Copec Rally Chile winner Ott Tänak led the praise for the country’s FIA World Rally Championship debut last weekend.
The Estonian led the Concepción-based event from the second stage and admitted the forest roads above the Pacific coast now featured among his favourites.
“The atmosphere from the ceremonial start on Thursday night was really special,” Tänak said. “It was really good to see so many fans, so many people coming out to support the rally and this was the same all the time in the event.
“When we were coming here, the weather was not so good. There was some rain and the fog was there in the recce. We could see the roads were nice, but it was difficult to see everything. When the rain stopped, the stages have been really nice and some of the best.
“This was a challenging, tough rally. It had a little bit of everything, with the grip changing all the time in the first day.”
Citroën Racing team principal Pierre Budar was equally happy.
“The event was a successful addition to the championship. Having driven on the stages in recce, I have to say they really are very attractive. The roads are fast and undulating, but also highly varied.
“We have also been very warmly welcomed by the local fans. They were especially noisy and enthusiastic at the ceremonial start and finish, but were also out in big numbers on the stages and in the service park,” he said.
FIA rally director Yves Matton admitted he was impressed with Chile’s debut.
“The stages were interesting and challenging for the drivers and there was a lot of passion in the service park from the fans,” he said. “I was also out on the stages and saw more of the same there. It was nice to see the camping vans with the fans – this is part of the DNA of the sport.
“For me, it’s obvious Chile is a destination for the WRC. It’s the first year and we know how difficult it is to jump from national rallying to the WRC and there are things to improve in the organisation.
“But we will continue to work, along with WRC Promoter, to have experts in the organisation and have this event at the highest level. With the motivation of the team in Chile, I’m convinced they can achieve to be at the top level in the future.”
Matton was quick to praise the Chilean federation for a strong entry, adding: “We saw 63 cars on the entry list and that’s important. There has been a lot of work from people in Chile to apply FIA rules and bring FIA cars to Chile. This shows now it’s making sense [for this country] to join the World Rally Championship.”