For the first time since the 2010 season, Turkey returns to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar with this year’s Rally Turkey. Based in Marmaris, a totally new location, the 17-stage event has replaced Rally Poland on this year’s calendar, and is also a return to loose surface racing after last month’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland, the second and final tarmac rally of the year.
With an intriguing championship battle shaping up in the final four rounds of the season, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will take home this year’s title. That said, the performances of these three crews in relation to one another over the weekend will play a major part in determining that:
#5 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul :: Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT :: Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Coming off a second place finish and fifth straight top five result in the rally-ending Power Stage, Hyundai’s top crew is riding all the momentum coming into Turkey. But Rounds 10 and 11 of the 2017 season were where they bit the dust, finishing 44th in Germany and retiring in Spain. But the Belgian crew already have done their best to put any leftover gremlins from last year behind them, having placed second at ADAC Rallye Deutschland to extend their points lead.
#1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia :: M-Sport Ford WRT :: Ford Fiesta WRC
The top finishers of all active WRC competitors in the most recent Turkish WRC event in 2010, Ogier and Ingrassia finished fourth while driving for Citroen in their second season at the world championship level. They could use a big weekend right about now, as they currently sit second in points, 23 behind Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul. Having missed the podium in each of the past two events, a win would go a long way toward eating away at that deficit as they pursue their sixth championship in a row.
#8 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja :: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT :: Toyota Yaris WRC
Winners of the last two rallies, Tänak and Järveoja have found themselves within sight of Ogier and Ingrassia for second place in the standings, ranking just 13 points back of their former M-Sport Ford teammates. The Toyota crew has only missed the points twice in nine tries this season, ranking second in the series with five podiums, and their three victories are equal to what both Neuville/Gilsoul and Ogier/Ingrassia have earned so far in 2018. They’re poised to strike if their title rivals slip.