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GP Week : Issue 14
M ID-SEASON World Rally Championship excitement comes to Turkey next weekend, with Sebastien Loeb leading Mikko Hirvonen by a single point in the drivers title, and the BP Ford team just two points ahead of Citroen Total in the manufacturers battle, after the first seven of the 15 rounds in the series. However Ford may have hoped for a stronger lead in the championship at this point of the season, with three of the remaining seven events in the series to be run on asphalt stages where traditionally its rival Citroen are stronger. This is the fifth time Turkey has been included in the world championship and the event is again based at the Mediterranean resort town of Kemer, which, less than 50 years ago, was a simple village that could only be reached by sea. The rally starts at the grounds of the University, at the provincial capital city Antalya, where a superspecial will be held. The following three days will see stages held in the western foothills of the Taurus mountains, over tracks which provide a challenge very little different to those on the recent Acropolis Rally. Most of the cars entered by the top teams must, by regulation, have the same chassis and engines as in Greece. Exempted from this rule are the leading Stobart car (Galli), the number two car of the Subaru team (Atkinson), and the second Munchi’s car, as none of them finished that event. The second Munchis car, which was driven in Greece by Aris Vovos, will instead have Barry Clark at the wheel, who knows the car well having spent the Greek round working for the team as a mechanic (as well as being a team truck driver). After the end of the Acropolis event, Subaru, like Ford, also took its cars directly to Turkey, which restricted their ability thoroughly to examine the cars after their first event. A team spokesman explained: “Turkey for us is like the second part of our ongoing extended new car development programme, after competing with the cars in Greece.” On a technical front, this will be the last time the Suzuki SX4 WRCars will be in current specifications before updated specification cars appear in Finland, with Ford expected to be allowed to make 48