Tanak Stars at WRC Round 11 - Rally Chile

Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja scored an emphatic victory on Rally Chile Biobío, winning seven out of sixteen stages, and holding the lead from stage five. It was the Estonian crew's second WRC event victory in a Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 car and also their second victory in Chile following their 2019 win.

Based in Concepción in the Biobío region of Chile, bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and made famous for its crisp, aromatic wines, the rally provided round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship and in truth, Tänak's win was crafted by inspired tyre choice on Saturday morning and exceptional pace across the second run across the Chilean stages.

The rally presented drivers with 320 Km of challenging stages and Tänak and the M-Sport team masterfully took control from the start, winning the opening stage to seize the initiative. First major retirement was just 17 Km into the first stage when Esapekka Lappi braked too late for a slow lefthander and rolled violently into instant retirement with a totaled Hyundai i20, fortunately without injury to its crew. Hyundai's Teemu Sininen then held second with Elfyn Evans third and Thierry Neuville and Kalle Rovenpera fighting for fourth, the latter hampered by road cleaning as first car through.

A couple of top-three stage times followed and Tänak briefly lost the lead which he quickly clawed back by the fifth stage. The last stage of the day saw yet another fastest time meaning Tänak and Järveoja headed back to the Service Park with the overnight lead.

Tyre strategy played a key role with hard and soft compounds favoring different stages of the dry, dusty, and abrasive surfaces, and differing driving styles and chassis characteristics. Then on the penultimate stage, Teemu Sininen went slightly off track and clipped a tree stump with his front right wheel, breaking the suspension and sliding off the road and out of second place.

The final results showed the three manufacturer teams on the podium - but in reverse of their championship positions - Tänak and Järveoja first for M-Sport Ford and Hyundai's Thierry Neuville and Martin Wydaeghe second and Toyota crew Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin third for M-Sport Ford. Fourth was Kalle Rovanpera and Takamoto Katsuta fifth, ensuring that Toyota Gazoo Racing secured the manufacturers title with two rounds remaining.

Ott Tänak: "This rally was a different kind of challenge. It felt different to what we normally do - it was a lot about the management [of tyres] and how to get through the loop [of stages]. It wasn't too much about pure performance. It definitely feels nice to have a positive outcome from the rally after what feels like a long time. These positive vibes are always helping, so I'm sure it's been a great week for the team."

Toyota Gazoo Racing Team Principal Jari-Matti Latvala: "I am really proud of the team and the drivers and all the work we have done during the season. It is the earliest we have ever as Toyota Gazoo Racing got the title, so it shows we have done things right."

Evans' third place was enough to keep the driver's championship battle alive as he headed his Yaris team-mate - and championship leader - Kalle Rovanperä by 1min 4.1sec and is now 31 points in arrears. Round 12 of the thirteen round 2023 WRC Championship sees the first running of the innovative Central European Rally 26/20 October, based in Passau Germany and using stages in Germany, Austria and the Czek Republic.

4th October, 2023