Rally Turkije 2008 - 13 t/m 15 juni 2008

De stand na dag 3:

Ford's Turkish delight as Hirvonen and Latvala seal 1-2 finish.

Master tactics paid dividends for BP Ford World Rally Team as it claimed a 1-2 finish on a thrilling Rally of Turkey today. Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen claimed their second win of the FIA World Rally Championship season in a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car to move back into the lead of the drivers standings by three points. Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila were just 7.9sec behind in another Focus RS as Ford extended its lead in the manufacturers' series to nine points.

The maximum points haul enabled Ford to create rallying history by scoring points on 100 consecutive rallies, a feat never achieved since the WRC was launched in 1973.

After dominating Friday's opening leg to hold first and second, Hirvonen and Latvala deliberately eased their pace in the final few metres to drop down the leaderboard to gain better road conditions yesterday. A lower start position meant they avoided the huge disadvantage of being first and second on roads covered by slippery loose gravel. Instead, they benefited from the cleaning process of the cars ahead, who swept stones from the surface to leave a cleaner and faster line on which to attack.

Ford's Finns rocketed back to first and second yesterday morning and attacked hard to build as big a lead as possible over championship rival Sébastien Loeb, who swept the roads, in third. Hirvonen and Latvala had the unwanted 'cleaning' role today, but the buffer was big enough to hold off a determined charge from Loeb during the final 31.03km speed test to claim the team's second 1-2 of the season.

This eighth round of the season was based in Kemer, a bustling holiday resort on Turkey's southern coast. Drivers tackled 19 special stages covering 360.12km in the Anatolian mountains which tower above the town. Air temperatures topped 34ºC while the thermometer reached 48ºC on the rocky gravel roads, which combined to provide a tough test for cars and Pirelli's Scorpion tyres.

A delighted Hirvonen described the weekend as 'amazing'. "I promised Malcolm Wilson I would lead the championship going into my home rally in Finland next month and I am. It was an incredibly hard weekend for drivers, cars and tyres and a great battle with Jari-Matti, which I'm so happy to win. It was the right moment for a win because we struggled on the last round in Greece and this is perfect timing. It feels very special to beat a four-time world champion in a straight fight," he said.

"Our tactics worked so well and I didn't panic this morning when I was first on the road and had to sweep the stages. This is my best result because it was such a big team effort. I was so nervous and drove so carefully in the final stage to preserve my tyres. It looks like it will be an exciting championship battle in the second half of the season. Now I just want to go home and see my sons," said 27-year-old Hirvonen, who felt ill throughout the rally and has been unable to eat.

Latvala was happy with second after losing almost a minute with two opening day punctures. "I came here wanting a top three finish so I'm pleased I was able to fight for victory. I lacked experience of these roads but that wasn't as big a disadvantage as I thought. We played good tactics and it was a big risk, but a good decision. I've learned to keep my driving tidy. I was kind on my tyres for the first half of the final stage and that paid off. This has given a major boost to my confidence," he said.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson collected the Abu Dhabi Spirit of the Rally Award on behalf of the team and presented it to Ford of Europe chairman Lewis Booth, a keen spectator here during the weekend. "Tactics won in the end and what our two young drivers did this weekend was nothing short of special. It was a brave decision to drop time on Friday but it proved the right one. I'm proud of the drivers and the team and it's a great way to end the first half of the season. It was the drive of Mikko's life and it's fantastic to lead both series going into the mid-season break. Days don't get much better than this," said Wilson.

Ford of Europe's motorsport director Mark Deans added: "The consistency required in achieving 100 consecutive points finishes is remarkable as the WRC is the toughest competition in motorsport for production-based cars. It demanded an outstanding blend of speed, strength and reliability from the Focus RS World Rally Car as well as some sterling performances from the drivers behind the wheel. It was a perfect weekend for the team and a great weekend for Ford, with six Focus cars in the top 10."

