Rally of Turkey: Subaru leg one summary

At the end of today's first Leg of the Rally of Turkey, Subaru World Rally Team driver Petter Solberg lies in overnight third place, while his team mate Mikko Hirvonen is seventh. On a rally that promised a hot and arid environment, today will be...

At the end of today's first Leg of the Rally of Turkey, Subaru World Rally Team driver Petter Solberg lies in overnight third place, while his team mate Mikko Hirvonen is seventh. On a rally that promised a hot and arid environment, today will be remembered for the unusually damp conditions that made stages treacherous and caused problems for many competitors. Petter and Mikko endured their fair share of difficulties but remain positive and ideally positioned to capitalise on the better conditions expected for Leg two.

SS1 1846 (Thur) Efes Pilsen SSS (2.5km)

The 2004 Rally of Turkey began with a circuit of the 2.5km Super Special stage specially constructed next to the University in Antalya. Running in pairs, in front of thousands of spectators, the opening test presented crews with a complex twisty route that featured a jump and lane crossover. Markko Martin set the quickest time to gain a slender overall lead of 0.7 seconds, while Carlos Sainz was second and Francois Duval third. Tackling the stage first, and dealing with the worst of the loose gravel, Petter Solberg and Sebastien Loeb were seventh and eighth quickest, while Petter's team mate Mikko Hirvonen was fifth. Not the best opening stage for Mitsubishi driver Gilles Panizzi who received a 10-second penalty for jumping the start lights. After the finish, crews returned to the parc ferme at Kemer for an overnight stop ahead of the remaining six stages that made up Leg one.
Fastest: Martin (Ford) 2:12.4

SS2 0838 Phaselis 1 (28.98km)

After the overnight halt, crews re-started Leg one and drove 35kms west of the Kemer service park and up to the rocky Anatolian mountain tracks where the majority of the Turkish rally stages are based. Under clear blue skies Sebastien Loeb set the early pace, with a time three seconds quicker than that of second placed Marcus Gronholm and thirteen ahead of Petter Solberg who was third, despite a fourth-gear spin on the second corner. Continuing his confident performance in Greece, Mikko Hirvonen was fourth, 2.7 seconds faster than fifth placed Markko Martin. Tyre choices for the first two stages were difficult to call as although the bright sunshine was baking the road, the heavy rain of the past two days meant that many sections remained extremely muddy and slippery. Peugeot privateer Daniel Carlssen became the first high profile retirement when he rolled his 206 WRC off the road and out of the rally. After the finish control crews drove a two-kilometre road section directly to the start of SS3.
Fastest: Loeb (Citroen) 22:49.2

SS3 0921 Silyon 1 (34.24km)

Including parts of last year's SS4, the stage from Silyon starts with a narrow twisty downhill section but gradually opens and gets faster until a flat-out piece of road 8km before the finish which is one of the fastest sections of the rally. Battling with mixed stage conditions and sudden changes of grip, Loeb was quickest again, but this time Solberg was second, finishing eight seconds quicker than Gronholm who was third. After little more than 65kms the lead trio were already pulling away from the rest of the field, and fourth placed Carlos Sainz trailed Solberg by 42 seconds. Harri Rovanpera reported an overheating rear differential on the first stage, and by SS3 the unit had lost hydraulic pressure completely which made his Peugeot difficult to drive and dropped him to ninth overall.
Fastest: Loeb (Citroen) 25:57.2

SS4 1302 Phaselis 2 (28.98km)

His car's rear differential fixed in the preceding service, Harri Rovanpera was back on the attack and he posted the fastest time through the 24km stage at Pavliani. Francois Duval was another driver re-energised by the trip to service and the young Belgian was second fastest ahead of Marcus Gronholm who was third. While some drivers enjoyed improved fortunes on the second pass through the stage, there were plenty who were less than happy. Markko Martin dropped time when his car was damaged speeding through a water splash 50 metres from the start line. The front of his Ford Focus WRC hit the water with such force that the bonnet burst open and the radiator cooling fans broke. Stopping to secure the bonnet and make repairs to the cooling system cost him around 2 minutes 30 seconds. In similar circumstances, and at the same water splash, Petter Solberg also had water impact problems, but in his case the engine air intake was crushed. The resultant lack of engine power cost Solberg around 45 seconds over the remaining 28 kilometres. The stage proved to be a disaster for Mitsubishi when their lead car driven by Gilles Panizzi retired with an electrical problem mid stage, while Gigi Galli in their second Lancer lost ten minutes with cooling system damage collected at the infamous water splash. Mikko Hirvonen also had difficulties when his car was swamped at the water splash but later in the stage he faced an additional problem when a rock punctured the radiator on his Subaru. The young Finn repaired the damage as well as he could on the road section leading to the next stage.
Fastest: Rovanpera (Peugeot) 22:41.3

SS5 1405 Kemer 1 (20.39km)

After an unremarkable start to the day, last year's Rally of Turkey winner, Carlos Sainz, seemed to find his groove on SS5 and was quickest by a margin of 4.5 seconds. Gronholm was second quickest to keep up his challenge for the lead, while Martin, Loeb and Solberg rounded off the top five through the stage. Proving he's a useful mechanic as well as a top driver, Mikko's radiator repair held water and despite turning off the engine's anti-lag system as a precaution against over-heating, the Finn still brought his Subaru through the stage in a top-ten time. After the stage crews drove directly to Kemer for a 20 minute service halt.
Fastest: Sainz (Citroen) 14:46.5

