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Hyundai WRC Experience - Rally Turkey: From The Sidelines


The finest drivers in the world kick up a storm at the WRC Rally Turkey to leave a heck of a lasting impression

Hyundai WRC Rallye Turkey

 

Ever had any of these complaints about car racing - a bit too distant, too safe, not open enough to the spectators? Then break out of that blue funk, book your tickets to WRC and get ready to get zinged up. A recent outing to the Rally Turkey with Hyundai’s WRC outfit shot the grit, glory and grime of WRC straight to the heart.

Count on it

You can count on one thing in rallying - it won’t be predictable. Racing on mud and gravel, or along ravines and cliffs certainly isn’t. And then, every once in a while, a weekend like Rally Turkey comes along and spikes the uncertainty level up to 11. Never seen before routes meant the competitors were making their pace notes from scratch just a few days before the rally. If they had been allowed to test in the vicinity earlier, which they weren’t, they would have been prepared for the rocks and boulders that were going to make this entire rally a race for survival.

Hyundai WRC Rallye Turkey

 

“It’s the toughest rally we have had. It doesn’t suit my style as you have to be very slow and careful”, said Hayden Paddon, pilot of the No. 4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. By noon of Day 2, Hyundai’s top runner and championship leader, Thierry Neuville, was tossed out of contention with suspension damage. The previous day, a close look at the cars in the service park showed just how much of a beating the these were taking. You could see that the sills were thoroughly chewed up by the rocks that Thierry Neuville’s i20 was clawing up double-hot. But Hayden Paddon roared right through three days and racked up a third-place finish! So much for not liking the conditions, huh!

Get close

Hyundai WRC Rallye Turkey

 

Whether it was the service park or the stages, we were never too far from the action. Visitors stood closer to the battalion of Hyundai mechanics stripping down the i20 Coupe WRC’s suspension, measuring and tuning it, and putting it back together, than you would at your service centre. Hyundai’s garage could have easily passed off as a permanent structure - the largest and slickest, but it was a motorhome much like you would see in other championships. There was a carnival like atmosphere as drivers went about the service park for their television interviews and happily stopped off to meet fans afterwards.

 

Hyundai WRC Rallye Turkey

 

Like the sport, the spectators need to be a bit gritty too. Out on the stages, it isn’t uncommon to hunt and stake out the perfect spot for hours before the first car arrived. Yes, you have to sweat it out and there are no air-conditioned hospitality seats to lounge coolly in before the action starts. There are no large screens to follow the action on. Most spectators are very clued in and follow the times and even keep a track of their favourite drivers on their phones and stopwatches.

The i20 Coupe WRC with its long footprint is super stable and absolutely monsters up the road. Then, almost as if without any real transition, it turns and barrels off into the distance. Once you watch these masters of sideways up close, feel the dust and the rocks threatening to envelope you completely, and see the impossible happen again and again, the trouble taken seems trifling.


Tap for Symphony

Hyundai WRC Rallye Turkey

 

The sound that erupts from the single wide-barrel exhaust tip, is an orchestra in itself! When charging at you from a distance, the 1.6-litre engine roars, accompanied by whistles from the marshals - a warning for any stray spectators to get out of the way. This sets up the mood for the car to burst into view. Then, almost like a magician throwing a cape around himself before disappearing, an explosion of dust and rocks veils the cars as they whip past. But even then you can hear the exhaust note tremble, stumble and then gather itself with fervour long after the Hyundai had been swallowed up by the foliage of the hillside.

Hooked?

Hyundai WRC Rallye Turkey

 

You bet. WRC takes commitment from teams, drivers, navigators and spectators. But the experience is far removed from other world-championship motorsport experiences. It isn’t slick and lavish, but that’s what makes it feel all the more real. Now, long after having had watched the rally, the urge to watch another one is only rising. How about a snow rally? Or a tarmac rally? Or see one of the icons? Rally Monte Carlo anyone? There’s so much to choose from and given Hyundai’s current form, they are looking to make 2018 the year they lift the championship and that should make 2019 an even more lip-smacking affair to look forward to.

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