As the Citroën Total World Rally Team returns to Turkey, the country in which it won its very first WRC gravel rally back in 2003 with the Xsara WRC, its two crews Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm are determined to emulate the success of their celebrated predecessors. To do that, they will need to overcome the incredibly rough gravel roads at round eleven of the world championship.

After finishing last year’s event as top performers with five stage wins and briefly holding the overall lead, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia proved once again their innate ability to adapt to new stages and take effective pace notes on a new event. There is little doubt therefore that they will be among the frontrunners again at this year’s Rally Turkey, the second to be based in Marmaris, after Kemer (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008) and Istanbul (2010). Determined to fight tooth and nail to defend their title, the six-time world champions can also draw upon their considerable racecraft, a quality that is often critical at this type of event, where it is not all about pure speed. In running third in the starting order, the French crew will have the beginnings of a racing line to follow left by their two championship rivals, as they try to get the most out of the C3 WRC.

Galvanised by their impressive performance on gravel last time out in Finland, where they finished as runners-up, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm have clearly made a big step forward in handling the C3 WRC on this surface. After hovering just outside the top five for long periods in 2018, the Finns are keen to show their talent on gravel again this year. They will be looking to adopt an intelligent approach, finding the right balance between pushing and keeping out of trouble. Provided those higher up the order do not loosen too many sharp rocks, starting in ninth position on the road means they should have cleaner roads and better grip.

In order to prepare for this extremely demanding event as effectively as possible, the Citroën Total World Rally Team headed to Greece and the feisty stages used on the Acropolis Rally for a pre-event test, on roads long considered to be the benchmark when it comes to rough gravel. Citroën technicians spent four days working particularly on the C3 WRC’s damper systems as they tried to improve its ability to cope with the uneven surface, whilst looking after the tyres on the incredibly rocky and hot Turkish gravel roads.

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