SS6 1641 Silyon 2 (34.24km)

A fastest time from Gronholm saw the Finn reel in another six seconds of Loeb's lead, and by the end of the stage the Frenchman's cushion at the top of the leaderboard was down to less than seven seconds. Split times showed that Markko Martin was pushing hard too, but just before the finish, and just after another water splash, the engine in the Estonian's Focus stopped dead with an electrical fault. With radio assistance from his Ford technicians, Martin and co-driver Michael Park worked on the car for 48 minutes before he could re-start the engine and complete the stage. Petter Solberg was sixth fastest to hold his third place overall, but felt that his tyre choice was less than ideal for the conditions. Mikko Hirvonen reported a differential problem with his Subaru and was eighth fastest.
Fastest: Gronholm (Peugeot) 26:03.6

SS7 1852 Castrol SSS (2.5km)

Petter Solberg kept the crowds cheering at the Super Special stage in Antalya with a fastest stage time in his Impreza. Carlos Sainz was second around the sprint stage, with Sebastien Loeb third, Markko Martin fourth and Marcus Gronholm fifth. After the finish crews headed to Kemer for a 45-minute service and the overnight parc ferme.
Fastest: Solberg (Subaru) 2:14.8

Team Quotes

Petter Solberg
It's been a difficult day let me tell you. I tried to do my best but the water splash thing wasn't good and we lost a lot of time there. The conditions were very unusual today, and we've struggled to get the tyre choices and the cuts just right but hopefully, looking at the forecast, tomorrow will be a different story. Carlos is fairly close behind, but when I start tomorrow I'll be looking forward, not in the mirror. I don't think that on this rally Sebastien is too far ahead, we've seen today that anything can happen so let's wait and see.

Mikko Hirvonen
Today has been very tough. We've had a few trouble-free runs where I've been happy with things, but there have been a lot of small things that have combined to hold back the speed. We had to take things carefully when we broke the radiator, and we've had a problem with one of the differentials. But we've got a 45-minute service to get it all back working properly now and tomorrow we should be able to start fresh with everything back to 100 per cent.

David Lapworth , Team Principal
We expected it to be an incident packed rally and already there's been some drama with a number of retirements and several cars suffering at the river crossing where Petter's car was damaged. Tomorrow's conditions are expected to be much drier and we are looking forward to seeing Petter claw back some of Sebastien's lead. But still, we are in a podium position at the end of Leg 1, and that was our target for this time before the start. Mikko has had a difficult day; he's set some good times but has also had more than his fair share of problems. Hopefully he will get a cleaner run at the stages tomorrow and can demonstrate more of what he can do.

News from Pirelli

Fiore Brivio , Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager:
We've come across weather conditions that are most unusual for this time of year in Turkey, with thick and heavy mud on the road surfaces this morning. Our KP tyres have allowed Petter to keep in touch with the rally leader despite the problem at the beginning of the fourth stage. Tomorrow should be drier and we'll look forward to seeing the performance of our XR tyres on dry gravel.

Team Talk

Technical Talk - Semi-Automatic Gearboxes:

The Subaru Impreza WRC2004 is fitted with a semi-automatic six-speed gearbox that represents the latest in rally technology. As Subaru Team Principal David Lapworth explains, gearboxes have evolved considerably since 1993 when the Impreza made its WRC debut:

Ten years ago, F1 and World Rally cars used a gearbox known as a 'dog box' that was based on a non-synchromesh, manual-change transmission with lightweight spur gears. In contrast to a typical road car gearbox, which is designed for ease of use and smooth operation, the emphasis with the dog box was on minimum power loss and minimum weight, but they required a considerable degree of driver skill to be used effectively

The semi-automatic gearbox was designed to combine the mechanical benefits of a lightweight racing gearbox with an electronic / hydraulic control system to make shifting simpler and more effective. The on-board computer systems combine data from the engine, transmission and gear lever to control the throttle, clutch and gearshift during each change. The driver stays on the throttle during the shift and merely pulls the lever to go up a gear or pushes it to go down, the clutch pedal is not needed except for pulling away from rest

By making the unit electronically controlled, we can ensure the driver makes the perfect shift, time after time. The system eliminates driver error during gearshifts, which also extends the life of the gearbox and engine. As a result the semi-automatic gearbox is lightweight with a very fast, smooth gearshift

Shift time for a typical road car gearbox: 0.5 -1.0 secs
Shift time for a typical manual racing gearbox: 0.1 - 0.2 secs
Shift time for a Subaru Impreza WRC2004 gearbox: Less than 0.05 secs

Tomorrow's Leg
Starts at 0730hrs, when cars leave Kemer parc ferme to contest six more stages (two of which are repeated) and a further 153.60 competitive kilometres. The first stage, the 22.28km test from Perge, starts at 0853hrs, and the final stage, close to the service area at Kemer, at 1829hrs. Following the introduction of the re-start system in Greece, all cars that retired in Leg one are allowed to re-start on tomorrow's Leg. However, such drivers will not be eligible to score points in either the WRC Drivers' or Manufacturers' Championships.


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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team