2019 Rally Chile: Tänak Pulls Further Away at the Top

by Steven Batey

Ott Tänak increased his lead to 30.3 seconds at the end of two day on Rally Chile over Sebastien Ogier as championship leader Thierry Neuville escaped serious injury following a huge accident.

Hyundai driver Neuville ran wide on a tricky right-hand corner and clipped a bank that forced his i20 Coupe WRC into rolling seven times before eventually coming to a halt further down the stage. Both him and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul were taken to hospital for checks, but the pair only suffered bruising.

With Tänak adding to his lead throughout Saturday including winning two of the six stages, more drama was to come as Jari-Matti Latvala, who had been running third after Neuville’s accident, hit a rock on the final stage of the day that broke the differential on his Yaris WRC and he was forced to retire.

Loeb is third going into Sunday. Photo Credit: Jaanus Ree/RedBull Content Pool

This promoted Sebastien Loeb into the final podium spot after a fine drive on Saturday by the nine-time champion. His position was also aided after Ogier ahead strugged with the bad weather that descended on stage 12, and the pair are split by just 5.1 seconds with four stages remaining on Sunday.

In fourth is M-Sport Ford’s Elfyn Evans, with the Welshman complaining of the Ford Fiesta being unstable in some of the high-speed gravel corners; teammate Teemu Suninen completes the top five overall, albeit nearly two minutes down on his teammate.

Esapekka Lappi is running closely behind Suninen with the two drivers separated by just 10.3 seconds and Andreas Mikkelsen sits in seventh in the third Hyundai.

Kris Meeke is the final classified WRC competitor running in Chile but is down in tenth overall after the Irishman rolled his Yaris WRC on the opening stage on Saturday. He managed to continue, although he lost over six minutes as a result.

The Skoda driver leads WRC2 PRO. Photo Credit: Jaanus Ree/RedBull Content Pool

WRC2 PRO sees Kalle Rovanperä leading from Mads Østberg, with the young Finn having a 33.9 second lead over the Citroen C3 R5 driver. Gus Greensmith sits third in the class, but over two minutes behind the pair. Takamoto Katsuta has a tight lead over Alberto Heller in WRC2 going into Sunday.

Four stages remain on Sunday on 2019 Rally Chile, with the event being concluded with the Wolf Power Stage.

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