Kopecký overcame the teenage Finn to claim maximum points in last month and has experience in his favour, having mastered the ferocious heat and rocky gravel roads to win the event 12 months ago.

“On some stages, it was just about to survive and bring the car in one piece to the finish. But I have good memories looking back on last year’s event. By winning the category, I could lay a cornerstone for my 2018 2 title win,” said the Skoda Fabia R5 driver.

Rovanperä holds a commanding 41-point lead after four category wins, two second places and a third position but lacks the knowledge of the gruelling conditions his Czech colleague possesses.

“I have a big respect towards the tough gravel roads of Turkey, which I know so far only from studying video footage. It looks like it is all about avoiding punctures. Of course, I h to win but I know Jan and Pavel (co-driver Dresler) will sell their lives dearly,” Rovanpera said.

Gus Greensmith, third in the standings, returns to the category after two rounds driving a Ford Fiesta World Rally Car in place of the injured Elfyn Evans. The Briton will be at the wheel of the new Fiesta R5 for the first time.

Kajetan Kajetanowicz has a golden opportunity to close on the championship front-runners in 2 – and has swapped cars to give himself a better chance.

Fabio Andolfi will be co-driven by Emanuele Inglesi for the first time

The Pole lies fifth, 25 points behind leader Nikolay Gryazin, but with all four drivers ahead absent from Turkey, Kajetanowicz could vault into the lead with victory. To aid his efforts he has switched from a Volkswagen Polo to a Fabia.

“After Rallye Deutschland we analysed for a long time what kind of car we would drive and decided on a Skoda Fabia R5. The choice is not accidental. This car is proven and much more durable,” explained the three-time an champion.

Another hoping to capitalise is Fabio Andolfi, who will be partnered by new co-driver Emanuele Inglesi for the first time. Regular pace note reader Simone Scattolin broke his pelvis in three places in an accident in and remains in hospital in Italy.

Henning Solberg and Marco Bulacia should also feature, but all face a strong Turkish challenge which features Burak Çukurova, Murat Bostanci, Deniz Fahri, Bugra Banaz and Bora Manyera.

Head to WRC+ to watch All Live from Rally Turkey, including every stage broadcast live, breaking service park news and expert studio analysis.


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