Marmaris, 14 September 2018 – ŠKODA works crews were initially dominating the WRC 2 category of the 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship 2018, the Rally Turkey Marmaris (13–16/09/2018). While Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZE/CZE) are still leading at the end of day two despite collecting two punctures on their ŠKODA FABIA R5, teammates Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (SWE/SWE) had to retire on Friday’s last stage. After three punctures the reigning WRC 2 Champions ran out of spare wheels, finally the suspension broke. With ŠKODA privateers Chris Ingram/Ross Whittock in second position, the Czech brand still holds a double lead in WRC 2 category.
Right from the start, the battle for victory in WRC 2 category at Rally Turkey Marmaris was really intense. On the opening show stage on Thursday evening in the streets of Marmaris, ten thousand rally fans saw ŠKODA factory driver Jan Kopecký set the second quickest time just 1.4 seconds ahead of teammate Pontus Tidemand. But the real rally started on Friday morning with the 38.10 kilometres “Cetebili” test, the longest stage of the event. All kind of gravel surfaces, fast passages and narrow winding roads were waiting for the crews. “It was quite tricky, especially because there was no wind at all. In some places, I was completely lost in the dust. No big push, as this rally is really long.” Having said that, Jan Kopecký was just a blink of an eye, exactly 0.7 seconds, quicker than Pontus Tidemand, who commented: “I was very careful in the beginning. The next stage should be cleaner, so I will push on that one.”
After two stages, the gap between WRC 2 category leader Jan Kopecký and second placed Pontus Tidemand stood at just 2.1 seconds. On the next stage the Czech Rally Champion set another fastest time and increased his lead to nine seconds. One stage further, Pontus Tidemand fought back and with his first fastest time reduced the gap to five seconds before the midday service rest halt in Marmaris. The afternoon featured the repetition of the morning stages which were even rougher now after the complete field had left ruts on the gravel roads and massive stones had been dug out by the cars. As a precaution Tidemand changed the setup of his ŠKODA FABIA R5 for the remaining three stages of the day.
Nevertheless, already the repetition of the 38 kilometres of “Cetibeli” saw both ŠKODA crews in trouble. While Tidemand had to change one puncture on the stage, Kopecký suffered two flat front tires which he had to change. Tidemand discovered at the end of the stage that he had an additional slow puncture which as well he had to change. As a consequence, both ŠKODA works drivers had to drive the two remaining stages of the day with no spare tires, because another puncture would lead to retirement. “Anything can happen any moment to anyone”, was Jan Kopecký’s comment after the massive mishap. Although both crews lost a lot of time, Tidemand kept the second place in the WRC 2 category standings, followed by teammate Kopecký by just 17.3 seconds while other competitors suffered from punctures as well. On the last stage of the day, reigning WRC 2 Champion Tidemand collected another slow puncture and with no spare wheel left and on top of that with a broken suspension, he had to retire from third place. Jan Kopecký, knowing that another puncture could stop his race as well, drove sensitively for the remaining kilometres of the day and reached the finish of the tough Friday leg holding the WRC 2 category lead.
ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek commented: “What a tough day! Jan kept the category lead despite suffering punctures. I feel sorry for Pontus, who had to retire.”
Saturday (15 September) will feature six more stages over 134.20 kilometres. After overall 17 tests totalling 317.25 kilometres, the winner will reach the podium in Marmaris on Sunday (16 September) at around 13h00.
Standings Rally Turkey Marmaris after Day 2 (WRC 2)
1. Kopecký/Dresler (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 2:02:53.8 h
2. Ingram/Whittock (GBR/GBR), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +16.3 sec.
3. Tempestini/Itu (ROM/ROM), Citroën C3 R5, +2:37.9 min.
4. Kajetanovicz/Szepaniak (POL/POL), Ford Fiesta R5, +3:28.5 min.
5. Heller/Olmos (CHL/CHL), Ford Fiesta R5, +5:02.1 min.
Number of the day: 4
On the six stages during the second day of Rally Turkey Marmaris, Jan Kopecký set four fastest
WRC 2 times.
The calendar of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2)
Great Britain; 04/10/–07/10/2018