As unpredictable mountain weather made tyre selection difficult during Leg one, Petter Solberg struggled to find the winning pace that has earned him two victories so far this season. Ending the day in fourth position overall, and with 200 ...
As unpredictable mountain weather made tyre selection difficult during Leg one, Petter Solberg struggled to find the winning pace that has earned him two victories so far this season. Ending the day in fourth position overall, and with 200 competitive kilometres remaining, he remains committed to achieving a podium finish. Contesting his first ever WRC Turkey Rally, Chris Atkinson suffered an incident in SS3, which ended his Leg before he had a chance to get into his stride. He will re-start tomorrow intent on gaining more experience of the demanding Turkish roads.
SS2 0708hrs Phaselis 1 (28.98km)
Substantial rainfall earlier in the week, followed by two days of sunshine, meant the Leg one stages were a mixture of hard-packed gravel and mud. Some damp sections remained under the shade of the trees and in corners, while other sections were drying in the morning sun. Taking crews through a small watersplash, before going uphill to a very tight left-hand hairpin, the 28.98km stage from Phaselis became narrower as it progressed and featured a fast, flowing finish. Recording an average speed of 78.47kph. Sebastien Loeb was fastest, with Mitsubishi driver Gigi Galli second and Subaru's Petter Solberg third. His older brother, Ford privateer Henning Solberg, suffered with a brake problem on his Focus and lost over a minute to the leaders. Subaru's Chris Atkinson was seventh.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 22:09.5
SS3 0816hrs Arykanda 1 (11.95km)
The organisers had worked hard to improve the condition of the rally's mountain tracks following last year's event, meaning the stages were generally wider and smoother than in 2004. Including two small water splashes, the 11.95km stage from Arykanda featured muddy corners and changing grip levels, before a high-speed sprint to the finish. Loeb and Galli were first and second respectively with Marcus Gronholm third. Petter Solberg set exactly the same fourth-fastest time as Citroen's Carlos Sainz who had returned to the WRC and his old team as a one-off substitute for Francois Duval. Contesting his first ever Rally of Turkey, WRC rookie Chris Atkinson ran wide in his Impreza on a right-hand corner 500 metres before the finish line. His car hit some rocks and sustained heavy damage to its left-hand rear wheel and suspension. Chris managed to get the car back on the road and complete the stage, but dropped around 20 seconds. Immediately after the stage, Chris and Glenn removed the wheel and other damaged components and began the journey back to the service area on three wheels - with Glenn hanging out of his window as a counterbalance. Although the pair completed the 71km drive and got the car back to the Subaru service area, technicians discovered that the fuel tank had been damaged in the incident. As it was not possible to change the fuel tank in the 30-minutes available, Chris and Glenn retired from the Leg.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 7:51.5
SS4 1114hrs Perge 1 (22.28km)
Climbing to an altitude of more than 1,800 metres above sea level, the 22km stage from Perge was the highest of the event. Featuring deceptive crests, numerous surface changes, a muddy section 5km in and a series of open flowing hairpins near to the finish, it was also one of the most difficult. Gigi Galli was fastest to take both his first win of the event and the overall lead, while Sainz, who was becoming increasingly confident at the wheel of his Citroen, was second and Petter Solberg third. Running first on the road, Loeb was fifth fastest, 23.7 seconds off the winning pace. As the air temperature rose to 22°C, Ford privateer Anthony Warmbold struggled through the test and lost more than a minute, while the two Skodas of Armin Schwarz and Janne Tuohino remained off the pace and were 13th and 14th fastest respectively.
Fastest Stage Time: Galli (Mitsubishi) 16:12.3
SS5 1157hrs Myra 1 (24.05km)
Last used in 2003, the first 15km of the 24km stage from Myra included numerous 90-degree turns and corners that were difficult to judge. Although conditions were drier than in the previous stage, large rocks lined the roadside making driving treacherous and crews were unable to cut the apexes of corners. Recording an average speed of 69.97kph, which was 10kph slower than the average speeds set on the preceding tests, Loeb took the stage win to reclaim the overall lead, while Gronholm was second and Sainz third. Petter Solberg was fourth and Galli, who was suffering with overheating brakes in his Lancer, was fifth. Armin Schwarz's rally came to a premature end when he hit a rock 12 km and was forced to stop with a broken wishbone. Despite attempting to make roadside repairs, he was unable to continue and retired.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 20:37.4
SS6 1240hrs Arykanda 2 (11.95km)
There was no change to the overall top ten on the second pass through the short stage from Arykanda. Loeb was fastest to take his fourth win of the event, while his 2004 team-mate Sainz was second fastest. Having been unhappy with the set-up of his 307 WRC during the morning's stages, Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm was third fastest on this one, finishing 6.4 seconds off the winning pace. Once the stage was complete, crews drove a 70km road section back to Kemer for a 30-minute service.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 7:47.3
SS7 1538hrs Perge 2 (22.28km)
Bright sunshine gave way to intermittent rain showers, as the crews made their way to the start of the repeated stage from Perge. Contested high in the Anatolian mountains at an altitude of more than 1,300 metres above sea level, the stage's difficult muddy section 5km from the start had become more slippery, while the temperature fell to 17°C. Peugeot driver Markko Martin suffered visibility problems due to a misting windscreen and he finished the test more than a minute off the pace. Looking to the leaders, Loeb was fastest, with Galli second and Gronholm third. Petter Solberg was fifth. Once the stage was complete, crews moved to the start of SS8.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 16:39.1
