WRC – Tänak on top as crews discover Chile challenges | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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WRC – Tänak on top as crews discover Chile challenges

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WRC - 2019 Rally Chile - Friday morning

2019 Rally Chile - O. Tänak / M. Järveoja

Toyota’s Ott Tänak leads his FIA World Rally Championship rivals Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville this Friday after the opening loop of stages at the inaugural Rally Chile.

The first three stages took place on forest roads to the south of the host city Concepción, testing the crews’ brand new pace-notes that they made during the pre-event recce, as well as their car setups in conditions that were drier than in the first Shakedown test on Thursday.

Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala were quickest as Leg 1 went underway, the Toyota team-mates tied in setting the fastest time on the 17.11 kilometer El Pinar opener. Tänak and Ogier lost time overshooting a corner after a narrow bridge, both stalling in the process.

Tänak responded with the stage win on El Puma, 3.2 seconds quicker than Ogier and moving into a 2.9s lead over the Citroën driver. Neuville snatched the third best time, 3.4s behind Ogier, after the stage was interrupted for safety reasons soon after he started. Most of the other drivers - including Meeke and Latvala - lost considerable time to the top three in the stage, struggling with very demanding and slippery conditions on the hard surface gravel road.

Neuville set the fastest time in the third stage of the morning, Espigado, moving with his Hyundai to 0.5s off second-placed Ogier overall. Tänak was just 0.7s slower in the stage and increased his lead over Ogier to 6.1s.

Latvala was second fastest, 0.2s behind Neuville, to move past Meeke into fourth place, 12.9s away from the lead.

Elfyn Evans was third fastest on SS1 but he slipped back and is now in sixth place. Sébastien Loeb, Andreas Mikkelsen, Teemu Suninen and Esapekka Lappi complete the top 10, with Lappi stopping briefly in SS1 after running wide on one turn.

Mads Østberg leads the FIA WRC 2 Pro class for Citroën after having scored the three fastest times of the morning loop, increasing his advantage over Škoda driver Kalle Rovanperä from 4s to 10.9s in SS3. Gus Greensmith is in third place with his M-Sport run Ford Fiesta R5, another 31.s further.

Takamoto Katsuta claimed an early lead in the FIA WRC 2 category before local hero Alberto Heller hit the front in SS2, with only 4.4s now separating the two Ford drivers. Disaster struck Alberto’s brother Pedro in the opening stage: he had to retire after rolling his Fiesta R5.