Hyundai Motorsport has concluded the penultimate day of Rally Chile firmly in the hunt for a podium in the first-ever FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) event in the country. Saturday, however, came with contrasting fortunes for the team’s trio of crews. A morning loop of three stages – Rio Lia (20.90km), Maria Las Cruces (23.09km), and Pelun (16.59km) – was repeated in the afternoon with lunchtime service splitting the two passes. More unknown gravel terrain created a renewed learning curve for all crews, as they adapted to undiscovered routes.
Sébastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena completed a strong Saturday in an improved third place overall, having taken two stage wins and three additional top-two stage times. The nine-time WRC champions gradually closed the gap to the podium during the day, ultimately taking the position after dramas for Jari-Matti Latvala. In the process, they also reduced the gap to second-placed Sébastien Ogier to 5.1-seconds.
Following a competitive start to the morning with a stage win, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul suffered a heavy accident in SS8, which put them out of the rally. Thankfully, the crew was unharmed and will return for the next round of the championship in Portugal. Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jæger-Amland have continued to chase manufacturer points on the tricky Chilean stages, in seventh place overall.
Crew Notes: Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (#19 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Stage win in SS8 (Maria Las Cruces 1), SS12 (Pelun 2) and three top-two stage times (SS9-11)
Moved into podium positions on the final stage of the afternoon loop
Loeb said: “We have had a very good day, I would say. The last stage was tricky because there was a lot of fog at the beginning. I had to stay concentrated. We have had a great feeling from the i20 Coupe WRC on the stages today, which has allowed us to get a good rhythm and to find the pace that we need to fight near the front. I feel that I’m starting to understand how to drive the car and to find the confidence to get the times we need. Our goal remains to get as many points as possible for the team.”
Crew Notes: Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger-Amland (#89 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Seventh place overall for the Norwegian crew
Will target any improvements on the final day to score manufacturer points
Mikkelsen said: “We started the morning loop just taking it very carefully as we were discovering the new routes and didn’t want to take any risks. We tried to maintain our concentration and stay safe at the same time. It was better this afternoon; I had a good feeling with the car and we stepped up the pace a little bit. I had good fun driving the car in the second pass.”
Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (#11 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Stage win in SS7 (Rio Lia – 20.90km)
Crash in SS8 (Maria Las Cruces – 23.09km) put end to the crew’s rally
Neuville said: “The most important thing is that Nicolas and myself are both fine and in good condition after our crash. My pace notes were obviously too optimistic during the recce. The car did its job of absorbing the heavy impacts, and we didn’t suffer any serious injuries, thankfully, but went to the hospital to be correctly examined. I am already looking forward to the next rally. We have shown that we are constantly improving with the team, and the car is going faster with stronger speed. We will surely be up there in Portugal, a rally we won last year.”
Team Director Andrea Adamo: “The main comment I can make today is that the job done by the FIA and the manufacturers in recent years has been paid back in full. We have to say thanks on both sides of the sport. We cannot say it’s a good day when we have to lose a car in situations like that, especially when Thierry and Nicolas demonstrated their ability to fight for a good podium position. At the same time, we have to say thank you to the big job of Sébastien and Daniel, who have had a competitive Saturday, catching up positions. They are just five seconds from second place, so Sunday will be a day for which we will try to capture as many points as we can. It would be a nice reward for the efforts of the whole team recently.”
Sunday at a glance Four stages remain on the Rally Chile itinerary: two attempts through Bio Bio (12.52km), the second run acting as the Power Stage, as well as Lircay (18.06km) and San Nicolas (15.28km). A total of 58.38km of competitive stages will take place on the final day as crews battle it out for positions and extra driver points in the Power Stage.
Classification after Day Two
1 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Toyota Yaris WRC 2:41:05.5
2 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Citroën C3 WRC +30.3
3 S. Loeb D. Elena Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +35.4
4 E. Evans S. Martin Ford Fiesta WRC +1:06.3
5 T. Suninen M. Salminen Ford Fiesta WRC +3:03.0
6 E. Lappi J. Ferm Citroën C3 WRC +3:13.3
7 A. Mikkelsen A. Jæger-Amland Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +3:43.4
Press release Hyundai Motorsport