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Competitors, members of the media and senior officials have now arrived in Marmaris and are making their final preparations for Marmaris Rally Turkey, TOSFED’s officials candidate event for the FIA World Rally Championship, which takes place this weekend (October 20-22).

Thirty-six Turkish crews, two teams from Cyprus and one from Bulgaria will be able to pass through the gravel special stages in two reconnaissance sessions on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

The event then gets underway with a ceremonial start in the centre of the tourist town of Marmaris on Friday evening at 18.30hrs, where senior rally officials will be joined by government representatives from the Marmaris and Muğla areas, VIPs and Osman Aşkin Bak, Minister of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Turkey.

Turkey’s exciting new rally in the Muğla region will then return to the WRC calendar in September 2018 after a seven-year absence.

Officials will be looking closely at spectator safety, rally timing, road books, security and many other vital aspects of the event for when the world’s finest teams, drivers and thousands of spectators head to Turkey’s spectacular Turquoise Coast in 2018.

To support the event’s Serbian FIA Observer Branislav Pijevic and his three nominated Stewards from Romania, Serbia and Turkey, a four-strong FIA delegation will work closely with rally officials from TOSFED to polish the event to the exacting standards required by the FIA and WRC Promoter GmbH.

Oliver Ciesla is managing director at WRC Promoter GmbH and has been in Marmaris on three occasions this year to liaise with rally officials on the requirements of the WRC. He has checked out special stages, start and finish locations, rally headquarters, media and team facilities, service parks and the local area to offer advise to TOSFED and feedback to teams and WRC staff.

“This weekend’s Marmaris Rally Turkey is an integral part of the build-up to 2018 when the country will make a welcome return to the WRC for the first time since 2010,” said Ciesla.

“It will provide an exciting foretaste of what competitors, media and fans can expect in less than 12 months, and I’m delighted representatives from our manufacturer teams have taken the opportunity to attend to begin their preparations.

“We’ll work closely with TOSFED over the next days to ensure that when the WRC arrives next September the sporting and promotional infrastructure matches the high standards that are demanded of a WRC event.”

Former WRC driver Michèle Mouton is the WRC’s safety delegate. The French lady arrives tomorrow (Thursday) and will drive the special stages, assess the safety of the road books and offer advice to route co-ordinators, both before and during the rally, and also spend time looking at potential new stages for 2018. Mouton drives the stages when events are live to ensure that spectators are positioned in safe locations and signage is accurate.

WRC rally director Jarmo Mahonen will also visit Marmaris to oversee the candidate rally, check on the sporting implementation and get a feel for what the event may look like in September 2018 when the Hotel Grand Yazici Turban – which is normally bustling with hundreds of package holiday makers – hosts Turkey’s return to the WRC.

The third week in October marks the end of the holiday season in Marmaris and hotel staff enjoyed their official ‘wrap’ party on Monday evening. But the facility is being kept open for an additional weekend to support Marmaris Rally Turkey.

Normally crammed swimming pools, bars, beaches and restaurants have an eerily empty feel to them as the candidate event is only using a small number of the facilities that will be on offer in 2018, when the media centre and rally offices switch to a much larger conference hall located within the hotel and the WRC shares the area with the tourist industry.

That aside, many aspects of the rally have already been upgraded to WRC standard. A new Media Guide has been devised by the event’s Belgian media director Chris Corteyn and local media officer Atil Atilgan and explicit detail has been placed on safe and accurate media access points on the gravel special stages.

Several permanent WRC-accredited media will visit the event to work alongside a 60-strong army of local media, while representatives from several of the major teams are expected to attend to get a feel for the event and to take a look at the stages on offer and potential hotel accommodation for 2018.

Candidate rally action gets underway with a shakedown stage of 4.25km to the west of Marmaris (3.74km from the service park) at Degírmenyani from 15.00hrs on Friday afternoon.

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