Andreas Mikkelsen was the early leader of Rally Turkey after winning Thursday night’s curtain-raising speed test through the packed streets of Marmaris.
He was the only driver to opt for Michelin’s medium compound tyres for the 2.00km test alongside the town’s picturesque marina. They worked well on the asphalt and Mikkelsen, driving his Hyundai i20, topped the times by 2.5sec.
“I’m really looking forward to this rally. Hopefully, our luck has changed now, and we can have a good event. That would be nice,” said the Norwegian, who has endured a barren run in recent rallies and was towed back to the service park with transmission problems in this morning’s shakedown.
Craig Breen was second in a Citroën C3, with man-of-the-moment Ott Tänak 0.3sec further adrift in a Toyota Yaris. Championship leader Thierry Neuville was fourth in another i20, with WRC 2 leader Jan Kopecký and Esapekka Lappi completing the top six.
Huge crowds lined the stage and were treated to a rare mistake by reigning world champion Sébastien Ogier, who was only 12th after dropping 7.5sec following a nose-heavy landing in his Ford Fiesta over a jump. He missed the following junction, scattering roadside barriers.
“I had a massive kick on the jump which I didn’t expect, and I couldn’t brake for the next corner,” the Frenchman explained.
Tomorrow brings a gruelling day of 144.84km, divided into two identical loops of three stages. It begins with the 38.10km Çetibeli, the longest of the weekend and a stage which drivers described after the recce as the roughest of the season.