Estonian star victorious as WRC manufacturers’ title is decided in South America*.
M-Sport Ford’s Ott Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja became Rally Chile Bio Bío winners for the second time on Sunday whilst rival team Toyota Gazoo Racing secured the manufacturers’ championship crown*.
Tänak, driving a Ford Puma Rally1 for M-Sport Ford, seized the lead of the South American fixture on Friday and, thanks to clever tyre tactics, built a commanding buffer which he carried through to win by 42.1sec on Sunday.
Teemu Suninen went off the road in the rally’s penultimate stage and, while the Hyundai i20 N driver’s demise elevated team-mate Thierry Neuville to second overall, it also opened the door for Toyota Gazoo Racing to clinch the manufacturers’ title with two rallies to spare.
Suninen’s demise meant the Japanese marque needed to score four bonus points more than Hyundai, for whom Neuville was the only remaining driver, in the Wolf Power Stage. It did exactly that, with GR Yaris stars Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans setting the first and second-fastest times respectively.
“I am really proud of the team and the drivers and all the work we have done during the season,” expressed Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Jari-Matti Latvala.
“It is the earliest we have ever as Toyota Gazoo Racing got the title, so it shows we have done things right.”
Evans’ result of third overall was enough to keep the drivers’ championship battle alive as he headed points-leading GR Yaris team-mate Rovanperä, celebrating his 23rd birthday today, by 1min 4.1sec.
Rovanperä now leads the series by 31 points and could clinch the title at round 12 of 13 by scoring higher than Evans.
Almost five minutes back from the lead in a lonely fifth overall was Takamoto Katsuta, driving a similar Toyota. The remainder of the leaderboard comprised of WRC2 runners with Oliver Solberg winning the category ahead of Gus Greensmith, Sami Pajari, Yohan Rossel and Nikolay Gryazin.
Roope Korhonen, although not competing in Chile, was crowned WRC3 champion by default* after Diego Dominguez’s retirement means he can no longer be caught.
The WRC returns to Europe soon for Central European Rally, a brand-new tri-country fixture. The asphalt event takes places from 26 – 29 October across Germany, Austria and Czech Republic.
*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Ford Puma 3h 6m 38.1s
2. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N +42.1s
3. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +1m 6.9s
4. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +2m 11.0s
5. T Katsuta / A Johnston JPN Toyota GR Yaris +4m 41.5s
6. O Solberg / E Edmondson SWE Škoda Fabia RS +8m 18.5s
Drivers’ championship standings (after round 11 of 13)
1. K Rovanperä 217pts
2. E Evans 186pts
3. T Neuville 155pts