Although Ott Tänak won the event last season, the Japanese firm accepted its car was far from the fastest on the season’s roughest roads.
Extensive work on the suspension since last year, which included Juho Hänninen’s Rally Italia Sardegna entry in June, has helped deliver an improved set-up for this week.
“From our pre-event test onwards last year, right through the recce and everything the drivers were telling us, we knew it was going to be tough last year,” Fowler said. “Then we had Ott sitting ninth on day one, pretty much last of the factory World Rally Cars.
“For days two and three, we knew if we could keep the car on the road and avoid problems, we could probably make the podium. We decided not to start making changes or go on a set-up mission in the middle of the rally. We accepted we weren’t fast, but we understood the others could run into trouble.
“That won’t happen this time. The other teams have learned about this rally and they’ll be ready for it. We can’t and won’t rely on bad luck or poor reliability from the others.”
Fowler’s team has worked on both the internals of the dampers and making some of the components lighter.
“It’s a big step,” he said. “And it was a bit of a tricky decision to put so many new parts into the cars for one rally. This isn’t something we’ve rushed into, we’ve thought about this for a very long time. These parts have been in the homologation papers since January.
“These parts are the very reason that Juho was in Sardinia. We thought about running them on all the cars in Italy, but in the end decided to run Juho and see how they went under rally conditions. They worked very well, that’s why we’re going with them in Turkey.”
Tänak and team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke were all impressed with the step, according to Fowler.
“How big a step is it? It’s hard to say. We were a fairly long way behind last year, so it’s possible we’ve just caught up with the rest. We’ll see this week.”