Skoda Motorsport team heads into all new WRC round. The Rally of Turkey is brand new to the World Rally Championship this year, and a step into the unknown for everybody. But the Skoda Motorsport crews believe that the Skoda Octavia WRC is ...
Skoda Motorsport team heads into all new WRC round.
The Rally of Turkey is brand new to the World Rally Championship this year, and a step into the unknown for everybody. But the Skoda Motorsport crews believe that the Skoda Octavia WRC is well-suited to the rough Turkish stages.
The Rally of Turkey takes place on gravel roads around Antalya, to the south of the country, and takes in a wide variety of conditions. The route includes mountainous tracks as well as faster roads on fertile coastal plains. But the surfaces are likely to be rough and rocky, putting reliability and strength at a premium.
Skoda Motorsport driver Toni Gardemeister, who regularly ran in the top six on the last rally in Sweden, commented: "I think the Rally of Turkey could be good for us. But we don't know a lot about it, so nobody starts at an advantage in terms of experience. I've been told that the Turkish Rally has a lot of slow corners, some medium-speed corners and many rough rocks. That should be good for the Octavia WRC: it is very strong and has traditionally done very well on rough rallies. Personally I prefer faster rallies, but hopefully, we can score a few points -- that's the target."
His team mate Didier Auriol, World Rally Champion of 1994, agrees: "It will be difficult to fight for wins and the podium, but certainly we can fight for points. I quite like challenging rallies like this with narrow roads, so if I have a good feeling with the car then hopefully we can attack from the start. We have completed about 150 kilometres of gravel testing now, and learnt a lot about some future directions for the car's development. The biggest question mark is that nobody knows a lot about this rally, so it's really quite difficult to make predictions. I have heard that conditions could be difficult though, and in general that tends to be good for us."
Turkey borders seven countries, and is set to be a very popular addition to the World Rally Championship. It is also one of the most historic venues the Championship will ever visit, having forged a reputation as the cradle of civilisation. Two of the Seven Wonders of the World are in Turkey: the Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
But the weather on the rally might be slightly less miraculous. A huge variety of conditions is possible on the route at this time of year -- ranging from thunderstorms to bright sunshine. The unpredictable weather is yet another rogue factor that could make Turkey the most intriguing event of the year.
Skoda Motorsport Team principal Pavel Janeba said: "The Rally of Turkey should be a challenge for everybody in our team. We have just completed some testing in Spain, but as we do not know the details of the Turkish stages, I suppose there could be some changes to the settings of the car during the shake down. Even though we have competed in the Rally of Turkey in the past, the event will be a big question mark in its new WRC format. We will use Didier Auriol's experience and the good condition of Toni Gardemeister, who did a very good job in Sweden."
The Rally of Turkey takes place between Thursday February 27 and Sunday March 2. The event consists of 18 stages, totalling a competitive distance of 380 kilometres. The rally uses one single service park at Kemer, which is also where the rally headquarters is based. The ceremonial start takes place at 1800 on Thursday night, and the finish ramp is scheduled for 1545 on Sunday.