Tänak on top after first day of Rally Chile

The M-Sport driver heads Hyundai's Teemu Suninen by just 4.2 seconds


Ott Tänak extended his Rally Chile lead on the final stage of Friday, his third stage win of the day, to lead Teemu Suninen overnight.

The M-Sport Ford driver diverged from his rivals by using four soft compound tires for the afternoon loop, while they used a combination of hards and softs, and it proved to be a masterful strategic choice – at least in the short-term – as Tänak went from being 0.9 seconds off the lead at the start of the loop to leading by 4.2s at the end of it.

Hyundai’s Suninen was the second fastest driver through the second pass of Rio Claro and is Tänak’s closest rival in the overall classification, while a disgruntled but committed Thierry Neuville was third fastest in his Hyundai.

Still occupying third place overall is Toyota’s Elfyn Evans, who “felt worse” than he did through the first pass of the stage and “really struggled” with a lack of rear grip. He described parts of the stage as “exceptionally slippy”.

His team-mate Kalle Rovanperä, who was opening the road, said much the same and described it as “much more demanding than the first pass”. He really struggled for pace, going 17.8s slower than Tänak. Part of that gap was down to a half-spin early on, and he slipped past Neuville to fifth.

M-Sport’s Gregoire Munster, who is driving a Rally1 car for the first time, is seventh overall behind Takamoto Katsuta.

Sami Pajari holds the WRC2 lead by 13.3s over Oliver Solberg, and Nikolay Gryazin is 51.4s back in third place.

But both Solberg and Gryazin hit trouble – Solberg’s rear-left suspension breaking for the majority of SS6 and Gryazin rolling on SS5 but able to continue, despite the loss of his front windshield.

Title chasers Gus Greensmith and Yohan Rossel are fourth and seventh respectively.