In the second part of our Copec Rally Chile review, we look at the driver who endured a weekend he will not remember with fondness and spotlight the crew which kept the pace high despite battling against a wounded car.
You’ll Never Believe It
After rolling his Toyota Yaris in Saturday morning’s opening Rio Lia special stage, Kris Meeke wasn’t about to let cosmetic damage halt him. With the car running well and the damaged windscreen removed, Meeke and co-driver Seb Marshall blasted into the next Maria Las Cruces test.
With eye shields fixed to their helmets, the intrepid duo threw caution to the wind - literally – and sped to a remarkable fourth fastest time, just 3.7sec adrift of stage winner Sébastien Loeb, through the 23.09km test. They repeated the feat in the following Pelún stage.
After being buffeted by their al fresco drive, Meeke admitted: “It was difficult to see and really difficult to breathe when the speed got up!”
Stage of the Rally
We’re taking a bit of a cheat on this rally. Chile’s ceremonial start was not a stage – but there were plenty of stages involved……
What a night last Thursday was! Tens of thousands of people packed Concepción’s Plaza de la Independencia to send the rally on its way with colour, noise and traditional south American passion.
‘Special’ was the word used by many to describe a pulsating opening to what proved to be a superb weekend.
One to Forget
Having taken a confident second place behind Hyundai i20 team-mate Thierry Neuville just two weeks earlier in Argentina, Andreas Mikkelsen appeared to have put a troubling lack of form behind him.
Sadly for the likeable Norwegian, the podium position failed to provide a springboard for similar success in Chile.
Mikkelsen clouted a rock in Friday morning’s opening stage and the impact seemed to knock the confidence out of him. He complained of a lack of stability from the i20 and spent much of the weekend tinkering with the set-up to find a balance with which he was happy.
His trust in new pace notes evaporated and when Neuville crashed, the emphasis was on bringing the car home safely for manufacturer points in a disappointing seventh.