penultimate stage was a bit of a drama for us. Thanks to the advice of the engineers we were able to fix it rapidly, but we have been certainly made to work hard for our second place here!"

Harri Rovanpera / Risto Pietilainen: Retired on the final stage of leg two with gearbox problems.

Subaru

Petter Solberg recorded his fourth podium finish of the year today when he secured third place on the Rally of Turkey. In a thrilling final Leg battle, Petter set a string of fastest stage times to pile the pressure on the leaders and narrow the gap to second place. Having won 39 special stages so far this season, Solberg maintains his position as the fastest driver in the series, six ahead of his nearest WRC rival Sebastien Loeb. Mikko Hirvonen brought his Subaru safely to the finish in sixth place to add to the Subaru points haul.

Petter Solberg / Phil Mills: "I'm quite happy to be on the podium again. Overall I think the performance has been good. We could have done so much better if it wasn't for the first day. It's unfortunate, but that's how it is. Second place this morning looked possible, especially when I heard the splits. Although we tried everything we could, it just wasn't possible to close the gap on the guys up ahead. Looking forward, I'm feeling very optimistic about Argentina. I've done well on every rally so far and I hope it's going to be a good fight all the way this year."

Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen: "We got some more points for ourselves and Subaru so are very pleased. The event was rougher than I thought it would be and extremely hard on the tyres. The next two events should prove good for me as there is much more fast stuff, which is what I prefer, and I'm looking forward to the cooler conditions of Argentina."

Ford

Ford BP Rallye Sport finished a gruelling Rally of Turkey this afternoon with both cars in the points. Francois Duval and Stephane Prevot were fifth in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car and although team-mates Markko Martin and Michael Park were 24th after a difficult opening day, it was sufficient to also claim manufacturer points in the FIA World Rally Championship.

Markko Martin / Michael Park: After first day problems which cost more than 50 minutes, Martin and Park's only aim was to score manufacturer points. They achieved this, despite spending much of the final two days tackling the stages first in their Castrol-branded Focus RS. It meant they had to plough the loose gravel on the surface, leaving a cleaner and faster line for those behind. "The surface was very loose so we took no risks," said the 28-year-old Estonian driver. "After Friday's troubles we have had a quite a stress-free weekend. We've not been driving slowly but it has been quite steady. There was no point in driving flat out because after our time loss the only way we could score points was through the retirements of others. Fortunately that happened. It's a shame that I couldn't score driver points but after everything that happened a point for the team was good."

Francios Duval / Stefan Prevot: "It has been a pretty good weekend for me," said the 23-year-old Belgian driver. "The car has run perfectly today and I'm pleased to score points both for Ford and for myself. It has been incredibly hot again today and I'm relieved that the rally is over and we have no more stages to drive. It was important not to take any risks today. We couldn't catch the car ahead of us and we were in no danger of being caught from behind, so I decided to be cautious."

Mitsubishi

The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports crew of "Gigi" Galli and Guido D'Amore scored points for Mitsubishi in the Rally of Turkey, round seven of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Italian pair overcame turbo problems in the second leg to power back up the leaderboard to 10th position, taking two points in only their second outing with the team. Gilles Panizzi and Herve Panizzi, running under 'SUPERally' regulations during the second and third legs, used the opportunity to further improve the Lancer WRC04 and the French crew progressed development, finding a new rough gravel rally set-up that improved the handling.

Gilles Panizzi / Herve Panizzi: "It has been a crazy rally for me!" said the Frenchman. "We were unlucky to retire on Friday but then had a successful test day on Saturday. What we found in the improvement to the set-up makes me feel very happy. Today, it was like a real rally for me; the stage times were very good and we are looking confidently towards Argentina".

Gigi Galli / Guido D'Amore: "I am very happy to have scored points for the team and to have improved my driving style day by day", commented Gigi. "My personal strategy before the start was to get through the event without making a mistake and I think we achieved that. This is the longest time I have driven the car, and I think our result and Gilles' test work means it has been a good result for everyone".

Next Event - Rally Argentina (July 15-18)

The eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the contenders to South America for the highly-popular Rally Argentina (July 15-18). Hosted in the middle of the continent's winter, temperatures will be a stark contrast to this trilogy of Mediterranean events, but the gravel roads always provide fast and furious battles. Finland's Kristian Sohlberg and Kaj Lindstrom will be piloting the second Lancer WRC04 alongside team-mates Gilles and Herve Panizzi, and the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship contenders will also be back in action for the first time since Rally New Zealand (April).

-fia/wrc-

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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team