After an eight-year break, Rally Turkey made a dramatic return to the WRC calendar last weekend, delivering one of the most exciting – and unpredictable – plotlines in recent history.
In the first of our two-part debrief, we look at some of the stand-out moments from Turkey’s thrilling comeback.
You’ll never believe it
When smoke started to fill the cockpit of Craig Breen’s Citroën C3 on Saturday afternoon, a mild panic quickly ensued. While Breen kept his eyes on the road, it fell to co-driver Scott Martin to take control of the developing situation in a remarkable feat of multi-tasking.
As well as calling pace notes, Scott tried to trace the source of the smoke and communicate with the team via text message. As if that wasn’t enough to keep him occupied, a lack of signal in the car meant Scott had to wave the phone through his open door to try and find some service.
One to forget
Turkey will probably be off the menu at Thierry Neuville’s house this Christmas. The series leader began Saturday’s leg in first place, and on course for a maximum points haul.
But that was before broken suspension forced him out for the day, sending him plunging down the standings.
He managed to salvage five points at the Live Power Stage, but this was scant consolation for somebody who believed he had the pace to win the event outright.
Quote of the rally
It’s rare for Sébastien Ogier to make a mistake of any sort behind the wheel of a World Rally Car, but in Turkey the M-Sport Ford driver made what he considered to be one of his very worst.
As we wrote yesterday, the Frenchman ran wide in SS11 and retired after beaching his Fiesta in soft ground. His frustration was evident when talking to WRC+ All Live afterwards.
“One of the most silly mistakes I’ve done in my career,” was his blunt assessment. It was a brutally honest verdict from a man that now has a huge amount of work to do to retain his title.
Driver of the rally
While it’s right to acknowledge Ott Tänak’s rally-winning performance, we’re going to nominate Elfyn Evans as the winner of this category.
When his team-mate Ogier hit trouble on Saturday, and was struggling to replace a front-suspension wishbone after SS9, Evans was on the scene in a flash to offer his assistance.
An accomplished mechanic, he helped to communicate with the team, relaying information back and forth, to enable Ogier to complete the job. Back in service (below), Evans then helped to fettle his own car, allowing his mechanics to join the effort to fix Ogier’s.
As if that wasn’t enough, he later took a time penalty to allow the Frenchman to move into the points, sacrificing his own result in the process. A fine display of sportsmanship.