Thursday | 10 Sep 2020

Rally rewind: Turkey 2019

Twelve months ago the battle for the FIA World Rally Championship drivers’ title took another huge twist amid the blistering heat and rocky roads of Rally Turkey. We look back at the moments that mattered from the Turquoise Coast.

1. Citroën celebrations
Three weeks before Turkey, Citroën Racing was in the depths of despair after struggling through Rallye Deutschland with severe understeer on its C3s. Fast forward and Sébastien Ogier and Esapekka Lappi delivered the French squad’s first 1-2 since Argentina 2015.

Ogier took most of the plaudits as he rekindled his title defence with an audacious tyre gamble on Saturday morning, before controlling the rally throughout the second half.

Lappi was equally impressive, leading from Friday morning until a small mistake allowed his colleague to edge ahead.

Video: Rally Turkey - top 5 highlights

2. Tänak’s title blow
Turkey was the opportunity for Ott Tänak to lay a few fingers, if not one hand, on the drivers’ title. A 33-point pre-event lead meant another dominant result for the WRC’s man of the moment would leave rivals Thierry Neuville and Ogier with a mountain to climb.

It didn’t work out that way. Opening the roads handicapped him throughout Friday, a puncture cost more time and then ECU failure in his Toyota Yaris on Saturday sidelined him for the rest of the day.

He salvaged maximum bonus points from the Wolf Power Stage after an audacious gamble to run throughout Sunday morning with no spare wheel in a bid to save weight. But that 33- point lead was slashed to 17 as the message from Ogier was ‘hands off my trophy’.

Sunday in Turkey: Ogier win rekindles title bid

Sunday in Turkey: Ogier win ...

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3. Déjà vu for Neuville
Saturday’s opening Yeşilbelde speed test was not for the faint-hearted. It twisted and turned through 33km and not until the midpoint did drivers encounter a straight worthy of the name.

Neuville started it trailing Ogier by seven-tenths. Almost half an hour later he crossed the finish more than 4min 40sec adrift of his title rival after sliding his Hyundai i20 off the road and onto its side. The Belgian was left to reflect on a pivotal moment in the title fight.

Twelve months earlier his hopes of a maiden crown suffered a massive blow when his front left suspension mounting punched through the bonnet in the same stage.


Stunning scenery but tough conditions - that was Rally Turkey 2019

4. Tough times
Intense heat. Rock-strewn mountain tracks. Heavy rain. Friday in Turkey was about as tough as it gets in the WRC. Keeping the right foot firmly planted on the floor was not an option if you wanted to be in the podium fight two days later.

5. Greensmith’s lucky escape
When WRC 2 Pro leader Gus Greensmith launched his Ford Fiesta R5 into a tree after the flying finish of the penultimate Çiçekli stage, his hopes of securing the support category win looked bleak. Ingenuity, determination not to be beaten and a good old-fashioned heavy right foot were the mix that got the car back on the road and ensured maximum points.

• Full coverage from Rally Turkey will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.