WRC » 2 March 2003
Sainz takes 25th WRC win in Turkey.
Toni Gardemeister's Skoda Octavia WRC ran without any mechanical problems through the final leg of the event. A precautionary gearbox change at the end of the second leg forced Gardemeister to run with longer gear ratios through today's five stages. There were no problems with the transmission, but the Finn felt the ratios were too long for the twisty roads. He spun his Octavia twice on the third stage of the day, but enjoyed a clean run through the final two stages of the day.
Gardemeister said: ''I did a little damage to the car today. After I spun, I reversed into a tree and dented the back bumper! I really wasn't driving so well in stage 16. I don't know what it was, it just didn't feel right - I was driving like my grandmother. I needed to go quicker, but there was nothing I could do to keep Markko Martin behind me. I've got to the finish of the rally with some points for myself and for the team, though - that's good.''
At Subaru meanwhile Tommi Makinen's car suffered a minor gearbox problem on the third stage of the day, other than that it was mechanically sound.
Makinen started and finished the day in eighth place overall. The four-times world champion enjoyed a trouble-free day for the most part, save for the gearbox glitch, which lasted a couple of minutes after the third stage. He made up one minute on seventh-placed Gardemeister, but still ended the day two minutes off the Skoda driver after loosing a lot of time with suspension trouble on the second day.
Makinen said: ''The gearbox was a little strange. We went through a watersplash and then it started to do its own thing. I was in second gear and accelerating hard and it just selected fifth gear. It was being crazy like this for a few kilometres, then it sorted itself out. It's good to finish this event, it was much tougher than we expected. It's disappointing for me that before the problems we were making some good times.''
David Lapworth, Subaru team boss, added: ''Obviously we're disappointed with the result, but we're pleased with many aspects of our performance and we go away from here full of confidence ahead of New Zealand. It's been a well-run event, which showed that it deserved a place in the FIA World Rally Championship.''
Petter Solberg retired the other Impreza on Friday with a broken track rod end.
At Hyundai the turbo on Freddy Loix's car, was slowly losing power through the final day, otherwise it was mechanically fine. Armin Schwarz went out yesterday in the very first stage when his suspension failed.
When Loix suffered a blown turbo at the end of the second leg, the team was forced to refit his car with the turbo he'd used on the opening loop of stages on day one. Loix admitted that this compromised performance, but the team had no other choice. Loix started the day ninth, but dropped back one place when Gronholm passed him on the penultimate stage of the day, losing the final manufacturer's point in the process.
Loix said: ''Obviously the team wanted me to try and hold Marcus off, but there is really nothing I could do when I am using the same turbo I started the rally with. The car was down on power, which makes the job very hard to do.''
Of the other entries Kosti Katajamaki won his first ever round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship today. The Volkswagen driver suffered a clutch problem for much of the day, but he was able to drive around it on the stages. He admitted that he wasn't pushing as hard through the final day, given that he held a two-minute lead over Guy Wilks [Ford Puma].
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