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GP Week : Issue 14
technical changes in time for Germany. Assuming the weather is dry, the tracks in Turkey will be abrasive and rocky. If there is a lot of rain, the tracks can turn into quagmires, and in the past rains have brought the event to a stop. The weather in this coastal region is surprisingly volatile, and there is also a large variation in altitude, which affects the weather. Temperatures at the sea level service park in Kemer can be dramatically higher than on the stages. The stages go up to 1800 metres, much higher than the highest point in Rallye Monte Carlo. Tyre wise the new single compound Pirelli supply system is going to meet a new challenge. The difference in conditions on the stages between wet and dry conditions on this event is perhaps more extreme than on any other world championship rally. Playing safe, the FIA approved the Pirelli’s proposal to supply hard compound tyres to every crew whatever the weather. Teams are trying to remember everything they can about the event, because under the FIA rotation systems, Turkey was not included in the championship last year. Although this will happen again frequently in the future, the last time a world championship rally skipped a year and then came back again was in the event rotation years in the mid 1990s. All the top drivers have been here before, but Latvala, Sordo, Villagra and Wilson have only done the event once. This situation means that several of the current top line drivers have very little experience of the roads in Turkey. B acking up the world championship cars are the 22 competitors in the Production Car category The series is headed by Andreas Aigner, after his wins in Argentina and Greece. The main difference between the Acropolis and the Rally of Turkey is that privateer teams are back with a vengeance. In Greece there were only 15 non-priority drivers out of the 60 that started. This time, the list of privateers shows 37, virtually half the field. Among the privateers are, unusually, four drivers from Iran, three renting Fiat Palio cars from the local Delta Sport team, the fourth being one of 11 drivers on the event at the wheel of Ford Fiesta ST cars. After Turkey comes a seven-week break before the world championship resumes at the start of August in Finland. Fast for Fords: Marcus Gronholm won last time the WRC circus visited Turkey, and Ford is under plenty of pressure to repeat the success in ‘08. It’s a new car! Chris Atkinson, pictured above at Turkey in 2006, will have a brand new Subaru to play with this weekend. Meanwhile, Andrea Aigner, below, will be out to take another PCWRC win in Turkey. WRC PREVIEW >> 49