Aberdeenshire’s Barry Clark, contesting only his second World Rally Championship event, continued his education by completing the opening leg of the inaugural Rally of Turkey in 13th place.
And the 25-year-old from Ellon, driving his Ford Focus RS WRC 07, starts tomorrow’s seven stages just 18.6s behind the Suzuki SX4 WRC of Sweden’s experienced Per Gunnar Andersson in 12th.
“Yeh, I’ve got to be happy with that,” the North-east driver, who finished just outside the top 10 on his WRC debut in Jordan last month, admitted. “We’ve taken it solidly through the day, pushing when we could and making sure we get the car through the stages.
“Obviously I’d love to get into the top 10, but this event is all about gaining more experience and the primary aim has to be to get to the finish in one piece.”
And while fellow Brit Malcolm Wilson, driving the Stobart Focus RS WRC 07, battled through illness to hold seventh place, it’s defending world champ Sebastien Loeb who leads the event for Citroen.
But the Frenchman gained his one second advantage ahead of Henning Solberg’s Focus WRC only after some shenanigans by Ford factory duo Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala, and Stobart Ford’s Gigi Galli.
The trio — who had been running first, second and third — all slowed to a crawl near the end of today’s final stage to ensure they fell behind Loeb in the times. As a result the Frenchman — first on the road — can expect to be hampered by the slippery, dusty conditions.