Mads Østberg can preserve his unbeaten record in this year’s WRC 2 Pro category with a third win at this week’s Copec Rally Chile (9 - 12 May).
The Norwegian added victory in Argentina two weeks ago to success in Sweden and arrives for the second part of south America’s double-header third in the title battle. He has started one round fewer than leader Lukasz Pieniazek and second-placed Gus Greensmith.
Østberg gained his first experience of Chile’s gravel roads at a test in his Citroën C3 R5 on Monday.
“It was a bit different than expected, so we tried practically every option possible, trying to use the experience we have from our previous rally and testing,” said Østberg.
Pieniazek, who heads Greensmith by four points, is absent but the Briton is present for the WRC’s first visit to Chile to defend a four-point advantage in his Ford Fiesta over Østberg.
“The organisers provided some onboard videos that I have spent a lot of time studying, but it’s hard to get an exact feel for how the stages will be, especially in terms of how wide or narrow they will be,” he explained.
Skoda Motorsport duo Kalle Rovanperä and Marco Bulacia complete the Pro entrants in Fabias, Bolivian Bulacia having recovered from a massive shunt in Argentina.
Benito Guerra has the opportunity to extend his lead in WRC 2 after capturing top spot in Argentina, despite rolling his Fabia in the opening leg. The Mexican is three points clear of Ole Christian Veiby and 15 ahead of Nikolay Gryazin, both of whom are absent.
His strongest challengers are likely to be Chilean brothers Pedro and Alberto Heller. Pedro, who won the Argentine round, lies sixth, two places behind Alberto. Both drive Fiestas.
Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta is the other championship regular following the withdrawal of Pole Kajetan Kajetanowicz, who pulled out after retiring his Volkswagen Polo in Argentina.
The rest of the 18-strong WRC 2 entry is dominated by Chilean drivers. Three members of the Israel family, Benjamin, Vicente and cousin Samuel, are entered in C3s while eight-time national champion Jorge Martínez drives a Fabia at his hometown event.
Also entered is Francisco López, winner of the SxS category at this year’s Dakar Rally.
Head to WRC+ to watch All Live from Copec Rally Chile, including every stage broadcast live, breaking service park news and expert studio analysis.
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Your guide to this week’s action
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Skoda’s new car set for WRC debut
Sunday in WRC 2: Østberg wins Pro
Heller claims WRC 2 win