The World Rally Championship is looking to bounce back from the tactical skulduggery that marred Rally Jordan, and it got off to a perfect start yesterday as a thrilling first day of Rally Turkey saw the top six separated by less than 30 seconds. All the talk in the build-up to the event close to Istanbul had been about the desperate tactics by Citroen and BP Abu Dhabi Ford to avoid their cars going out in an unfavourable running order.
Both teams had made a pact prior to yesterday's first leg not to repeat their actions, while the stewards had warned the competitors that anything construed as unsporting behaviour would be investigated. But that was all forgotten once the action began as the top six battled throughout the day and the lead changed hands three times before Citroen's Sebastien Ogier took charge to build-up a 2.8-second lead after last night's eighth stage.
The Citroen Junior driver was in superb form on the gravel as he was quickest on three stages to ensure that he will be first on the road to tackle the gravel for today's second leg, which is made up of eight stages. "Today has been really good: I can't complain about anything," the Frenchman told wrc.com. "As for tomorrow, it will be a big challenge but I like it: if you are first on the road it is because you are first in the rally."
Citroen's Dani Sordo was an impressive second, ahead of the BP Abu Dhabi Ford of Mikko Hirvonen, and the Citroen of Petter Solberg. World champion Sebastien Loeb stayed in contention despite being first out, and is 25.3secs adrift of Ogier in fifth spot, with Jari-Matti Latvala's BP Ford completing the top six. Loeb told wrc.com: "I just hope that I've not lost too much time now. It's going to be tough."
* Compiled by Graham Caygill