News from our Rivals

Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) took third but slipped to second in the drivers' standings with team-mate Dani Sordo claiming fourth. Sordo moved ahead of Stobart driver Henning Solberg (Ford) on the opening stage and the gap between the pair was just 8.1sec at the finish. Petter Solberg (Subaru) rounded off the top six ahead of Stobart driver Matthew Wilson (Ford). Ninth and 10th for Munchi's drivers Federico Villagra and Barry Clark (both Ford) was enough for the final manufacturers' points.

Next round

The championship pauses for a summer break and returns with Rally Finland, one of the year's classic events, on 31 July - 3 August. The gravel rally is based in Jyväskylä.

Final Leaderboard
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 4h42m07.1s
2. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS +7.9s
3. S Loeb/D Elena F Citroën C4 +25.7s
4. D Sordo/M Marti E Citroën C4 +2m25.6s
5. H Solberg/C Menkerud N Ford Focus RS +2m33.7s
6. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza +2m48.2s
7. M Wilson/S Martin GB Ford Focus RS +4m24.2s
8. C Rautenbach/D Senior ZIM Citroën C4 +7m46.7s
9. F Villagra/J Pérez Companc RA Ford Focus RS +9m34.1s
10. B Clark/P Nagle GB Ford Focus RS +14m48.8s

Bron: M-Sport

De stand na dag 2:

Hirvonen and Latvala capitalise on tactical ploy to lead in Turkey
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team took full advantage of last night's bold tactical manoeuvre to take control of the Rally of Turkey during today's second leg. Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen sped over the tricky gravel tracks in the south to lead this eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship by 16.1sec in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila lie second in a similar Focus RS with just one leg remaining of this four-day event.

After dominating the opening leg to hold first and second, both Ford drivers deliberately eased their pace near the end of the final speed test to ensure a better start position today. By dropping down the leaderboard, Hirvonen and Latvala forced other drivers, including championship rival Sébastien Loeb, to start ahead of them. As a result they enjoyed the benefits of roads swept clear of slippery gravel by those ahead, leaving a cleaner and faster line for their Focus RS cars to exploit.

Both attacked hard to build a lead over Loeb which they will take into tomorrow's shortest leg. Although Loeb will have the advantage of cleaner roads tomorrow, Ford's Finns will hope that the advantage they earned will see them through the final 67.56km of competition. Hirvonen leads third-placed Loeb by 34.2sec with Latvala 18.1sec ahead of the Frenchman.

Today's action was again played out in the towering Anatolian mountains, which provide a stunning backdrop to the holiday resort of Kemer where the rally is based. Beaches and bikinis were far from the thoughts of Hirvonen and Latvala though, who tackled another seven rough and rocky speed tests covering 137.66km. Air temperatures touched 34ºC while the mercury reached 48ºC on the ground, providing a tough challenge for Pirelli's Scorpion tyres.

Hirvonen restarted in fifth and fastest time on the opening two special stages ensured last night's move paid dividends as the 27-year-old rocketed back to the top of the leaderboard. Latvala, third overnight, had slightly worse conditions than his colleague but the 23-year-old also capitalised on the tactical masterstroke to climb to second on the opening loop. Both concentrated during the afternoon on building as big a lead as possible over Loeb to take into the final leg. Hirvonen won four and Latvala one of the seven stages.

"I was hoping for a bigger lead," said Hirvonen. "Thirty-four seconds over Loeb is good but 40sec would have been comfortable. Both Jari-Matti and Loeb will be tough to beat but I'm more worried about Jari-Matti. I have to realistic. I came here to regain the championship lead and that's my main aim for tomorrow. That's more important to me than winning this rally.

"I'm first on the road tomorrow so all I can do is drive flat out and hope for the best. It could be a great three-way battle. Starting first isn't my strongest point but I spoke with Marcus Grönholm last week and asked his advice about driving first on the road. He told me to remove it from my mind and just get on with driving normally. Loeb did well in that position and I need to learn how to do that, but today wasn't the day for that," added Hirvonen.