SS8 1621hrs Myra 2 (24.05km)
There was disaster for Skoda on the repeated stage from Myra. Commencing the notoriously twisty stage as the team's sole remaining driver, Janne Tuohino hit the same rock that his team-mate had on the first pass and suffered the same fate - a broken wishbone on his Fabia and retirement from the Leg. Also out was Mitsubishi driver Harri Rovanpera, who retired when he broke his Lancer's rear suspension and was unable to continue. Henning Solberg suffered with a broken damper and lost around 40 seconds to the leaders, while Subaru privateer Daniel Carlsson also retired. Loeb took the win, with Gronholm second fastest and Petter Solberg third. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 20:17.3
SS9 1804hrs Efes Pilsen SSS2 2.60km
The purpose-built Super Special Stage based on the outskirts of Antalya provided an electrifying finish to Leg one. Cheered on by thousands of spectators, the drivers went head-to-head around the course, which featured sweeping hairpins, a tunnel and a slippery gravel surface that was sprayed with tarmac. Loeb was fastest to hold the overnight lead, with Martin second fastest and Gardemeister third. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 2:09.1
Technical Talk: Retire, Repair, and Rejoin - Thanks to Superally
Before the start of the 2005 WRC season, if a driver was to retire his car on any of the three days of a WRC event then his rally was over. But, since the start of this year, Superally regulations have given drivers the opportunity to accept some penalty time, repair their car and re-join the event at the start of the next Leg.
Superally has proved especially beneficial for new WRC drivers who are now almost guaranteed significant stage experience of each rally they start. Chris Atkinson, who joined Subaru at the start of the season, has been one of the first young drivers to benefit from the scheme. After his retirement on today's first Leg in Turkey, Chris will be back out on the stages tomorrow learning more about the car and the roads for the future.
"As soon as we realised the extent of the damage to Chris's car we knew that re-starting under Superally was going to be the only course of action," said SWRT sporting director Luis Moya.
"For safety reasons, no other servicing work can be carried out while emptying or filling fuel tanks and, as replacing the tank takes at least one hour, we had no other option. Once we'd pumped the remaining fuel from the car our priority was to replace the left-hand corner and get the car back onto four wheels and in a state where it could be pushed. Once that was done I called the Clerk of the Course, Simo Lampinen and advised him that we had officially retired Chris from the Leg."
"Next, the car was pushed by Chris, Glenn and their six technicians to the service out control. From there, Chris, Glenn and the event marshals moved it to the regrouping parc ferme where it was held until the afternoon when we were ready to carry out a thorough repair job. The regulations give us 2hrs 45min to get the car ready for the next day, and as long as the car is back in parc ferme four hours before the start of the next Leg, we can choose when we do the work."
"For someone like Chris, who hasn't driven many of the rallies in the WRC, Superally is a very good idea. There's no substitute for experience, and thanks to this system he can still get a lot out of an event, even if he makes a mistake along the way."
David Lapworth, Subaru World Rally Team Principal:
Today has been very much about tyres, weather and stage conditions. We've seen the first sunny conditions after several days of heavy rain and because of this the conditions on the stages have been very difficult to predict. The situation was compounded this afternoon by an isolated rain shower that hit one of the stages and caught most people by surprise. But even though in hindsight our tyre choices were less than perfect, our position at the end of the day is very close to the leaders. With less than 25 seconds covering four cars in the top five, the battle for podium places is still wide open.
"It's been a very difficult day. I don't think I've had the correct tyre choice at all and it's hard to smile when you're fourth! In the afternoon we tried a new tyre evolution, but it was designed to work at 30°C, and it was just 16°C on the stage, so it didn't work at all and I had to do the best I could. We hoped that the rain would miss the stage, but it didn't! It's been very frustrating, but I'm not going to give up. Tomorrow is a very long day, I'm expecting a good fight with Marcus and there are plenty of opportunities for us to make the right tyre choices this time!"
"I'm disappointed for both myself and the team, it was a silly mistake. The conditions were extremely slippery today and, although I started cautiously, I got caught out on a corner on the second stage and that was the rally over. Again, it's disappointing to finish a rally like this, but I have to be grateful for the Superally option and the chance to get more experience tomorrow. Although we didn't drive for very long, I had made a couple of set-up changes, which I felt worked very well. I hope that we'll have more opportunity to put these settings to the test on Legs two and three."
News From Pirelli
Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager: "Petter was handicapped by being tied to a pre-rally tyre nomination, which largely consisted of XR tyres. These were not a perfect choice for the muddy conditions, which turned out, unexpectedly, to form a large part of today's competitive action."
Leg two will start at 0700hrs, when the first car will leave Kemer parc ferme. Crews will then contest seven stages west of Kemer and 150.49 competitive kilometres, making it the longest Leg of the event. The first stage will start at 0733hrs and the day will conclude with a 45-minute service back in Kemer at 1901hrs.