Heavy rains preceding the Rally of Turkey could harm current leader Sebastien Loeb’s chances of a win in the muddy conditions. The Citroën star is set for a three-way battle with Peugeot’s Marcus Gronholm and Subaru’s Petter Solberg.

Heavy rains preceding Rally of Turkey could harm current leader Sebastien Loeb’s chances of a win in the muddy conditions. The Citroën star is set for a three-way battle with Peugeot’s Marcus Gronholm and Subaru’s Petter Solberg.

While the weather forecasts for Turkey predict hot and dry conditions over the weekend, heavy rains this week will have influenced the course conditions. Tyre selections could have been compromised as downpours have left most of the mountain stages in a muddy state, as well as exposing stones in the hard road base that could increase the risk of punctures. Different grip levels could also impact on the drivers’ performances.

It is also likely that teams would have chosen harder compound tyres, anticipating hot and dry conditions in Turkey. But the rain could work to the advantage of Pirelli, which traditionally excels in wet and muddy conditions.

Sebastien Loeb and his Michelin-shod Citroën have dominated the past few races, but Solberg’s Subaru and Gronholm’s Peugeot, both using Pirellis, could seriously challenge him this weekend. Solberg is not expecting an easy event though. "It's very, very muddy up there, and it will be a tricky event," he said.

If Solberg and Gronholm manage to avoid a repeat of their Cyprus problems, then it could well turn out to be a fierce three-way fight for the lead in Turkey, something which Loeb acknowledges.

"The way Cyprus unfolded didn't give a true idea of the performance potential of Marcus or Petter," he said. "Marcus posted some excellent split times before he stopped, while Petter didn't have a trouble-free stage.

“I'll be on my guard more than ever in Turkey. Serving as road sweeper for the 90 kilometres on Friday could be a handicap, but Petter will be running second on the road so it's practically the same thing for him. Marcus will start fifth, so he will be a little bit better off."