The leading drivers in the World Rally Championship have slammed the organisers of the Rally of Turkey for allegedly making alterations to the route for two of this morning's stages.
The drivers claim the route was altered in the Bozhane and Riva tests between the reconnaissance runs and the running of the stages today. Such a move would contravene regulations and the organizers have denied making any changes beyond picking up – by hand – some of the biggest rocks which were lying on the road.
World Champion Sebastien Loeb said: "For sure there were changes. I started [SS12] and went through the first right, then 80 meters after that I had a left in fourth gear, but there was no left corner – it was straight, flat out.
"And then after that, in some places they have used something like a snow plow [to clear rocks from the road] which has made some banks at the side of the road. But they were not there [on the recce] so, sometimes the road is turning more and sometimes it is turning less.
"I had a 'cut' in my notes to cut the corner, which I did in fifth or sixth gear and on the exit of the corner was one of these banks. Bang! The car went up in the air and we damaged the sumpguard."
Mikko Hirvonen was also complaining bitterly about the alterations which had been made.
"If the organizers are saying there are no changes to the roads then they are lying and this is stupid," said Hirvonen. "They have been scraping the road. And when they have done that they are making banks at the side of the road. "My notes were way too fast for the road as it was today. So many places we should have cut the corner and we had to drive around – there were a hell of a lot of changes. After that, I didn't trust my notes at all.
"The teams said if you are going there, then go and pick up the rocks. The organisers said they would just go and pick them up, but they have definitely done a hell of a lot more than that. They changed the stage and told nobody."
Hirvonen had another moment towards the end of the morning's final stage.
"There was a right over crest near the end," he said. "In the recce, everybody was cutting this corner from the left hand side and then cutting into the following junction.
"We asked the organizers whether they would put a fence or anything there to stop us cutting and they said, 'No. You can cut after the crest, but we will block the inside of the junction to stop you cutting there.' Then they did exactly the opposite, which is not nice to find when you come over the crest at rally speed..."
Asked about any changes made to the stages, a spokesperson from the organizers said: "We made no changes to the stages. We altered the location of a refuel before the start of SS12, but that's the only difference. We did go through the long stage [SS13] and picked up some of the big rocks by hand, but otherwise there have been no changes."