Day two of WRC Rally Turkey started off badly for reigning champion and recent Rally Estonia victors Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) after a steering system fault cost the pair valuable time on Friday, the opening day, causing them to pull out. Tänak also expressed his dissatisfaction to race organizers over the amount of dust thrown up by the cars.
"Earning my first victory over Hyundai in Estonia was really special, but now we have to focus on the next stage," Tänak, who won Rally Turkey in 2018 for Toyota, had said ahead of race weekend via a team press release.
"The WRC season is short this year, so we have to make the most of every opportunity," he added. Rally Estonia two weeks ago marked a return of the series with the first race to take place since Mexico in February; there are only two more planned races, Rally Sardinia and Rally Belgium, after races in Germany, Wales and Japan have also joined the list of COVID-19-related casualties.
Rally Turkey, held on tracks in the Marmaris region on the southwestern corner of that country, remains a challenge, however, Tänak said: "The Turkish rally is without a doubt the most difficult stage of the season. It is always very hot and it is difficult for both the car and the team. Our goal is to fight for the victory and continue the hunt for the World Cup title."
Going into day two, Tänak's teammates, veteran driver Sebastian Loeb (France), and Thierry Neuville (Belgium) were in the lead, however, though the latter was onlu 0.1 seconds ahead of Toyota rival and six-time world champion Sebastien Ogier (Toyota).
Tänak was in seventh place following the technical mishap.
Following the four tests on Saturday, the leaderboard had changed to see Ogier in first place, three seconds ahead of Neuville. Welshman Elfyn Evans was third in the Toyota Yaris, followed by Loeb who had fallen to fourth, and Finn Kalle Rovanperä in fifth.
The event is the third in Turkey to take place in consecutive seasons and the fifth in the coronavirus-benighted 2020 season.
Tänak also had complaints about the dust on-track, lodged officially with FIA officials.
"There's been a lot of discussion about dust. Usually a safe ride is promoted, but I don't know what these people think. It's disappointing," he said Friday.
One solution would have been to lengthen the intervals at which drivers start their stages Saturday, ERR's sports portal reports, from the current three minutes to four or five. However, this would mean that later starters would likely be driving in the dark towards the end of the day.
Other hazards are temperatures in excess of 30C, and rocks, Tänak said.
Stages still to come Saturday are SS5 Kizlan (in progress at the time of writing) which is 15 km in length, followed by the 31.79-km stage 6 Yesilbelde stage, the seventh Datca stage (8.75 km) and SS8 at Kizlan again, 13.5 km this time.
Sunday sees four stages, starting at 7.30 a.m. and culminating in the SS12 Marmaris 2 6.22 km speed test at 1.18 p.m., which will be carried by ERR channel ETV with commentary in Estonian.
Sunday may see rain in Marmaris.
Editor: Andrew Whyte