Latvala is also relishing the battle. "Tomorrow will have lots of hard driving, maximum concentration and plenty of effort to try to keep Loeb behind. I'm both a team-mate and competitor with Mikko and I would like to win this rally. I'm not here just to cruise but I must also remember that I mustn't put the car off the road. Mikko will be first in the start order so it won't be easy for him while Loeb will attack from behind and will be very fast. The long stage will be tough for me as I will only have Mikko's line to follow," he said.

"He has been driving so fast that I've not been able to ease off. I had it on my mind all day that I didn't want to be first on the road tomorrow. Because of the speed of Mikko and Loeb, I couldn't ease off and there was no chance for me to use tactics tonight," added Latvala.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson was delighted with his drivers. "Mikko and Jari-Matti have given themselves the best opportunity of scoring a great result tomorrow. They have both done the best job they could today and our position tonight emphasises that last night's tactical decision was the right one. There are more than 60km of stages tomorrow, including two runs over the longest test of the rally, and Mikko and Jari-Matti must clean the roads so it will be a fascinating day," he said.

News from our Rivals

Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) had the unwanted role of cleaning the stages all day but after slipping to fourth this morning, he regained a place this afternoon. Henning Solberg (Ford) holds fourth after spending the day familiarising himself with a new gearbox. Dani Sordo (Citroen) is fifth, despite dropping 40sec with a rear left puncture on this morning's second stage. Petter Solberg (Subaru) rounds off the top six. Stobart driver Gigi Galli (Ford) was fighting with Loeb for a top three position but the Italian dropped nearly four minutes with boost valve failure in the turbo and he is now eighth. There were just two major retirements. Per-Gunnar Andersson (Suzuki) stopped in stage 11 with electrical problems and team-mate Toni Gardemeister retired in the same test with a broken radiator. Neither will restart tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s Route

The final day is the shortest of the event but no less tough than the previous two. After leaving Kemer at 08.30, drivers tackle just three stages covering 67.56km in the same area as today. However, two of those tests are the 31.03km Olympos, the longest of the rally. The finish is in Kemer at 14.50.

Day 2 Leaderboard
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 3h47m37.8s
2. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS +16.2s
3. S Loeb/D Elena F Citroën C4 +34.3s
4. H Solberg/C Menkerud N Ford Focus RS +2m08.5s
5. D Sordo/M Marti E Citroën C4 +2m15.1s
6. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza +2m33.7s
7. M Wilson/S Martin GB Ford Focus RS +3m41.2s
8. G Galli/G Bernacchini I Ford Focus RS +5m20.1s
9. C Rautenbach/D Senior ZIM Citroën C4 +6m08.6s
10. F Villagra/J Pérez Companc RA Ford Focus RS +7m43.8s

Bron: M-Sport

De stand na dag 1:

Ford drivers play tactical mastercard after dominating in Turkey

BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team controlled today's opening leg of the Rally of Turkey with a masterful blend of speed and strategy. Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen and team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila held the top two positions in Ford Focus RS World Rally Cars throughout a tough day's driving in the south of the country. Both then deliberately eased their pace in the final few metres to drop down the leaderboard to earn a more favourable start position tomorrow.

Hirvonen, who led for most of the day, dropped to fifth while Latvala lies third. Each will be handed those positions in the start order tomorrow and so avoid the huge disadvantage of being first and second over roads covered by slippery loose gravel. They will benefit from the cleaning process of the cars ahead, who will sweep the stones from the surface to leave a clearer and faster line from which Hirvonen and Latvala hope to benefit.

This eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship roared into action in Antalya last night with a show speed test in the grounds of the university. The competition began for real today when drivers tackled eight more special stages on demanding gravel roads in the Anatolian mountains, which tower above the rally base in the holiday resort of Kemer, on the edge of the Mediterranean. They faced 154.90km of competition in total, and while conditions in the mountains were cooler, shade temperatures in Kemer touched a roasting 32ºC.

Hirvonen was second in the start order and built a 6.9sec lead over Latvala on the opening loop of three stages. Although Latvala moved ahead briefly during the second loop, Hirvonen moved back into top spot and the 27-year-old led his colleague by 2.0sec going into the final 22.40km test. As soon as championship rival Sébastien Loeb, running first in the start order, reached the finish, the team advised Hirvonen of the time in which he needed to complete the stage so as to drop behind the Frenchman on the leaderboard.

