Loix keeps pushing Hyundai on treacherous Turkish terrain. Hyundai World Rally Team crew Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets drove a solid day bringing their Accent WRC" to overnight parc ferme in ninth position overall. Armin Schwarz and Manfred Hiemer...
Loix keeps pushing Hyundai on treacherous Turkish terrain.
Hyundai World Rally Team crew Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets drove a solid day bringing their Accent WRC" to overnight parc ferme in ninth position overall. Armin Schwarz and Manfred Hiemer sadly retired.
The second leg of the Rally of Turkey, this year making its debut in the World Rally Championship, was no less eventful than the first leg with a further 12 crews falling prey to the treacherously rough mountainous stages, the attrition rate now exceeding 50%. Although only two of the day's victims were frontrunners, none of the other leading competitors escaped unaffected with crews dropping minutes rather than seconds.
Although Hyundai's Belgian crew started the day with a sticking throttle, a problem from leg one which recurred, Freddy Loix drove consistently and solidly throughout, but 31-year-old Loix explained that it took a lot out him physically: "The throttle problem we had yesterday came back and got worse. The stages are so twisty and rough that at times I have been absolutely fighting with the car. It's been very difficult and we've had a few scary moments."
Freddy's co-driver Sven Smeets added: "The sticking was very bad in the last two stages of the middle group. We spun twice in stage ten and nearly went off on a downhill section as we couldn't brake. The mechanics made repairs in the next service which made it better but it was still not quite right."
Freddy held onto his eighth position through the day but a damaged turbo on the final special stage set the pair back, although owing to the nature of all competitors' problems, even this delay let them hold onto ninth positon. Sven continued to explain: "The turbo blew about 3km before the end of SS13 and we had to stop to disconnect the oil pipe and we lost over five minutes. Some of the stages today were very rough - SS7 and SS12 - but even though the rest were not so bad, there are still a lot of rocks at the side of the road and if you make a mistake it is likely to be big and cost quite a lot of time."
"But the mechanics worked hard in service this evening and as we have seen so far, anything can happen, so we just have to keep our fingers crossed for tomorrow. It really would be good to take some points from this rally," concluded Sven.
Despite a stunning drive on leg one of the rally during which the pair reached second overall, Armin Schwarz and co-driver Manfred Hiemer were not so lucky on the second leg. Like so many other competitors, the very rough opening stage of the day caused damage to the rear suspension and once the driveshaft was pulled out they were unable to go any further.
Armin explained: "We had a really good clean run in SS7 and I think the time would have been quite good but at about 14km we heard a bang like we had lost a wheel then on the next corner we couldn't continue - the driveshaft came off and the wheel went into the wheel arch. A pity really as I was happy with the settings we had found, the car was handling really well and I was quite comfortable with it."
News from our rivals
Leg two saw a host of problems plague most frontrunners with many experiencing suspension damage from the rocks. Harri Rovanpera who led for the best part of the rally contended with a damaged suspension for most of the day. Stones on SS3 broke his rear right suspension but a rock on SS10 damaged a damper costing the Finn seven minutes and the lead. Unable to fully rectify all the damage, a broken differential on the penultimate stage of the day was the catalyst to his eventual retirement on SS13. Tommi Makinen's (Subaru) dampers suffered after hitting a rock on the opening stage of the day; on stage ten he damaged the track control arm costing him a minute and stage eleven he dropped a further three minutes when roadside suspension repairs did not hold and he had to limp through the stage. In the Ford camp, Duval spun on SS8 losing 25 seconds and handed his third place to Makinen and a bent steering rack in the stage following made driving very difficult for the remainder of the group of stages. Colin McRae (Citroën) and Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) spun in SS8 and SS10 respectively.
After Rovanpera's retirement, Carlos Sainz (Citroën) adopted the lead and has held position since SS10. His nearest rival Richard Burns (Peugeot) lies 1.19.5 minutes behind - a cushion which only one mistake could diminish - and Francois Duval (Ford) a further 24.5 seconds adrift. Colin McRae (Citroën) and Gilles Panizzi (Peugeot) hold fourth and fifth positions respectively.
The third leg covers the final 84km of competition back in the Bey Mountains west of Kemer. Four of the remaining five stages have been used before and they sandwich the new 12km Arykanda (SS16). Surviving crews reach the Kemer podium finish at 15:45hrs.