MARMARIS (TURKEY): Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul drew first blood with the fastest time on the Shakedown stage at Rally Turkey on Thursday morning.
The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC crew posted a quickest time of 3min 24.9sec to finish the session 1.6 seconds in front of Ford’s defending multiple champion Sébastien Ogier
The short five-kilometre stage at Değirmenyani provided teams with a crucial opportunity to check various suspension and differential settings, especially bearing in mind that this event is a new addition to the FIA World Rally Championship.
Belgian driver Neuville signed a new three-year deal with Hyundai on the eve of shakedown and the World Championship leader carded an opening run of 3min 39.9sec.
Ogier was a mere one tenth of a second slower, as first blood on the first pass went to Østberg with a time of 3min 35.7sec and Tänak struggled around 19 seconds slower after stalling his Toyota Yaris.
Ogier destroyed his opening time on a cleaning surface with a second pass of 3min 31.1sec and that was soon surpassed by Lappi’s flying run of 3min 30.2sec, as some crews returned to service to make tweaks to the set-up before heading back to the shakedown stage.
Tänak posted a delayed second run of 3min 31.0sec to slide into second place. Andreas Mikkelsen suffered transmission issues and his i20 had to be removed from the stage after the Norwegian had posted a first run of 3min 38.7sec.
Evans was the first of the factory drivers to post a third time and the Welshman stormed to the top of the rankings with a potent 3min 29.3sec. Latvala left it late to post his second run and the Finn hit the front with a time three-tenths quicker than last year’s Wales Rally GB winner. His advantage was short-lived, however, and Tänak shaved four-tenths off Latvala’s time to hit the front.
Neuville and Ogier showed their pedigree soon afterwards, however, and benefited from a cleaning road surface to post the quickest times, the Belgian leading the way with a 3min 24.9sec flyer.
As the WRC 2 drivers took to the stage, the sky darkened and thunder crackled across the mountains, with a sudden thundery rain shower starting to fall briefly towards the end of the session.
2018 Rally Turkey – Shakedown times @ 13.14hrs:
1. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3min 24.9sec
2. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC 3min 26.5sec
3. Jari-Matti Latvala(FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC 3min 27.0sec
4. Ott Tänak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) Toyota Yaris WRC 3min 28.6sec
5. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Daniel Barrit (GBR) Ford Fiesta WRC 3min 29.3sec
6. Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC 3min 29.4sec
7. Craig Breen (IRL)/Scott Martin (GBR) Citroën C3 WRC 3min 31.6sec
8. Mads Østberg (NOR)/Torstein Eriksen (NOR) Citroën C3 WRC 3min 31.6sec
9. Teemu Suninen (FIN)/Mikko Markkula (FIN) Ford Fiesta WRC 3min 31.8sec
10. Hayden Paddon (NZL)/Sebastian Marshall (GBR) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3min 32.9sec