The Rally of Turkey is round seven of the World Championship, and although it is not part of the Junior World Rally Championship, Suzuki will again enter two cars for P-G Andersson and Guy Wilks in class A6 as part of their learning programme for the future.
Turkey is the latest
in a series of Mediterranean gravel rallies, renowned for hot weather and tough conditions. But while there will still be rough roads and rutted tracks, conditions are not expected to be quite as savage as they were on the Rally of Cyprus two weeks previously. There is a wide variety of speeds and corners on the Turkish stages, requiring a strong car and committed driving. Temperatures will climb to over 30 degrees centigrade, although there is always a small chance of sudden rainstorms.
While Turkey is not a round of the Junior World Rally Championship, a healthy contingent of Super 1600 cars have entered the event, providing Suzuki with stiff competition. Former Suzuki driver Mirco Baldacci drives a Fiat Palio in Turkey, while reigning British Champion David Higgins takes the wheel of an Opel Corsa. Several highly-rated local drivers will also bolster the Super 1600 field.
Turkey is a round of the Production Car World Rally Championship as well, for two-litre four-wheel drive cars with turbos. Despite a power and traction deficit, the Suzuki drivers will once again be trying to beat the Production runners. In the past, the diminutive Suzuki Ignis has frequently had the better of these much bigger cars. Even in the rough conditions of Cyprus a fortnight ago, the Suzukis were often faster than Production Car winner (and former Junior World Champion) Brice Tirabassi!
Reigning Junior World Champion P-G Andersson is looking forward to the challenge of Turkey. He said: "After the extremely rough conditions we faced in Cyprus, nothing will ever appear that difficult! I think Turkey should be much more suited to Super 1600 cars, as is proved by the strong entry list. I'm expecting us to have a lot of fun, and I've got every confidence in the car because I know just how strong it is. We've got every chance of challenging for victory and that is certainly going to be my aim from the start. On these types of rough surfaces you always have to be careful to avoid punctures, but I reckon we are well-prepared."
Guy Wilks, who won class A6 in Cyprus, commented. "I think it should be a good event. P-G is obviously always my benchmark, but there will be some other good drivers for us to try and beat as well. There's quite an interesting variety of stages in Turkey, which should suit both me and the car, and this will be very good practice for the next Junior World Championship rally in Greece Ė both in terms of the type of stages and the high level of competition. I don't think punctures will be as much of a problem as they have been on the last two events, as there is quite a hard surface in Turkey with not so many loose rocks."
Team manager Risto Laine reported: "We're all looking forward to Turkey and I think we will learn a lot from it. The most exciting thing from our point of view is the high level of competition, which always adds extra motivation. The Rally of Cyprus was more like endurance testing for us, but this will feel like much more of a competitive event."
The Rally of Turkey gets underway on Friday June 3 from Kemer. Drivers then tackle 18 special stages totalling 348 competitive kilometres, before the finish back in Kemer on Sunday June 5.
Press release Suzuki Motorsport