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The WRC is back again in Turkey for the seventh time, the first time since 2010. After enjoyable events based at Kemer and Pendik, Rally Turkey (14-16 September) will be based this year at a third base, the coastal town of Marmaris. The event was brought back to the series when the Polish qualifying event was dropped from the series, and is round 10. In addition to new roads, there is a new event promoter, this is Serkan Yazici who in 2000 was a regular WRC competitor at the wheel of a Toyota Corolla WRC. These days he is President of the Turkish federation Tosfed and his family has business interests in Marmaris, including the Grand Yazici Club Turban Hotel, which is the headquarters of the event. With the last Turkish WRC event having been held far away, close to Istanbul, the last time Rally Turkey was run anywhere on the Turkish riviera coast was when it was based at Kemer 10 years ago.   Truly this is expected to provide level opportunities for teams. Team members were given the opportunity to attend the candidate rally last year to learn about the event. Although this event counts for FIA purposes as a European event, travel time for trucks is extensive. Most teams will send their trucks on a ferry from Trieste to Cesme, which is 50km from Marmaris, due to arrive a week before the rally. The route is run in the Marmaris and Mugla regions in the south-west area of Anatolia, in Asia. Marmaris is a port and a developing tourist resort on the Mediterranean coast. It is served by an international airport at Dalaman, around 100km away and is a popular destination for sailing. In the last two years, the Marmaris has been a location for Turkish championship rallies, serving as development and candidate events for the WRC. Except for the opening asphalt down town stage in Marmaris, all the stages are expected to be run on hard, dusty gravel roads in hot temperatures, and currently it's not known how many minutes gap will be given between the World Rally Car crews. Tyres are expected to be such a demanding factor that Michelin, who supply all the WRC championship teams, have requested that teams can increase the number of tyres available per car from 24 to 28, and unless it rains, soft tyres are not expected to be used. No fewer than 35 out of the 52 cars (67%) entered for Rally Turkey are Fords! In addition to the three official M-Sport team WRC cars there is the private Fiesta WRC for Yazeed Al Rajhi, eight Fiesta R5s out of the 15 R5 cars entered in WRC2, all 14 cars in the single-make JWRC series, plus one non-championship WRC 3 entry and nine Fiestas (three R5 cars – including one for Henning Solberg - and seven R2 cars) which are not entered in an FIA championship. In 2010, the last time that Turkey was a round of the WRC, five of the top nine finishers drove Fords, but the other cars were all Citroens. There is also a concurrent national cars event for which there are 15 entries.   There will be a new co-driver for Gus Greensmth, Alex Gelsomino, as his regular partner Craig Parry is still convalescing after their Rallye Deutschland testing crash. Championship wise, the driver’s title is focused on Thierry Neuville (172 points), Sebastien Ogier (149) and Ott Tanak (136), all of whom have won three events this year. In the Manufacturers’ series, Hyundai’s team leads with 254 points ahead of Toyota on 241, M-Sport with 224 and Citroen 159. Turkey will be a crunch event in the race for the WRC2 title between Skoda drivers Pontus Tidemand, who has three wins and a second place, while Jan Kopecky has four wins. This will be first time these two drivers have competed against each other this season. Rules say that drivers can compete seven times in a season and count the best six scores. Skoda Motorsport has not declared which other events each driver will have tackled by the end of the year. Latest JWRC news This is the fifth and final round of the JWRC. There will be 13 starters including one newcomer, Raul Badiu from Romania. Non starting will be Terry Folb, recovering from a broken shoulder in a biking accident, and Umberto Accornero, who has university commitments. This event offers double classification points, as well as single stage points. Crews drop their lowest score (i.e. keep their best 4 scores). It seems that eight drivers can mathematically end up champion. Emil Bergkvist leads with 88 points, but has a lowest score to drop. Other possible champions (Dennis Radstrom, 74, Jean-Baptiste Franceschi 62 and Ken Torn, 49) have no score to drop. Team by Team News Citroen As the team explained earlier, Mads Ostberg’ engine problem in Germany was not likely to recur. There were no other technical issues with the cars that ran in Germany, though the drivers twice stalled their cars in hairpins. As testing in Turkey was not allowed, this took place in France with one day for Ostberg and another for Al Qassimi – more a development test session than a pre-event test. Same cars in Turkey as in Finland. No technical changes, all cars will be at the same specification but with improved set up for this rally. One week travelling time for the vehicles from Versailles to Marmaris, travelling by road and cargo ship. As future driver line-ups are being decided, the team’s most important criterium is to find drivers capable of winning rallies outright.   Hyundai Not an ideal result for the team in Germany, Neuville slightly increasing his lead but the team unfortunately lost ground in the Manufacturers’ series. The team noted the car has potential on the tricky tarmac stages but there is still extra performance needed to be found. No major technical issues, though Neuville had a set up problem which caused handling trouble. Neuville’s oil connection problem was a one-off occurrence, resolved between stages. Mikkelsen’s change of his driving style is thought to be due to his need of more experience with the car. Same cars as used in Germany, but Paddon driving Sordo’s car. No technical changes for this event. One day per driver test at Fontjoncouse in South France in August. Five days travel each way by road and ferry from Germany to Marmaris. Regarding future driver selections, the aim is always the Manufacturers’ title. M-Sport No unexpected issues for the team cars in Germany but the car of Jourdan Serderidis, which was identical to those of Evans and Suninen (no new aero), had hydraulic trouble which lost all its fluid. Mechanics unexpectedly were able to change and bleed the entire system in the 15 minute service on Friday morning. Testing was carried out in warm conditions in Greece with two days each for Evans and Ogier only. An older, re-registered car with old style aero for Ogier (chassis 7, last used at Goodwood and Sardinia before that) and their recent cars for Evans and Suninen. As in Finland, Ogier will use development dampers again. M-Sport’s vehicles need nine days travelling time from Dovenby to Marmaris, three days on the road to Trieste in Italy. The trucks are then loaded onto the ferry to Cesme. Truck drivers were then flown to Turkey where they collect the trucks two and a half days later. Then finally, it’s a one and a half day drive to the Asparan service park by land and sea. Aims for 2019? Drivers capable of winning events and the championships!   Toyota The team’s inquest on Latvala’s car in Germany said the final cause which stopped the car was a broken gearbox, but the initial fault was an electro-hydraulic one. Driving the car in back-up modes harms mechanical components, this time the mechanical override of the automatic gearshift system caused damage. In Rally Germany the increased driveability of the engine has a strong influence on the performance, the team and the drivers were very happy with the upgrades. Tanak chose a different torque split to the other drivers. In tarmac configuration the drivers have a choice in the two homologation torque splits, with 50% or 72% to the rear, as selected by driver preference and expected road conditions, Ott selecting the 72% option. For this rally all drivers tested in Portugal. All drivers have the same cars as in Sardinia with extensive changes aimed at overcoming the overheating in hot conditions as happened in Mexico. These included new size radiators and fans with new under bonnet ducting. Seven days needed to travel from Puupola to Marmaris. Changes are being made in the team’s operation. The headquarters and development work on the cars will continue at Puuppola in Finland, servicing and rebuilding the car will now take place at Peetri, on the outskirts of Tallinn’s airport in Estonia.
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