WRC » 28 February 2003
Rovanpera no Turkey on leg one.
Schwarz said: ''When I started to smell the smoke coming on the fourth stage I thought straight away that it was the same problem as on Rally GB. I thought it was going to be a fire and we were going to have to stop. In the end it was okay. These stages do suit the car a little better than the ones we've had in the championship before.''
Loix continued: ''Once the team changed the turbo after first service the car was better, but then the turbo went right near the finish of the final stage. We were lucky this happened near the finish, we didn't lose much time. The suspension wasn't right at all this morning, the fluid went out of the dampers and we were driving the car on the bump stops and sump guard. It wasn't easy to drive like that.''
Toni Gardemeister's Skoda Octavia WRC ran without any major problems. Didier Auriol retired on the way into the day's final service engine failure. The team had been concerned about the water temperature after SS4 and the engine problem is believed to be linked to this.
Gardemeister was the quickest Octavia through the opening day, but the Finn made it quite clear that he was no fan of this rally. He smacked a rock with the back end of the Octavia on the opening loop and knocked the tracking out. From then on he said he was just trying to avoid the rocks which had been pulled out by the cars ahead.
Gardemeister held tenth place overnight, just 8.8 seconds ahead of his team-mate Auriol. Auriol felt that the four days he'd spent testing the car prior to the event hadn't been entirely representative of the conditions he was greeted with in Turkey. The former world champion made changes to the car and pronounced himself happier, but then retired with engine problems after SS6.
Gardemeister said: ''I think it is a bit stupid to be driving here. The roads are very bad, there are rocks all over the place. I must have hit 100 big rocks today, this is knocking the car about quite badly. We didn't have any mechanical problems with the car, but we have had some punctures. Not good.''
Of the other entries just as he did on round one, Suzuki Ignis driver Daniel Carlsson leads the way after the opening leg's stages.
It was round one winner, Brice Tirabassi who stole the march on the superspecial stage last night. The Renault driver crashed out on the third stage, however. Carlsson was already out front by then and would continue to set a blistering pace through the Friday stages to open up a comfortable lead over Kosti Katajamaki's Volkswagen Polo. Marcos Ligato was just 3.5s off the back of the Finn, placing his Fiat Punto in third place at the end of leg one.
Among the non-works World Rally Cars, Gilles Panizzi was in fifth place overnight. His 206 WRC had run without any problems through the opening leg and the Frenchman was enjoying his first trip to Turkey. Fellow Peugeot driver Juuso Pykalisto rolled on the third stage, having scored a third fastest time in SS2. He lost four minutes while the car was put back on his wheels and ended the leg 22nd.
Rally statistics - Leg 1:
Starters: 58 crews (53 Group A and 5 Group N) actually started this morning.
Retirements: Loeb (F), Solberg (N), Hirvonen (FIN), Auriol (F) and 15 other drivers.
Today - Friday 28 February: The second part of Leg One started from Kemer at 08h00 and covered 344.19km, including 93.80km on five stages. With one Superspecial Stage of 1.55km run yesterday, after the ceremonial start, the first leg totals are 389.55km, including 93.35 on six stages.
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