Neuville earns Michelin’s 25th Rally Argentina win
Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul followed up their Tour de Corse victory in March with victory this weekend in Argentina to clock up Michelin’s 25th succ...
The first Rally Chile to count towards the FIA World Rally Championship was won by Estonia’s Ott Tänak (Toyota Yaris WRC/Michelin) who notched up Michelin’s 333rd WRC success in the process. French world champions Sébastien Ogier (Citroën/Michelin) and Sébastien Loeb (Hyundai/Michelin) were second and third, while WRC2 victor was the young Finnish Michelin runner Kalle Rovanperä (Skoda).
The stages of the world championship’s newcomer were naturally unknown territory for all the crews, engineers and tyre technicians and consequently posed a big challenge when it came to finding the ideal set-up and pinpointing the most competitive tyre choices for the 304 kilometres of competitive action.
The fast, technical tests were described as a blend of RallyGB, Rally Finland and Rally Australia and provided a mix of muddy, damp, drying and all-dry ground, while fog, rain and the low sun added to the difficulty at times.
Michelin’s LTX Force and Latitude Cross tyres were consequently tasked with delivering the best grip possible, as well as consistency in the shifting weather conditions. Their mission was also to boost the confidence of the crews as they got their first taste of the Chilean stages which were contested at average speeds in excess of 100kph.
After being let down by his mechanicals in Argentina a fortnight ago, Tänak bounced back to steal the week’s win, helped by a tally of six fastest times. The Estonian pulled out an early lead and went on to take the top prize by a margin of 23.1 seconds. His victory was Michelin’s 333
Kris Meeke (Toyota/Michelin) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai/Michelin) both rolled out of contention, while Jari-Matti Latvala was eliminated by driveshaft failure, which left Loeb and Ogier to scrap for second place. The Franco-French duel ended in the latter’s favour by a margin of just 7.1s and the Citroën/Michelin driver’s fifth podium finish from six starts this season has promoted him back to the top of the provisional Drivers’ points table.
Meanwhile, third-placed Loeb crowned his maiden outing on dirt in the Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC/Michelin with four fastest times and his 118
Ford M-Sport/Michelin’s Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen rounded out the top five, but it was a tough three days for Esapekka Lappi (Citroën/Michelin) and Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai/Michelin) who came home sixth and seventh, ahead of Meeke.
The other top-10 finishers were WRC2 Pro drivers Kalle Rovanperä (Skoda Fabia R5/Michelin) and the more experienced Mads Ostberg (Citroën C3 R5/Michelin).
After a brace of rounds in South America, the world championships returns to Europe for the next clash – in Portugal – on May 31-June 2.
2019 Rally Chile – final positions:
1. Tänak/Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC), 3h15m53.8s
2. Ogier/Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC), +23.1s
3. Loeb/Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC), +30.2s
4. Evans/Martin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC), +1m36.7s
5. Suninen/Salminen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC), +3m15.6s
6. Lappi/Ferme (Citroën C3 WRC), +3m45.4s
7. Mikkelsen/Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC), +4m39.0s
8. Meeke/Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC), +7m33.4s
9. Rovanperä/Haltunen (Skoda Fabia R5), +7m52.5s (1
10. Ostberg/Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5), +8m16.1s