Toyota’s Tänak secures second straight success
Ott Tänak (Toyota/Michelin) bounced back from his recent victory in Finland to win the 2018 ADAC Rallye Deutschland, ahead of Thierry Neuville (Hyundai/Miche...
The 2018 Rally Turkey saw Michelin LTX Force-equipped Toyota Yaris WRCs come first and second in the hands of winner Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala. Hyundai/Michelin’s Hayden Paddon completed the season’s roughest fixture in third spot. Michelin runners also monopolised the WRC2 podium.
Turkey’s return to the world rallying calendar provided the latest-generation World Rally Cars and Michelin’s LTX Force range of tyres with their toughest challenge yet on stages that were reminiscent of the former Acropolis and Cyprus Rallies.
The route visited the forested mountains that overlook the Mediterranean coastal resort Marmaris and the region’s rocky dirt roads were littered with big stones and gravel. To add to the torture, ground temperatures soared to more than 40°C.
The hard- and medium-compound Michelin LTX Force tyres shrugged off the punishment and incessant knocks, however, to prove more resilient even than the rims they were fitted to, and not a single puncture was reported as the planet’s most talented rally drivers battled for supremacy.
Even so, the conditions took their toll amongst the factory stars and five of the 12 factory cars were only able to reach the finish with the help of the Rally2 safety net.
Day 1 was dominated by championship pace-setters Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier who concluded Friday’s 146 kilometres split by just three-tenths of a second.
But it was the second leg that bit the hardest.
The casualty list opened when overnight leader Neuville was forced to limp to the end of SS8 with front-left suspension damage, while Ogier (Ford/Michelin) – who had inherited top spot – completed SS9 with a broken steering rod. The French crew managed to make repairs (incurring a six-minute penalty) but subsequently crashed out on SS11.
Meanwhile, Mads Ostberg (Citroën C3 WRC/Michelin) suffered turbo failure and Esapekka Lappi (Toyota/Michelin) went off. Two other victims of SS11 were Mikkelsen (Hyundai/Michelin), who reported a differential problem, and Craig Breen whose Citroën C3 WRC/Michelin was destroyed in a fire.
While all this was going on, Toyota Yaris WRC/Michelin pair Tänak and Latvala emerged relatively unscathed from the havoc to provide Toyota with its first one-two finish in the world championship since the 1998 Rally New Zealand. Tänak collected his third consecutive victory to become the first driver to notch up three-in-a-row since Ogier in 2016.
The result has catapulted the Estonian to second place in the provisional Drivers’ standings, 13 points short of Neuville and 10 clear of Ogier who both had to content themselves with a haul of just five points in Turkey.
Michelin’s tyres overcame the conditions to monopolise the podium in WRC2, as well, thanks to Jan Kopecky (Skoda), Simone Tempestini (Citroën) and Chris Ingram (Skoda).
Probably the most impressive performance of weekend, however, was posted by Henning Solberg. The Norwegian ended up sixth overall and first in the RC2 class in a privately-entered Skoda Fabia R5 equipped with Michelin LTX Force H90 tyres.