TOYOTA’S Kris Meeke set the fastest time in Thursday morning’s shakedown at Rally Turkey.
PHOTO: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool
Making his first appearance at the Marmaris-based event, the Ulsterman was quickest through the rocky 4.70km Asparan stage in his Toyota Yaris by a second from Andreas Mikkelsen.
The Norwegian’s Hyundai i20 teammate Thierry Neuville was a further 0.2sec behind after all the leading drivers completed three passes of the stage in temperatures close to 30°C.
“We knew that piece of road breaks up quite a lot and it was hellishly rough towards the end. We only did three passes as we wanted to try to preserve the car as much as possible. It’s tough and we know it’s going to be like that in the rally,” Meeke said.
“I hope dust isn’t a problem early in the morning and we can have a clean run and at least see the big rocks that are coming for us. It’s going to be the toughest challenge of the year for the car and crews as well in these temperatures.”
Teemu Suninen opted for Michelin’s hard-compound tyres on his M-Sport Ford Fiesta and set the pace in the first pass. Meeke set the benchmark time in his second run, slashing more than four seconds from his previous mark, and matched that in his last attempt.
Championship leader Ott Tänak was fourth in another Yaris, 1.4sec behind his teammate, with Suninen’s original time good enough for fifth. World champion Sébastien Ogier rounded off the top six in a Citroën C3.
Esapekka Lappi punctured a rear tyre on his C3 in his first run while Pontus Tidemand returned to service to allow his M-Sport Ford team to check an intercom problem in his Fiesta.
Shakedown Top 10:
1 Kris Meeke (Toyota Yaris) 3min 25.3sec
2 Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai i20) +1.0sec
3 Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20) +1.2sec
4 Ott Tänak (Toyota Yaris) +1.4sec
5 Teemu Suninen (Ford Fiesta) +2.2sec
6 Sébastien Ogier (Citroën C3) +3.0sec
7 Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota Yaris) +3.2sec
8 Esapekka Lappi (Citroën C3) +3.5sec
9 Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20) +4.0sec
10 Pontus Tidemand (Ford Fiesta) +5.6sec