Ott Tänak powered to a dominant victory in the Toyota Yaris WRC on the first Rally Chile last weekend, giving a faultless display over three days of action to reinvigorate his championship campaign.
The Estonian driver led the rally from the second stage on the opening day and headed the leaderboard 23.1 seconds clear of his nearest rival. His Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team team-mates Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala finished in tenth and eleventh places respectively, both having encountered setbacks during the all-new event.
Tänak said: “It’s great to take this victory here on the first time in Chile. It was a very demanding event and it required a lot of focus to not make any mistakes. Today wasn’t easy: with the two Sebastiens (Ogier and Loeb) pushing hard behind, the gap was not so big. We have had some disappointing setbacks in the last couple of events and to fight back like this with a perfect weekend is very positive.”
On Friday’s opening day, Tänak won three of the six stages and carried a lead of more than 22 seconds overnight, ahead of Latvala in third and Meeke in fifth. Latvala’s hopes of a podium ended after hitting a rock on Saturday’s final stage, breaking a wheel and driveshaft. There was equal drama for Meeke, who survived a slow roll on the opening stage, but lost his windscreen. A charging drive through the afternoon brought him back into the top ten.
The final day saw no let-up in Tänak’s charge and he duly netted maximum extra points by winning the Power Stage. Latvala and Meeke recovered from their early troubles and were also Power Stage points-winners.
Team principal Tommi Mäkinen said: “This is an absolutely brilliant victory for us and for Ott. He did such a great drive throughout the whole weekend with no mistakes. He was the strongest driver and the combination of Ott and the Yaris WRC was the strongest package here in Chile.”
The 2019 World Rally Championship returns to Europe for the next round in Portugal, which takes place from 30 May to 2 June. Tänak will go into that event in second place in the driver’s title race, ten points behind leader Ogier.
2019 Rally Chile: final classification
|POSITION||DRIVER / CO-DRIVER||CAR||TIME|
|1||Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja||Toyota Yaris WRC||3h 15m 53.8s|
|2||Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia||Citroën C3 WRC||+ 23.1s|
|3||Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+ 30.2s|
|4||Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin||Ford Fiesta WRC||+ 1m 36.7s|
|5||Teemu Suninen / Marko Salminen||Ford Fiesta WRC||+ 3m 15.6s|
|6||Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm||Citroën C3 WRC||+ 3m 45.4s|
|7||Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+ 4m 39.0s|
|8||Kalle Rovanpera / Jonne Halttunen||Skoda Fabia R5||+ 7m 52.5s|
|9||Mads Ostberg / Torstein Eriksen||Citroën C3 R5||+ 8m 16.1s|
|10||Kris Meeke / Seb Marshall||Toyota Yaris WRC||+ 8m 33.4s|
|11||Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila||Toyota Yaris WRC||+ 10m 59.2s|