Estonian Ott Tänak's managed His pace and his temperament to perfection to Take Control of proceedings after an enthralling second day of Copec Chile Rally, round six of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
The Toyota Yaris WRC driver and co-driver Martin Järveoja won two of Saturday's six gravel special stages in the forests and hills Between Chile's Pacific coast and the Bio Bio River and will take a lead of 30.3 seconds into the remaining four stages on Sunday.
Tänak said:. "I was able to manage my pace These are difficult stages and the last stage, it was raining and there was a big fog in the middle. We are safe and That is important. The lead is more than yesterday, so everything is going in the right direction. "
A canny tire choice enabled Sebastien Ogier's Citroen afternoon to fend off a potential challenge from Both Jari-Matti Latvala and nine-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb over the first two stages. But the weather changed markedly on SS12 and lost time That meant the defending champion headed into the night halt just 5.1 seconds in front of Loeb. The Latter HAD third Latvala inherited technical issues When forced out of contention on ending the special of the day after I HAD clipped a stone.
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team's Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen held solid fourth and fifth positions in Their Ford Fiesta and Remained on course for valuable Manufacturers' points for the Blue Oval.
Finland's Esapekka Lappi overtook Norway's Andreas Mikkelsen Earlier in the day and was able to reach the end of the leg in sixth in the second Citroen, Although seventh-placed Mikkelsen HAD Been instructed to up His pace During the afternoon by Hyundai management, even though the goal was to reach the finish.
Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul Emerged relatively unscathed from a horrific high-speed multiple roll 13.9km into the first pass through the Maria Las Cruces stage. The Belgian's Hyundai i20 WRC got out of phase on a right kink in the road after a flat crest, clipped the side of the track on the left and cartwheeled multiple times to stop on STI side in the middle of the special. The stage was red-flagged and the crew taken to hospital by helicopter in Concepcion Were for medical checks. Mercifully, They Suffered They only bruising and shock in the accident, but the i20 was extensively damaged.
Neuville said: "Nicolas and me are good. We had quite a big shock This Morning. We had a proper check up and we are Both fine. The pace notes Said slight right, flat crest over. I was a little bit wide, hit the edge and we rolled the car. I felt We were going to hit the rear. It was quite a deep ditch. The situation is not what we wanted. If we are not first in the championship After This rally we have a better road position for the next one. That we see the new generation cars are very strong and we are really pleased for that. I did not expect to be a crash dummy, but I am happy for that. Just a few stitches in my leg, That is all. "
Kris Meeke was unfortunate to roll His Toyota on a pretty innocuous corner on the first stage of the morning. I have lost over six minutes in the stage, but managed to continue with a battered car and no windscreen, the Ulsterman setting the fastest times remarkably on the fourth next two stages. With the Yaris repaired for the afternoon loop, Meeke finished the day in 10th overall.
A damper issue to Finland's Kalle failed Rovanpera Prevent from WRC 2 Pro Maintaining Norway's His advantage over Mads Østberg. His more experienced rival Suffered brake issues on the first stage of the day and the night halt Reached 36.1 seconds behind the young Finn eighth-placed. England's Gus Greensmith and Bolivian Marco Bulacia continue to hold third and fourth.
Takamoto Katsuta Alberto Heller and continued to lock horns Throughout the second day and the Chilean driver held a slender lead of 7.3 seconds over the World Rally Championship-2 Japanese after 11 stages. But Katsuta Local beat the driver by 13.3 on the last stage of the day to earn a six-second lead. Series-leading Mexican Benito Guerra managed to overhaul Argentina's Martin Scuncio on SS12 to regain third place.
Saturday - as it Happened
Fifty-two of the original 55 starters Began the first section of the leg the two, with Lorenzo Bertelli Given the job of opening the road and carrying out potential 'cleaning' duties through the 20.90km stage of the Rio Lia. Overnight leader Tänak Began the day from 11th, championship pace-setter Neuville was eighth and defending World Champion Ogier lined up in 10th.
It was slightly foggy first thing in the morning as Chile's traditional Camanchaca (FOG) rolled in from the Pacific Ocean. This phenomenon Caused stage many delays When the Dakar Rally ran through the middle and northern Chile from 2009, but there Were no such delays on This occasion.
The stage surface was a little slippery through the early sections before becoming more abrasive, as Bertelli carded the target of 14min 37.4sec. Meeke 2.4km rolled into the special and started moving again after four minutes With His substantial damage to Toyota. Mikkelsen visited a ditch for 15 seconds and Several drivers Complained About a lack of grip.
A distraught Meeke said: "I rolled in a slow corner and ran wide and there was a tree stump on the outside."
Meeke behind Latvala was delayed returning to the stage after His crash and the Finn ceded third place to Neuville With the loss of 20 seconds. I was Relying on rally Officials to give him the time back later. Also closed to Neuville Within seconds of Ogier 1.4 With the stage win.
His extended Rovanpera WRC 2 Pro advantage over a Troubled With Østberg to 38.6 seconds after stage win another category His Opponent lost brake fluid and rear brakes. Katsuta reduced Alberto Heller's grip on WRC 2 to just 16.2 seconds.
The 23.09km of the Maria Las Cruces stage was next on the agenda. Loeb managed to fend off Evans's challenge to preserve His position and move to Within 4.4 seconds of Latvala. The Frenchman Then a Climbed a position to fourth after Neuville crashed out of third place at speed over a flat crest and Hyundai His badly damaged.
Lappi Mikkelsen passed to snatch eighth and Meeke in September an impressive time in His battered Toyota Yaris That was running without a windscreen. Tänak finished the stage With the second quickest time behind Loeb and 30.8 seconds to lead extended His. The special was red-flagged soon afterwards, however, while medical assistance was sent in for Neuville and his co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul.
The first run through the 16.59km stage of the pelun Preceded to return to Talcahuano for a regroup and service. The special started in bright sunshine and finished in low-lying fog on a downhill descent into the Biobio river valley.
Bertelli survived a gentle roll at a hairpin Latvala and Loeb reduced's hold on third place to just 1.1 seconds after the Finn ADH complained of finishing the stage on worn rear tires. Tänak was fastest and extended lead to 34.6 seconds His, while Lappi Began to pressurize Suninen's hold on sixth overall.
DESPITE a damper minor issue, ninth-placed Rovanpera held a comfortable advantage over WRC 2 Pro Østberg and Alberto Heller maintained His lead in WRC 2.
In drier, warmer and brighter conditions, the three stages Were Repeated in the afternoon. Latvala was handed back the 12.5 seconds behind Meeke I HAD lost on SS7 and headed into the Rio Lia stage 13.6 seconds in front of fourth-placed Loeb and Ogier just 3.9 behind.
Loeb opt for the hard tires on the drying and abrasive surface and managed to Set an impressive time of 13min 45.5sec That enabled him to whittle Latvala's advantage down to 7.5 seconds. The Frenchman ceded four-tenths to a resurgent stage-winning Ogier, as Tänak headed to SS11 with a lead of 30.1 seconds reduced. Suninen pulled further clear of Mikkelsen and Lappi to consolidate sixth behind Evans. Østberg clawed back 1.8 seconds and reduced Rovanpera's WRC 2 Pro lead to 34.1 seconds.