Rarely has a section-two start list for a World Rally Championship round been so eagerly anticipated but, at 10pm local time on Friday night, Rally Turkey clerk of the course Murat Kaya confirmed four-minute gaps for the leading drivers on Saturday’s stages.
Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier were among those questioning the safety of starting Saturday’s six stages with just three minutes between the Rally1 cars.
The decision to move to four-minute gaps is, essentially, a change to the itinerary, which comes under the clerk of the course’s remit. Kaya would, however, have discussed the matter with senior officials – including both the stewards and the FIA sporting delegate.
Any potential impact on the pre-planned live television stage (Datça, SS4/7) will be mitigated by the fact that there are very few entries on the event and the Rally1 cars will all still fit into the allotted time schedule, despite each being spaced a minute further apart.
The revised itinerary means Pierre-Louis Loubet leads the field out of parc ferme at 7.52am local time, and will start the first stage of the day at 8.45am.
Rally leader Sébastien Loeb, a man renowned for his displeasure at early starts, doesn’t leave for service until 8.28am.
The bigger gap is only for the Rally1 crews; the P2 and P3 runners will have a three-minute gap.
At present the decision is only for Saturday, though a similar call will be made on Saturday evening for Sunday’s stages – just in case it pours with rain on Sunday, meaning the final-day itinerary would be changed for no reason.
Click below to see the reaction from Thierry Neuville to the dust clouds on SS2, and head to DirtFish’s YouTube channel for more interviews from Rally Turkey.