Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced a fine display on day one of Rally Chile, ending Friday’s stages in second place. They are therefore ideally placed going into tomorrow’s second leg, where road order is expected to play a decisive role. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made it back to service this evening in tenth position, having spent the day building confidence and upping their pace bit by bit.
Described by the drivers as a subtle mix of Finland, Wales GB and Australia, this first ever Rally Chile served up a very tricky opening leg. The stages in the wooded sections, left damp by rain before the start, were especially slippery in the sections deprived of any sunshine.
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia made a solid start with the fourth fastest time on SS1, just 2.6s off the pace despite a minor overshoot, immediately putting themselves among the frontrunners. Their early pace reflected the quality of the work done in recce by the six-time world champions on these roads, which are new to everyone. The second stage tackled straight afterwards on El Puma (30.72km), the longest test of the weekend, saw them move up into second position. They went on to strengthen their hold on second throughout the day, despite the poor visibility in the dense forests, with dazzling sunshine one minute and gloomy, dark shadows the next. This solid opening leg means the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s French crew will have one of the most favourable starting positions (10th) tomorrow, on stages that are expected to be slightly quicker than today.
Keen to get their bearings back after their misfortune in Argentina, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm did not get off to the kind of start they were hoping for, with a spin on SS1 forcing them to use reverse gear. They then tried to gradually find their marks in the C3 WRC, whilst progressively increasing their pace with each stage, ending day one in tenth place.
Their classification means, however, that the Finnish pair will start tomorrow’s 121.16km-long leg (six stages) in second position, where roads are widely expected to clean more significantly than on the other legs.
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal : “Sébastien and Julien have had a pretty good first day, despite the tricky, low-grip conditions, thus confirming their ability to take effective pace notes in just two runs and adapt to unfamiliar road profiles. It also shows that the team has worked well to provide them with a better-prepared C3 WRC than in Argentina. We are now going to try and keep up this momentum, so they can continue to fight at the front. As regards Esapekka and Janne, they need more miles under their belt to be able to express their full potential. We’re doing everything we can to support them as effectively as possible as they rebuild their confidence. Their position in the standings is nonetheless consistent with that of the crews that have the same level of experience.”
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver : “It was a tricky first leg, so I’m pleased to have completed it without making any significant mistakes and having given it everything I have. It was difficult to match Ott’s pace this afternoon, but we’ll be back fighting tomorrow. The stages will be quicker, so I hope that will suit us a bit more. In any case, I’m pleased with the improvements made to my C3 WRC in the short timeframe available after Argentina.”
Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver : “Obviously, I was hoping for more from today’s opening leg, but it was a really complicated day for many of us. My pace and my confidence in the car were better in the afternoon, though.”
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1 Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:24:12.8
2 Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +22.4
3 Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +28.8
4 Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +29.5
5 Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 46.5
6 Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +48.7
7 Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:01.4
8 Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:08.1
9 Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:09.1
10 Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +2:18.3
Press release Citroën Racing