LESSONS LEARNED FOR THE FUTURE
7th Rally Turkey, from 13 to 16 September 2018
Despite once again being competitive, unfortunately the C3 WRC – like many of its rivals – suffered in this weekend's brutal conditions, its habitual strength sorely tested by the constant damage caused by the incredibly rough stages.
THE STORY OF THE RACE
This was a weekend of firsts: the first Rally Turkey to be held at the new Marmaris hub in the championship and the first time that Craig Breen had led a WRC round. The Irishman was the quickest out of the blocks on Friday on the opening stage’s thirty-eight kilometres plus. His calm and measured approach ensured he then made it to the end of the morning loop in second place, just 6.3s behind the leader, closely followed by Mads Østberg in third, 8.2s off the pace and who had also made a fine start. The Norwegian had in particular set the second fastest time on SS3, just 2.1s behind the championship leader over almost twenty-two kilometres. However, despite taking great care to avoid the most substantial obstacles, both crews then suffered the misfortune of picking up punctures during the afternoon loop. Whilst Breen fell back to eighth position after two punctures, Østberg, still running fifth at the time, retired for the day when the rough conditions ended up breaking a suspension arm and a turbo failure meant Khalid Al Qassimi also had to call it a day. However, the roads proved to be even harder on Saturday’s leg for the new generation WRCs, the endurance of which had never been tested to this extent since their introduction last year. Unfortunately, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT did not escape unscathed. It has to be said that the roads broke up very quickly, unable to withstand the power of the WRCs, with sharp stones and other embedded rocks appearing on the surface. Mads Østberg had to stop with a turbo issue whilst Craig Breen, who had climbed back up to sixth overall despite his unfavourable road position (2nd), had to retire from the rally after his car burst into flames and burned out. The rally ended on a more positive note on Sunday, however, with three consecutive second fastest times for Mads Østberg, whilst Khalid Al Qassimi secured a few manufacturers’ championship points.