Turkey, saturday: Ogier leads by 0.2sec
Disastrous day for title rivals Tänak and Neuville
SS8: Ogier on a charge
Sébastien Ogier produced a stunning drive through Saturday morning’s opening speed test at Rally Turkey to close to within a second of leader and team-mate Esapekka Lappi.
The Frenchman was the only driver to gamble on a mixed package of two hard and two medium compound tyres for his Citroën C3. His bet paid dividends as he stormed through the demanding 33.00km Yeşilbelde a remarkable 16.7sec quicker than second fastest Lappi.
“I was surprised that not many drivers tried it (medium tyres). I tried to save them all the way through the stage and so far it looks good,” said Ogier, who ended just 1.0sec off the lead.
His delight was in contrast to Thierry Neuville’s despair. The Belgian started 0.7sec behind the world champion and was right on Ogier’s pace at the intermediate split times. However, a mistake after 17km cost more than 4min 30sec and he plunged to ninth.
“There was a very slow right and left in the dust and I couldn’t see the corner,” said the Hyundai i20 pilot. “There was a stone that put me out of the road so I had to try to come back.”
Lappi was relaxed about his team-mate’s performance. “I am fine with that, no drama. The bonnet was coming open, I think it was shaking so much that the pin jumped out so it was lifting quite a bit. Seb had a crazy time. I’m not so good at managing tyre wear so I can’t use mediums,” he said.
Teemu Suninen climbed to third in his Ford Fiesta after Neuville’s problem but the Finn was under severe pressure from Andreas Mikkelsen. The Norwegian was third fastest in the stage, despite missing a corner and stalling his i20’s engine, to close to within 3.9sec.
Championship leader Ott Tänak started third in the running order after yesterday’s troubles and was hampered by the loose gravel in his bid to climb the leaderboard.
“From this position we have no chance. It’s loose and slippery and tricky, so not a great feeling,” said the Toyota Yaris driver who now holds seventh overall.
SS9-10: Lappi fends off Ogier
Esapekka Lappi held off Sébastien Ogier’s determined charge to take the lead of Rally Turkey following a dramatic Saturday morning in which WRC championship leader Ott Tänak retired.
Lappi ended the group of three stages with a 10.0sec lead over his Citroën C3 team-mate, but attention was focused on Tänak’s early exit when his Toyota Yaris ground to a halt on the liaison section before the start of the 8.75km Datça test.
“I came here, started to put the helmets on sitting in the car and nothing happens, we can’t fire it up,” Tänak explained. “Something electrical I guess, everything is in safe mode. Five kilometres before we did the refuel, stopped and started again and it was OK.”
Addressing the impact on his title quest, he said: “It makes everything much easier, there’s no need to control anything, just back to the fight. These things keep happening to us. We just need to stay strong and be over it, but it’s difficult to fight for a championship with so many issues like that.”
The Estonian’s exit came shortly after title rival Thierry Neuville dropped four minutes when he slid off the road, leaving Ogier in a great position to capitalise on his rivals’ misfortunes.
After an inspired tyre choice enabled Ogier to close to within a second of Lappi in the opening test, second quickest time in Datça and victory in the superfast Kizlan allowed the Finn to extend his advantage to 10.0sec.
“It’s been a troublefree morning and the pace has been consistent. On the first one I couldn’t match Seb at all, he used the tyres very well. This gives us confidence that we’re in a good way on gravel but it’s still not over,” said Lappi.
Ogier’s gamble to mix hard and medium compound Michelin rubber delivered its rewards. “I think it was bit on the limit with that choice, but it worked out. There’s no reason to take risks but there are still some rough conditions to go through so it’s not over,” he said.
The Citroën pair had almost a minute in hand over Andreas Mikkelsen’s Hyundai i20. The Norwegian was fastest in Datça and never out of the top three times all morning to demote Teemu Suninen by 12.6sec.
Dani Sordo was fifth, the Spaniard determined to keep the Toyota pair of Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke behind him. Sordo had 25.7sec in hand over Latvala, who moved ahead of Meeke when the Ulsterman spun in Kizlan.
A despondent Neuville, Pontus Tidemand and WRC 2 leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz completed the leaderboard.
After SS13: Ogier leads by 0.2sec
Sébastien Ogier held a slender 0.2sec lead over Citroën Racing team-mate Esapekka Lappi at Rally Turkey on Saturday night after a disastrous day for WRC title rivals Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville.
Ogier and Lappi each won two of the six rocky speed tests near Marmaris in temperatures nearing 35°C. The Frenchman reversed the opening leg order by relegating his Citroën C3 colleague in the penultimate special stage when Lappi stalled his engine in a hairpin.
It was a miserable day for FIA World Rally Championship leader Tänak, who retired on the liaison section to the second stage when his Toyota Yaris’ engine control unit failed.
The day proved little better for Neuville, second in the championship standings and third overnight. He went off the road in a dusty section of the opening stage and more than four minutes ticked by before his Hyundai i20 was moving again. He ended eighth.
Ogier, trailing Lappi by almost 18sec, gambled this morning on a mixed package of two hard and two medium compound Michelin tyres. His bet paid dividends as he stormed through the opening 33.00km test 16.7sec quicker than Lappi.
The Frenchman managed his tyres superbly through the remaining two morning stages, before repeating his charge when the long test was driven again this afternoon, when tyre wear was extreme. He was in the perfect position to capitalise when Lappi made a slight error.
“It was always a bit of a risk to be aggressive with the tyre choice but I was confident it would work. It’s been a challenging afternoon because the roads were very abrasive and I finished the loop with slick tyres on the car. Our rivals had trouble, now we need to finish the job tomorrow,” said Ogier.
Andreas Mikkelsen relegated Teemu Suninen to fourth but Suninen fought hard and brought his battle-scarred Ford Fiesta to the end of the leg only 9.8sec adrift of the Norwegian’s i20.
Dani Sordo was a lonely fifth in his i20, almost a minute adrift of Suninen and nearly 50sec clear of Jari-Matti Latvala’s Yaris.
Latvala moved ahead of team-mate Kris Meeke when the Briton spun this morning. Meeke moved back ahead in the penultimate stage, only to slide off the road in the final test on badly worn tyres and end 15.1sec behind the Finn.
Behind Neuville, Pontus Tidemand and WRC 2 leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz completed the leaderboard.
Sunday’s pocket-sized finale contains 38.62km spanning four tests. Two runs through the 7.05km Marmaris bookend the leg, the second pass forming the Wolf Power Stage with bonus points to the fastest five drivers.
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