MARMARIS, Turkey - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are locked in an epic battle for victory at this weekend’s Rally Turkey – just 0.3 seconds separating their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC from the lead of the rally.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been a tough day out there, but Sebastien and Julien have delivered another fantastic performance and are in a really strong positon at the end of the day. For sure they will continue to push hard tomorrow, and we’re in for a really exciting battle with the two main championship contenders separated by such a small margin at the head of the field.
“Teemu too has done a really good job. He took a lot out of his tyres and paid the price for that through the last couple of stages, but when you think about his level of experience and the pace he was able to set it was quite special and looks good for the future.
“Unfortunately for Elfyn, his bad luck has continued this weekend. He had a lot of issues this morning including a rear differential problem. The mechanics did a good job to get him back out for the afternoon and his pace was looking good until he hit a rock on the line that he really couldn’t avoid. It broke the front-left suspension, but hopefully we’ll see him back out on the stages tomorrow.”
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are in the hunt for victory at this weekend’s Rally Turkey – locked in an intense battle with their main championship rivals. After seven of the world’s most gruelling and punishing stages, the Frenchmen are just 0.3 seconds adrift of the lead.
The World Champions didn’t get off to the best of starts. Running wide on the opening super special, their misfortune continued when hanging dust put their main rival at an advantage this morning. But Ogier and Ingrassia can never be discounted.
Harnessing relentless determination, the Frenchmen came back fighting with an impressive display of pace and transformed seventh into second within the space of a single stage (SS5)!
As the afternoon wore on, Ogier and his rival continued to trade times and are split by the smallest of margins with another 165.6 competitive kilometres left to contest.
SS1: 14th (+7.5)
SS2: 8th (+23.6)
SS3: 3rd (+2.6)
SS4: 2nd (+0.1)
SS6: 3rd (+8.8)
SS7: 3rd (+6.1)
Sébastien Ogier (2nd) said:
“Today has been a bit of a surprise as the conditions were often better for us in the front which is pretty rare on gravel. I gave it everything I had and I’m pretty happy with my drive. We lost a lot of time in the dust this morning, which is the only frustrating part of the day, but there was not much more we could have done.
“I stayed in my rhythm for the long stage this afternoon and wasn’t pushing very hard – just trying to stay clean and not be too aggressive on the rocks. I had a lot of tyre wear after that and I finished the day without a lot of tread left!
“It’s still going to be a long rally, but we will try everything we can. Our best chance is to keep the consistency, so let’s see what we can do.”
Teemu Suninen is a notoriously quick learner and the young Finn is proving that once again this weekend – all whilst tackling what is undoubtedly the roughest gravel rally of his career.
Discovering the right rhythm for the intensely rough stages and understanding the level of punishment these cars can take, Suninen showed flashes of impressive speed that outweighed his limited experience.
Setting the second fastest time through the second pass of Çetibeli (SS5), his performance eclipsed a number of his vastly more experienced rivals and saw him and co-driver Mikko Markkula climb from tenth to seventh in the space of a single stage.
But the young Finn took too much out of his tyres and fell to ninth as the afternoon continued. Suninen will be the first to admit that there is more to learn, and will be focused on delivering a similarly clean and progressive drive tomorrow.
SS1: 12th (+5.3)
SS2: 9th (+29.9)
SS3: 10th (+13.5)
SS4: 8th (+9.6)
SS5: 2nd (+2.7)
SS6: 9th (+31.4)
SS7: 9th (+18.9)
Teemu Suninen (9th) said:
“It’s been really rough out there today but I think I’ve learnt a lot. I have never experienced conditions like this and I still don’t know where the limit is. But when I drive flat-out and don’t think too much about managing the car and the tyres – like on the first stage this afternoon – the times are really good. There’s still a lot to learn to be more consistent, but the car has been really nice to drive and really strong so I hope we can continue to improve tomorrow.”
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt have had their fair share of bad luck this season, and that string of misfortune only continued today – temporarily losing their intercom on the first stage of the morning (SS2) and being forced to drive blind through hanging dust and poor visibility.
But the worst was yet to come, and on the very next speed test (SS3) they suffered an issue with the rear differential. Determined to the last, they made it through the next stage (SS4) and back to service for a full repair, but the damage had already been done as they fell almost three minutes adrift of the lead.
Returning for the afternoon loop, Evans set about proving his speed and was on course to deliver a one-two-three for the Fiesta through the second pass of Çetibeli (SS5). Then, unbelievably, a puncture for the luckless Brits just five kilometres from the flying finish!
Surely a clean stage would follow, but Evans’ relentless bad luck had other ideas. Hitting a rock in the racing line, the suspension was broken and the Welshman’s day came to an untimely end.
SS1: 10th (+4.3)
SS2: 11th (+41.9)
SS3: 11th (+32.3)
SS4: 30th (+1:44.5)
SS5: 8th (+22.2)
Elfyn Evans (Rally 2) said:
“It was a tough day. We had intercom issues on the first stage [SS2] and then transmission issues on the two after that [SS3 and SS4]. The afternoon loop was going pretty well and we had really good speed before picking up a slow puncture towards the end of SS5. Then in the next one there was a massive rock on the inside of the line. We missed it with the wheel, but it hit the wishbone and unfortunately that was it – just one of those things.”
1. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 1:52:28.2
2. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0.03
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.6
4. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +16.3
5. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +31.9
6. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshal (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +35.1
7. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +36.8
8. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +50.1
9. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:02.9
10. Henning Solberg / Ilka Minor (Skoda Fabia R5) +6:52.0