Rally Chile will continue to evolve its route for next season – despite this year’s event being widely credited as having some of the world’s best stages.
The South American event, back on the World Rally Championship schedule for the first time since 2019 last week, will evolve its itinerary to potentially include a street stage in Concepción again.
Rally Chile chief Felipe Horta told DirtFish the event had plenty more great roads on offer for next season.
“We will keep some of this year’s stages for next time,” he said. “Maybe Saturday’s roads, but in a different way, we don’t know yet. But it’s sure that we have many, many, many roads in the Arauco forest. Don’t forget Arauco is the second biggest forestry company in the world – we have so many roads.
“We can make some changes and make even better stages!”
Talking about the ceremonies on the eve of the gravel roads, he added: “We are thinking we might come back to Concepción for the start and maybe a street stage like the one we ran in 2019. There’s a lot to think about, but my planning for Rally Chile 2024 starts immediately.”
The only issue for Rally Chile last week was the traffic around the service park as thousands of fans poured in and wanted to park their cars.
“The traffic was a huge problem,” Horta said. “We are looking at this and we will consider a new place for the service park next time. Of course, all of the cities have traffic, but Concepción is a little bit more complicated because of the geography and having to cross the river.”
Local hero and M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid driver Alberto Heller is, predictably, looking forward to next year’s event already.
“In this area, with the forests we have, we can make 100 rallies,” Heller said. “We have a lot of amazing roads – we have even more in the south of Chile.
“This event was magic. I hope next year everyone can come back – we will be waiting.”
Chile’s atmosphere was México-esque
The riot van – complete with water canon – looked briefly like it might actually be needed. As the Heller brothers hurled more and more caps into the crowd, the fans went increasingly bananas.
But it was all very good natured, all very good fun and an incredible way for South America to welcome the World Rally Championship back.
There were some who questioned moving the ceremonial start almost 100 miles away from Concepción, but the organizer knew what it was doing. Firstly, it was spreading the footprint, the appeal and the love of the rally across the Biobío region and secondly it was taking it to the home of the nation’s most famous rallying family.
Alberto Heller was loving life, in a car capable of winning his home round of the WRC – and his home round of the WRC started a stone’s throw from where he grew up. That crowd consisted of his family, his friends and his neighbors.
“My school,” he said, “is 300 meters over there and my house is four kilometers in that direction. Honestly, this is incredible. It’s like a dream come true.”
His voice waivered with the emotion, but then he had to go. Not to start the rally, but because thousands of people were chanting his name. And asking for a cap.
Ceremonial starts in the Americas have a habit of being special. The benchmark is, and has been for the last two decades, León. Los Angeles was good on Thursday night, but it couldn’t match a light show being beamed off Guanajuato’s historic cityscape before a rapturous crowd watched the cars being launched onto the first stage.
But Chile gave México a run for its money.
The show was well choreographed and well put together, all with a stunning backdrop of a setting sun which was slowly painting the Andes a deeper and deeper shade of pink.
Superb. Welcome back Chile.