Ott Tänak and the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team clinched their second victories of the season at the first ever running of Rally Chile. Tänak completed a brilliant performance in a demanding event with the fastest time on the rally-ending Power Stage, gaining extra points to climb up to second in the drivers’ championship, only 10 points away from the leader.
Having led the rally since the second stage on Friday morning, Tänak took a lead of half a minute into the final day, but with the two drivers behind him pushing hard in their own battle, he couldn’t relax completely through the opening three tests. He was then 1.3 seconds faster than anyone else in the Power Stage as he and co-driver Martin Järveoja clinched overall victory by 23.1seconds.
Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke also performed well in the Power Stage, setting the third and fifth best times respectively. Meeke moved from 10th to eighth position overall on the final day, but was classified 10th after receiving a one-minute time penalty because the crew removed their smashed windscreen in the control area before SS8 on Saturday. Latvala just missed out on overall points in 11th. The team remains second in the manufacturers’ championship, reducing the gap to the lead to 29 points.
Akio Toyoda (Team Chairman)
“In our neighbouring country over the Pacific Ocean, Chile, Ott and Martin claimed their second victory of the season and Takamoto Katsuta won his class for the first time since his maiden victory in Sweden last year. I would like to thank all our fans for the support. In the previous round, Argentina, we forced Ott and Martin to miss the chance of victory due to a problem on the car. As the team chairman, I am very pleased to see that they ran through all the stages flat out and stood on the top of the podium with smiles. Congratulations, Ott and Martin! Kris and Seb rolled over early on Saturday morning. But they did not give up and brought back the wrecked Yaris WRC to the service. Then the mechanics together fixed the car and sent Kris and Seb back to the battlefield.
The points earned by this big effort by all the team members under Tommi’s leadership will be highly valuable later this season. I regard the accident of Jari-Matti and Miikka on Saturday evening as a racing accident and the result of the maximum attack for the team. I hope they will keep attacking in the rest of the season. Now, the WRC will move to gravel rounds in Europe. We will work hard together with one heart to help the six drivers and co-drivers and three Yaris WRC bring good news to the fans. The other good news is from the WRC 2 class. Katsuta recorded his second victory in his career. Congratulations, Takamoto and Daniel! I believe Takamoto has grown quickly because he is hungrily learning about driving and how to fight in rallies from the top WRC drivers in the team. I expect his further development and more good news to come. Thank you in advance for your support to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT and the Katsuta/Barritt pairing.”
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“This is an absolutely brilliant victory for us and for Ott. He did such a great drive throughout the whole weekend with no mistakes: He was the strongest driver and the combination of Ott and the Yaris WRC were the strongest package here in Chile. Unfortunately, Kris and Jari-Matti were caught out yesterday, but we saw that they were not the only ones. The whole rally was a big challenge for everyone: The stages were really nice and flowing with a good surface but they were very challenging for the drivers, especially with new pace-notes, because with the trees and banks and crests, it’s hard to see through the corners. It’s been really nice to be here in Chile, we’ve seen a great rally with lots of rally fans, and it’s especially nice to win here.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It’s great to take this victory here on the first time in Chile. It was a very demanding event and it required a lot of focus to not make any mistakes. Today wasn’t easy: With the two Sebastiens pushing hard behind, the gap was not so big. We had to keep going and we collected maximum points from the Power Stage. We have had some disappointing setbacks in the last couple of events and to fight back like this with a perfect weekend is very positive. It was really important, especially for the team, to keep the motivation high and keep pushing, and these kind of results definitely do that. Now we are looking forward: We are back in the fight.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“After the mistake last evening, we needed to look forward and see what we can take from the final day and the Power Stage. I had a good feeling on the first run over the stage and we were second quickest. After that we relaxed over the next two stages and saved our tyres for the Power Stage, where we had a very good run. I think it was cleaning and drying out a little bit behind us and in that sense I’m really happy to be third quickest. It’s been a hard event but the most important thing is that the car is performing really well and I was able to be on the pace.”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“Today was nice. We had to catch a couple of cars in front of us to take eighth place. In the Power Stage I think the road cleaned a bit for the guys running at the back but we did what we could. It was a struggle from the recce and through day one, and I made a mistake at the start of day two. Still, we took some points for the team and it’s great to see Ott take the victory. I’m just desperate to have a clean rally now, as we have the speed to fight for the podium on every event.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY CHILE
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3h15m53.8s
2 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +23.1s
3 Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +30.2s
4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m36.7s
5 Teemu Suninen/Marko Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3m15.6s
6 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +3m45.4s
7 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +4m39.0s
8 Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) +7m52.5s
9 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +8m16.1s
10 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +8m33.4s
11 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +10m59.2s
(Results as of 17:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The WRC returns to Europe for Rally Portugal (May 30-June 2). Based in Matosinhos near Porto in the north of the country, the event features classic stages on sandy and rocky roads. Grip can be difficult to find on the soft roads during the first pass through the stages, while rocks can be exposed and deep ruts can form during the second pass.