Andreas Mikkelsen continued his rich vein of form by winning shakedown at Copec Rally Chile on Thursday afternoon.
The Norwegian, who claimed a morale-boosting second in Argentina two weeks ago after a lean start to the season, was fastest through the 6.45km test at San Pedro de la Paz by 1.0sec.
Rain made the opening runs wet and muddy but as conditions dried the pace increased and Mikkelsen, driving a Hyundai i20, posted his benchmark time in the last of three passes.
Shakedown provided the first opportunity for the WRC’s big names to sample Chile’s roads at speed as the south American country becomes the 32nd to host a round of the FIA World Rally Championship - and the first newcomer since Bulgaria in 2010.
World champion Sébastien Ogier set the early pace in his Citroën C3. The Frenchman was fastest in the first run before Kris Meeke went quickest in the second pass. He was eclipsed by Mikkelsen’s late surge after a delay meant shakedown was extended.
Toyota Yaris drivers Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala filled the remaining top three places. The Estonian edged Latvala by 0.2sec.
Thierry Neuville, bidding for a WRC treble after victories in Corsica and Argentina, was fourth in his i20, 1.4sec further back. Elfyn Evans and Meeke completed the top six.
Chile’s Minister for Sport, Paulina Kantor Pupkin, and Biobió region senator Jacqueline van Rysselberghe enjoyed a high-speed ride through the test with WRC 2 Pro driver Gus Greensmith and Lorenzo Bertelli respectively.
The leading times were:
|1.||Andreas Mikkelsen||Hyundai i20||4min 46.4sec|
|2.||Ott Tänak||Toyota Yaris||+1.0sec|
|3.||Jari-Matti Latvala||Toyota Yaris||+1.2sec|
|4.||Thierry Neuville||Hyundai i20||+2.6sec|
|5.||Elfyn Evans||Ford Fiesta||+3.7sec|
|6.||Kris Meeke||Toyota Yaris||+3.9sec|
|7.||Sébastien Ogier||Citroën C3||+4.0sec|
|8.||Sébastien Loeb||Hyundai i20||+4.5sec|
|9.||Teemu Suninen||Ford Fiesta||+5.4sec|
|10.||Esapekka Lappi||Citroën C3||+5.5sec|