14 Jun 08
As co-driver to Henning Solberg, Cato Menkerud scored his first ever WRC podium when the Turkish Rally was last run in 2006.
This year the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team duo are looking for another good result, and lying second going into Saturday’s stages they’re right in the thick of the podium battle once again.
Cato spoke to wrc.com after the pre-event recce to describe each of this year’s stages.
Saturday’s stages in general
Today's roads are in the same region as Friday’s so they’re very similar in character. We’ll tackle six proper mountain stages before a second attempt at the Superspecial in Antalya. Looking at the whole day, the road cleaning effect might not be quite as bad as it was on Friday because only two of the countryside stages are fresh; all the others are repeats.
SS10/SS8 Chimera, 16.94km
The day begins with the repeat pass through the Chimera stage, first run on Friday afternoon. This is a good stage. It starts on tarmac for about 1km then goes uphill with a sequence of hairpins. We went off there in 2006 - it wasn’t a massive problem but it can happen! The middle section runs through a valley and passes some small farms - it’s a stunning looking place. There’s a jump at the 11km point which is good for the spectators. The stage ends with a downhill sprint through a forest.
SS11/SS13 Silyon, 27.36km
This stage starts twisty in a forest and then opens out to be a wider, faster piece of road. There’s a water splash on a tight left-hand corner at the 16km mark, and generally lots of loose gravel and rocks lying around. This stage could lead to a lot of punctures - especially on the repeat pass. The stage ends on some very quick tarmac in the same place as Kumluca (SS4/SS7) did on Friday.
SS12/SS14 Kemer, 20.50km
One of the closest stages to the service park, and one that’s good fun to drive. The first half is very wide and runs uphill with lots of fast sections and big open hairpins. Then it tightens a lot through the trees. There are a couple of watersplashes but they’re not so deep, so the photographers won’t get any Argentina pictures here. Later on the road widens and becomes very fast with a couple of jumps towards the end. After the jumps, and for the last couple of kilometers, the road heads out into a big valley and is fast like hell with massive sweeping bends all the way to the flying finish.
SS15/SS9 Phaselis, 22.40km
Another repeat, this time of the Phaselis stage first run on Friday. It’s a fast stage compared to all the rest. It’s mainly wide and open but tightens up towards the end. It’s a new stage for this year. Well, almost new. In fact three kilometers were used two years ago, and that section leads into another, longer part which was also run in 2006, but in the reverse direction. At one point this stage crosses SS2. It’s twisty all the way and you have to take care because some of the corners tighten awkwardly - they are very deceptive.
SS1/SS16 Antalya SSS, 2.6km
Saturday ends with the second, and last, visit to the Superspecial. The surface feels almost like tarmac but it’s actually hard gravel. I like it because it’s good for the spectators. It’s not a great drivers’ stage, but very few Superspecials are. We almost went off here in 2006; we started in the right-hand lane and nearly lost it on a crest - we know about that corner this time...