Ford Fiesta S2000 to Tackle Turkey
Two Ford Fiesta S2000s will make their way to Turkey next week for the fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). The event will see Dutchman Dennis Kuipers go head to head with Turkish driver Yagiz Avci for what is expected to
be a good battle with local S2000 crews.
The Rally of Turkey will be based in a new location this year, moving from Antalya in the south-west region to Istanbul in the cooler north. This will a unique event in the WRC calendar as the race will start in Europe but over the course of the three day event the route will also cross over into Asia.
The roads of the special stages based on the Asian side of Istanbul will be fast, wide and smooth. The rally organisers have chosen to take advantage of a new FIA regulation for 2010 permitting mixed surface events, so the predominantly gravel route contains almost 50km of asphalt, which will concentrate the minds of drivers unfamiliar with the region.
The WRC round in Jordan last week saw six Ford Fiesta S2000 crews forced to deal with gruelling stages of sandy gravel, temperatures topping 40 degrees and a variety of altitudes. Despite a series of extremely tough stages, Spanish driver Xevi Pons managed to pull clear and was awarded his second victory in the championship so far.
24-year-old Dennis Kuipers from Holland will contest the first event of his eight round-campaign in Turkey next week, and will be partnered with the experienced Belgian co-driver, Fred Miclotte. The young Dutchman is an M-Sport entry and made the transition to the Ford Fiesta S2000 after previously contesting in several European and WRC events in his Ford Focus RS WRC in 2008 and 2009.
Kuipers is hoping that the move to the new Ford Fiesta S2000 will allow him to develop his experience at the top level and allow him to take on a full campaign in 2011. Kuipers will also be taking part in WRC events in Portugal, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Japan or Spain, France and Great Britain later this year.
Competing alongside Kuipers will be Yagiz Avci, the reigning Turkish Rally champion. With the home advantage Avci will be flying the flag for Castrol Ford Team Turkiye. The 26-year-old has an excellent track record of rallying in the Turkish Rally Championship, claiming victories on five of the six events that he has taken part in. Avci is the youngest Turkish Rally champion in history and will be tough to beat on his home turf.
The Rally of Turkey will officially begin on Thursday 15 April in the historical Sultanahment Square, right in the heart of the city between the famous Blue Mosque and Haghai Sophia. Rally HQ will be based in Pendik, a coastal district of Istanbul based on the Asian side of the city on the Marmara sea.
The Ford Fiesta S2000s will need to cover 358km of competitive distance over 23 testing stages in Turkey. Day one will consist of a series of nine short stages over 98.43km, but the second day will be more challenging as the team cover 145.82km including the longest stage at 27.17km. The final day comprises of just six stages, but these are some of the longest in the rally so will require the crews' full attention to concentrate on the potential difficulties of driving on asphalt with gravel tyres.
Dennis Kuipers said:
"I'm really looking forward to Turkey. This is my first event with the Fiesta S2000 so I am very curious to find out how the car feels on the gravel stages. With the Ford Focus WRC, I did a few events on gravel, but the Rally of Turkey next week will be a great challenge. Our goal is mostly to gain experience during the events and get up to speed."
Yagiz Avci said:
"I will start the season with a new car, new team and a new co-driver. After clinching Turkish Rally Champion title last year, this season our goal is to repeat that but now with Castrol Ford Team Turkey and Ford Fiesta S2000. We did a pre-event test with the Fiesta S2000 and I tried to learn as much as possible about the rally car. I think Fiesta S2000 is very well balanced and great to drive but of course it will take some time for me to adapt completely and find the perfect rhythm. The stages of this year's Rally of Turkey are completely different from the Antalya stages but I am familiar with a few of the stages from the IRC/ERC Istanbul Rally. We are really looking forward to the event. Rally of Turkey also counts as three separate events for Turkish Rally Championship so we have to collect maximum points from each day. It will be a very good competition as there are many fast drivers, we will try our best to have a good start for 2010 season."
M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson said:
"Although Denis [Kuipers] hasn't driven the Ford Fiesta S2000 yet and it will be a very different driving experience from the Ford Focus WRC, I imagine that he will settle in well. Competing against the reigning Turkish Rally champion, Yagiz [Avci], will keep the S2000 drivers on their toes -- this should be an exciting battle."