WRC Chile: Tanak's Inspiring Performance Leads Friday, Suninen Close Behind

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WRC Chile: Tanak’s Inspiring Performance Leads Friday, Suninen Close Behind

M-Sport’s Ott Tanak took charge of an eventful Friday at Rally Chile, leading the pack after six challenging gravel stages. He held a 4.2-second advantage over Hyundai’s Teemu Suninen, who delivered an impressive performance in only his third Rally1 start.

Tanak started the day by winning the opening stage, but he briefly lost the lead due to a spin and a hybrid issue in stage two. Nevertheless, the 2019 world champion rallied back with two stage wins in the afternoon to regain the top spot.

Elfyn Evans from Toyota led the rally after the morning loop but struggled with the road position, dropping to third, 12.7 seconds behind Tanak.

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville overcame handling difficulties in the morning to snatch fourth place (+27.7 seconds) from championship leader Kalle Rovanpera, who faced a tough time but managed to reach service only 38.7 seconds behind.

Credit by: motorsport.com

Takamoto Katsuta held sixth in the third Toyota, followed by Rally1 rookie Gregoire Munster from M-Sport. Unfortunately, Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi and M-Sport’s Pierre-Louis Loubet had to retire from the rally after rolling their cars in stages one and three, respectively.

The battle for the lead involved tire strategy as Tanak chose a package of six soft tires, helping him secure stage wins. Suninen, running two hard and two soft tires, maintained a strong performance, keeping close to Tanak in the overall standings.

Loose gravel conditions continued to challenge early runners, with Evans reporting increased instability. Despite this, he held onto third place, 14.7 seconds ahead of Rovanpera.

Rally1 rookie Munster, equipped with his pacenote book after an earlier mishap, posted the sixth fastest time in stage five, ahead of Katsuta.

Credit by: motorsport.com

The day’s final stage saw Tanak extending his lead with another stage win, while Suninen faced mysterious issues with his Hyundai.

Additionally, Rovanpera’s rare mistake led to a brief off-road excursion, costing him precious time and allowing Neuville to move into fourth place.

In WRC2, Sami Pajari led the class and held eighth place overall, with Oliver Solberg following closely despite damaged rear suspension.

As the rally continues, six more stages await the crews on Saturday.

Reference:

https://www.autosport.com/wrc/news/wrc-chile-evans-leads-as-lappi-loubet-suffer-high-speed-rolls/10526857/

https://dirtfish.com/rally/wrc/tanak-on-top-after-first-day-of-rally-chile/

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