18 Apr 10
Aaron Burkart survived a late scare to open his Junior World Rally Championship bid with victory on Rally of Turkey.
The 27-year-old from Germany led from the fourth stage of the demanding gravel rally in his works Suzuki Swift Super 1600 for his second win in the young driver class. The result also meant he secured his first world drivers’ championship point by claiming tenth overall.
However, triumph almost turned to despair for Burkart when his Suzuki’s powersteering failed close to the end of the penultimate stage. “I was two kilometres from the end of stage 22 and there was not any time before the next stage to make repairs so I had to do that stage with no powersteering,” said Burkart, who was reunited with co-driver Andre Kachel after a seven-year break.
“It was very tough getting through the bumpy sections because the steering movement was so great and it was difficult to hold on through the chicanes and hairpins.”
Asked whether he thought he would lose out on victory as a result of his late drama, Burkart said: “I had a gap of four and a half minutes so I knew it would still be okay but I was relieved when I got to the finish. For a Tarmac driver like me it’s great to win on gravel. It would have been nice to have had more of a battle but this is a great start to my season and I’m very happy.”
After surviving brake and suspension problems earlier in the rally, Alessandro Broccoli took second in class in his Renault Clio R3, despite the car’s front suspension failing during the closing stages.
Kevin Abbring, who lost more than 11 minutes with an electrical fault, claimed third in his similar Clio after his new MCC Sport team identified the cause of the brake problem that struck on stage 20.
“It was actually some stones getting under the bolts,” said the Dutchman. “Fortunately there was no problem in the afternoon. It was disappointing that we couldn’t challenge for the win here having led after three stages due to the electrical problem we had but I enjoyed the final day because I liked the roads and had a good feeling.”
Todor Slavov, from Bulgaria, took fourth in his Clio with Briton Harry Hunt bagging fifth, and the Fiesta SportTrophy International honours in his Fiesta R2, following an impressive drive on his second world championship rally.
Slavov feared his rally was over when he holed his car’s sump on Friday’s final stage. Fortunately his engine wasn’t too badly damaged and he was able to restart under SupeRally regulations on day two. Starter motor and exhaust system glitches also slowed Slavov who said he was relieved to have finished.
Like Slavov, Estonian Karl Kruuda also needed SupeRally to finish the event after being forced to retire on Saturday when his Suzuki suffered a broken driveshaft.
Belgian Thierry Neuville was 7.5 seconds behind Burkart at the end of the opening day but went no further than Saturday’s first stage when his Citroen C2 Super 1600 suffered a differential failure. With no spare available Neuville was forced to retire.
Follow this link to see the J-WRC standings after Rally of Turkey.