The Finn slowed just before the finish line and watched almost 20sec pass before completing the test. Four drivers moved ahead of him, to give Hirvonen a perfect position from which to attack tomorrow.

"It's a risk to do this because we haven't won anything yet and there are only two stages for Loeb to clean tomorrow, but these are better circumstances for me than being first on the road," he said. "If I had been leading tomorrow, I don't think I would have been able to keep him behind me because my 14sec advantage wouldn't have been enough. The plan now is to attack hard and build a big enough lead to take into the final day. I'm sure Loeb will fight hard, but I feel confident.

"He drove well in his start position and there's a lot for me to learn from him today. Even though my driving style is more sideways than his, there was still a cleaner line for me to follow. I was able to both drive quickly and control the situation when I needed to tonight. My only problem was dust in the car. About 7km from the end of the third stage there was a large impact under the car and it quickly filled with dust.
The impact made a hole under the floor behind Jarmo's seat and it was hard to see. We needed to block it up because it was like a sandstorm!"

After lying fourth overnight, Latvala punctured a front right tyre on the opening stage to lose 30sec and slip to 14th. However, he set a stunning fastest time in the next Myra test, more than 15sec quicker than his closest rival, to climb to third and amazingly took second on the next stage. "I hit a sharp loose rock about 12km after the start and the tyre went down immediately," said Latvala. "There are many loose rocks and it's important to leave a safety margin in the bends, but I slid wide coming over a crest into a right corner and clipped the rock," he explained.

Latvala blitzed the Myra stage for a second time this afternoon to take the lead but another front right puncture in the following test cost 15sec and allowed Hirvonen back in front. The 23-year-old Finn copied Hirvonen's tactics on the final stage to drop from second to third, just 1.1sec behind Loeb. "The team strategy was to not be first in the order tomorrow. It's not easy there in these conditions, I don't like it and I didn't want to be there. You need experience to perform that role well and I don't have that. The plan was to be in front of Mikko and I feel very satisfied tonight," he said.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson reflected on a successful opening day. "It was a superb performance from the team. Both drivers drove brilliantly to enable us to put a strategy into place which they executed to perfection. We now have a great start position for both drivers," he said.

News from our Rivals
Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) set two fastest times en route to an unwanted lead, just 1.0sec ahead of Henning Solberg (Ford). Behind Latvala is Stobart driver Gigi Galli (Ford), the Italian also slowing on the final stage to gain a better position. He won three stages. Petter Solberg (Subaru) holds sixth despite broken front right suspension this afternoon. Dani Sordo (Citroen) was fifth until a rear left puncture and suspension damage on stage seven cost nearly a minute and he is eighth. Urmo Aava (Citroen) was fastest on today's opening stage but retired after damaging his car's suspension on the next test while Chris Atkinson (Subaru) retired from ninth this afternoon with broken front suspension.

Tomorrow’s Route
The second day revisits the same territory in the maze of roads that zig-zag through the Anatolian mountains. After restarting at 08.30, drivers face seven stages covering 137.66km before returning to Kemer for the final overnight halt at 20.59. The last test is a second pass over the super special stage at Antalya's Akdeniz University.

Leaderboard after Day 1
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 2hr 02min 35.2sec
2. H Solberg/C Menkerud NOR Ford Focus RS 2hr 02min 36.2sec
3. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 02min 36.3sec
4. G Galli/G Bernacchini ITA Ford Focus RS 2hr 02min 37.4sec
5. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 02min 42.1sec
6. P Solberg/P Mills NOR Subaru Impreza 2hr 03min 24.3sec
7. M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS 2hr 03min 41.1sec
8. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 2hr 03min 42.0sec
9. T Gardemeister/T Tuominen FIN Suzuki SX4 2hr 05min 02.3sec
10 C Rautenbach/D Senior ZIM Citroen C4 2hr 05min 25.2sec

Bron: M-Sport

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