Everything to discover for Peugeot in Turkey. Immediately after its remarkable fourth consecutive success in Sweden, Peugeot Sport travels to the Rally of Turkey which this year counts towards the World Championship for the very first time. This...
Everything to discover for Peugeot in Turkey.
Immediately after its remarkable fourth consecutive success in Sweden, Peugeot Sport travels to the Rally of Turkey which this year counts towards the World Championship for the very first time. This newcomer to the series should suit the 206 WRC as well as the team's three nominated drivers for the event, namely Marcus Grönholm, Richard Burns and Harri Rovanperä.
After scoring points on the Monte Carlo Rally and after securing top honours in Sweden for the fourth year in succession, Peugeot currently figures in second place in the provisional Manufacturers' World Championship standings, two points behind Citroën, while Marcus Grönholm, brilliant winner in Sweden, and Richard Burns, fifth on the 'Monte' and third in Karlstad, are equal third in the Drivers' table.
This year's calendar kicked off with two of the sport's traditional classics but the third encounter of 2003 takes teams to an event that is totally new to the series, the Rally of Turkey. The fact that this country shares a border with Iraq means that its geopolitical situation is particularly sensitive as these lines go to press, yet despite this highly serious consideration, the Rally of Turkey's novelty in the championship remains a big draw from the purely sporting angle.
The event itself becomes the sixth round of the series to take place in the Mediterranean region, joining other events in France (Monte Carlo, Corsica), Italy (Sanremo), Greece (Acropolis), Cyprus and Spain (Catalonia). The organisers have worked hard to obtain WRC status and have applied for inclusion in the world calendar for the past three years. Initially run on asphalt, the event became an all-gravel affair in 2001 in order to meet the recommendations of the FIA.
Its format matches WRC guidelines, with a route split into three legs and featuring approximately 380 kilometres of stages. The service park and Rally Headquarters will be based by the sea, not far from the historic town of Antalya, one of Turkey's leading tourist venues.
The stages themselves are something of a blend of those found in the World Championship rounds that take place in nearby Greece and Cyprus. As in the latter, average speeds are expected to be reasonably low, while the gravel mountain tracks promise to be as rough and punishing in places as those of the Acropolis Rally, making it a terrain that should suit the Peugeot 206 WRC which won in Cyprus in 2002.
Last year saw Peugeot's young recruit Juuso Pykälistö take part in the Rally of Turkey driving a 206 WRC, although the route has since been significantly revised and, given the time of the year at which it takes place, the organisers have taken the precaution of running stages at lower altitudes with a view to minimising the risk of snow. "This rally will be new for everyone, so it will be a good chance to analyse the ability of the different teams to react to change," believes Peugeot Sport Director Corrado Provera. "We are confident in the performance and reliability of our car."
The French squad will be able to count on the collective experience of its three nominated drivers. Marcus Grönholm gave a fresh demonstration of his talent by dominating the recent Swedish Rally in spite of fierce competition, while team-mate Richard Burns will be looking to score his first win in Peugeot colours, an achievement that narrowly escaped him in 2002. Finally, like his team-mates, Harri Rovanperä should also be in his element over this type of terrain.