Three teams supported by M-Sport's customer programme will contest the Rally of Turkey, round three of the FIA 2003 World Rally Championship. The teams will all benefit from the support of M-Sport's specialist engineers, technicians and a central...
Three teams supported by M-Sport's customer programme will contest the Rally of Turkey, round three of the FIA 2003 World Rally Championship. The teams will all benefit from the support of M-Sport's specialist engineers, technicians and a central support truck, carrying parts and other shared technical equipment.
Missing from the M-Sport Customer line-up is Poland's Tomasz Kuchar and Maciej Szczepaniak. Faced with escalating transport costs for the remainder of the season due to the demise of the roll-on roll-off ferry for all teams, and the possibility that they may not physically be able to ship the car from Turkey to New Zealand in the time between events, they were forced to make a decision of one over the other. Tomasz and Maciej are hoping to hold a short test in Europe prior to despatching their Ford Focus RS WRC to New Zealand for the fourth round of the 2003 FIA World Rally Championship in April.
Germany's Antony Warmbold is also unable to compete in Turkey after being laid up by illness. The 22-year old is disappointed not to compete in what would have been his first gravel event this season, and is hoping to be fighting fit for Rally New Zealand.
Best Racing Team
Driver: Balasz Benik
Co Driver: Bence Racz
Vehicle: X493 YOO (Ford Focus RS WRC02)
A well-known participant on the Hungarian Championship, The Rally Turkey is Balasz Benik's first foray into the World Rally Championship. The 23-year old said he is determined to finish the event and has been training mentally and physically for what he believes will be the biggest challenge of his rallying career so far. Preferring to compete on rougher surfaces, Benik is looking forward to the rally, however is mindful of the differences between the WRC and his home championship, none the least of which is that WRC events are almost three times as long as the events he has been competing in. This year he also moves up to a 2002 specification Ford Focus WRC (he ran a 2001 specification in last years Hungarian Championship) and he believes being run under the support of the M-Sport Customer Programme gives both he and JM Engineering the opportunity to concentrate fully on the cars' performance over the weekend. Balasz Benik hopes to compete in three World Rally Championship events this season.
Ford Hazirkart Racing Team
Driver: Serkan Yazici
Co Driver: Can Okan
Vehicle: V3 FMC (Ford Focus WRC00)
Twice Turkey Rally Champion, Yazici will be tackling his 2003 Turkish Championship bid behind the wheel of a Ford Focus WRC this season and makes his first outing at The Rally of Turkey. 31-year-old Yazici won the Anatolian Rally in 2001 and was leading the 2002 event until SS14 when he was forced to retire due to mechanical problems. While he admits knowledge of the local terrain will provide some advantage, a route change, regrading of roads and recent storms have almost completely changed the rally route. He said recent torrential rains have caused many slips and some subsidence therefore many of the roads will be 'new' to all drivers regardless of whether they have driven them previously.
Driver: Alistair Ginley
Co Driver: Rory Kennedy
Vehicle: EJ02 KMO (Ford Focus RS WRC01)
Competing in only his fifth ever world rally championship event, Briton Alistair Ginley has chosen the Rally of Turkey to start his 2003 WRC campaign. Ginley competed in three WRC events in 2001 and has experience of the nature of the roads from a 14th place finish in Cyprus that year. The young Briton also excels in wet conditions, which he demonstrated in his first ever WRC outing in the Ford Focus RS WRC at the 2002 Rally of Great Britain. Ginley finished a creditable 16th in Wales, where many of the top manufacturers' entries retired due to the appalling conditions. His main challenge in Turkey will be his road position - as he only had two WRC starts last season he has been classified as 'non-priority' and as a result will run behind the JWRC vehicles, with the danger of catching cars on the rally's longer stages.