Tänak moves back into world title contention with victory in Rally Chile

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Estonian’s Ott Tänak wrote his name in the history books as the inaugural winner of Copec Rally Chile, the new sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, on Sunday.

The Toyota Yaris WRC driver and co-driver Martin Järveoja led from the second timed test on Friday morning, managed their pace and conserved the car perfectly to win six of the 16 special stages and earn a winning margin of 23.1 seconds.

Tänak’s eighth career WRC win and a sixth with the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team was his first since Rally Sweden in February. He moves up to second in the Drivers’ Championship, 10 points behind Sébastien Ogier with the Power Stage win, and that means the leading trio in the championship have now taken two wins apiece so far in this enthralling 2019 season.

New championship leader Ogier claimed victories in Monte Carlo and Mexico and Thierry Neuville arrived in Chile with back-to-back wins in Corsica and Argentina before his massive crash here on Saturday.

Tänak said: “Great event and a first time here. It was a tough job and I needed to focus with a lot of energy. We were not on the limit all the time. The important thing on this rally was the result for the team and the engineers after setbacks losing two rallies in a row. Now we will keep fighting. We can do it.”

Citroën’s Ogier became locked in a fascinating duel with nine-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb for second place. Separated by 5.1 seconds at the start of the day, the gap was 4.6 before the Power Stage, but the six-time champion held his nerve to seal the three extra championship points for the runner-up spot and four more for second on the Power Stage.

The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team delivered two solid finishes with Elfyn Evans an unchallenged fourth and Teemu Suninen seeing off a final morning challenge from Citroën’s Esapekka Lappi to confirm fifth overall.

Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen could not follow up his fine result in Argentina with a top five in Chile and the Hyundai driver had to be content with seventh.

Toyota’s Kris Meeke fought back strongly from his roll on Saturday and managed to climb from 10th at the start of the day to eighth, the Ulsterman passing the R5 cars of Kalle Rovanperä and Mads Østberg on his way to valuable championship points.

Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala lost his chance of claiming a podium with a drive shaft breakage on SS12 on Saturday, but he returned to action to earn three Power Stage points.

Finland’s Rovanperä had done enough on day two to see off a WRC 2 Pro challenge from Norway’s Østberg, the young Škoda Fabia R5 driver confirming the category win by the margin of 23.6 seconds. England’s Gus Greensmith and Bolivian Marco Bulacia finished third and fourth, but Greensmith had done enough to snatch the championship lead.

Rovanperä said: “It feels good. It has not been a good start to the season for us. This was a new team as well. It was a great rally and now we need to be even faster.”

The WRC 2 category win was settled in Takamoto Katsuta’s favour when Chilean driver Alberto Heller left the road at speed on SS14.

The Japanese Ford Fiesta R5 driver and British co-driver Daniel Barritt reached the finish 3min 06.1sed clear of Benito Guerra, but the Mexican’s consolation was maintaining his championship lead. Argentina’s Martin Scuncio looked set for third but did not start the penultimate stage.  


2019 Copec Rally Chile – positions after SS16 (unofficial @ 13.35hrs):

  1. Ott Tänak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) Toyota Yaris WRC 3hrs 15min 53.8sec           
  2. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Citroën C3 WRC 3hrs 16min 16.9sec
  3. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (FRA) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 3hrs 16min 24.0sec
  4. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Scott Martin (GBR) Ford Fiesta WRC 3hrs 17min 30.5sec
  5. Teemu Suninen (FIN)/Marko Salminen (FIN) Ford Fiesta WRC 3hrs 19min 09.4sec
  6. Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) Citroën C3 WRC 3hrs 19min 39.2sec
  7. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Anders Jaeger-Amland (NOR) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC3hrs 20min 32.8sec           
  8. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Sebastian Marshall (GBR) Toyota Yaris WRC 3hrs 23min 27.2sec
  9. Kalle Rovanperä (FIN)/Jonne Halttunen (FIN) Škoda Fabia R5 (WRC 2 Pro)3hrs 23min 46.3sec
  10. Mads Østberg (NOR)/Torstein Eriksen (NOR) Citroën C3 R5 (WRC 2 Pro)3hrs 24min 09.9sec


2019 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers – positions after round 6 (unofficial): 
1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)                              122pts                   
2. Ott Tänak (EST)                                            112pts                  

=.Thierry Neuville (BEL) 110pts                   
4. Kris Meeke (GBR)                                        58pts                     
5. Elfyn Evans (GBR)                                        55pts, etc

Rally leaders

SS1                                         Kris Meeke/Jari-Matti Latvala

SS2-16                                   Ott Tänak

Stage winners

SS1                                         Kris Meeke/Jari-Matti Latvala

SS2                                         Ott Tänak

SS3                                         Thierry Neuville

SS4         `                               Ott Tänak

SS5                                         Ott Tänak

SS6                                         Sébastien Loeb

SS7                                         Thierry Neuville

SS8`                                       Sébastien Loeb

SS9                                        Ott Tänak

SS10                                       Sébastien Ogier

SS11                                       Ott Tänak

SS12                                       Sébastien Loeb

SS13                                       Kris Meeke

SS14                                       Sébastien Ogier

SS15                                       Sébastien Loeb

SS16                             Ott Tänak