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GP Week : Issue 78
More problems for Ford in Turkey nearly resulted in another 1-2-3 result for Citroen and dwindling hopes for the blue oval team in the world championship title race. Jari-Matti Latvala went off the road on the second day and, when Mikko Hirvonen had hopes of snatching a second place, he slid off the road and punctured. But with two stages to go, Citroen Total lost their number two driver, Dani Sordo, and Ford suddenly realised it had its rivals had only pulled out one extra championship point. Strangely enough, it was the Citroen Junior team of Ogier and Raikkonen which scored the most points on this event! Rally of Turkey was indeed an unusual event. Run again in the WRC after a year's gap, this year it provided the first WRC event which included both asphalt and gravel stages. Ford came to Turkey knowing that the newly-selected region for the rally would feature mixed stage surfaces, but no- one realised just how many huge stones would proliferate the stages. These stones would test not only the structural strength of Pirelli's single supply tyres (incidentally manufactured in Turkey, close to the region of the rally) but also the strength of the bodywork of the cars. Once again there was the popular interloper in the Citroen and Ford team battle, this being the privateer team of Petter Solberg, fresh from its confidence boosting second place in Mexico and third place in Jordan. Petter led the rally initially, then settled down in fourth position before rising on Day 2 to second. Hirvonen looked set to pass Solberg on the final day but then the Finn punctured and dropped back. There was widespread tension before the start of the rally. The FIA had been prevaricating on the subject of the team tactics which were prevalent in Jordan. However, officials had no idea what it was that they found unsatisfactory, and even less of an idea how to express their evident disapproval. They issued a meaningless communique speaking about the powers of the Stewards to punish unsporting behaviour, which simply increased the general confusion. And then they said that the promised April 16 deadline for announcing the 2011 WRC calendar had come and gone without decisions. But when the rally got going, things were fine. There was never a murmur about team orders. The nature of the stages meant that running order was unusually insignificant on this occasion, but Citroen rose to the occasion in another way. Its team drivers experimented with fitting ready-worn tyres on the second day, to help give them better handling on the stages which had tarmac surface content. A puncture eventually undid Miko Hirvonen's challenge 36