Saturday morning of Rally Turkey Marmaris started with sad news for the ŠKODA fans. The tense battle for victory in the WRC 2 category between Jan Kopecký and teammate Pontus Tidemand prematurely came to the end. After collecting a third puncture on the last stage of Friday and on top of that having broken the suspension, reigning WRC 2 Champion Tidemand provisionally had to stop and to retire from third place.
When his ŠKODA FABIA R5 was inspected in service later that evening, additional structural damage was discovered. After consulting with the technical stewards of the FIA it was obvious that a sustainable and safe repair could not be carried out on the spot. As a consequence, Tidemand and co-driver Jonas Andersson were not able to re-start under Rally 2 regulations the next day.
So Czech Rally Champion Jan Kopecký had everything in his hands. Another victory would make a WRC 2 championship most possible. But there were still ten tough gravel stages waiting for the crews. On Saturday alone six more stages totalling 134.20 kilometres had to be driven. Kopecký had a good start into Saturday, setting the second quickest time in WRC 2 and increasing his category lead. But on the third stage of the day, a broken drive shaft limited his ŠKODA FABIA R5 to rear wheel drive only. Kopecký lost two and a half minutes and dropped to second position behind ŠKODA privateer Chris Ingram. At midday service, his car was repaired and he could start the afternoon leg with a fully working car. Consequently Kopecký reduced the gap to WRC 2 leader Ingram. On the longest stage of the day alone, the 34.24 kilometres of “Yesibelde”, he gained 41 seconds closing in to Ingram to less than half a minute with two Saturday stages to go.
Avoiding any mistakes, Kopecký finally regained the category lead while ŠKODA privateer Ingram dropped to third position due to a puncture. In case Kopecký wins in Turkey, mathematically the next WRC 2 Champion could only be him or Pontus Tidemand.
ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek commented: “Today Jan and Pavel impressed me with a faultless and fast drive on the tough gravel stages in Turkey.”
After 17 tests in total, the winner will reach the podium in Marmaris on Sunday (16 September) at around 13h00.
Standings Rally Turkey Marmaris after Day 3 (WRC 2)
1. Kopecký/Dresler (CZE/CZE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 3:51:28.4 h
2. Tempestini/Itu (ROM/ROM), Citroën C3 R5, +44.5 sec.
3. Ingram/Whittock (GBR/GBR), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +1:23.3 min.
4. Kajetanovicz/Szepaniak (POL/POL), Ford Fiesta R5, +3:08.3 min.
5. Heller/Olmos (CHL/CHL), Ford Fiesta R5, +6:59.1 min.
Number of the day: 44,5
Despite two punctures on Friday and transmission issues on Saturday, ŠKODA factory driver Jan Kopecký holds the lead in the WRC 2 category by 44.5 seconds.
The calendar of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2)
Great Britain 04/10/–07/10/2018