Thumbs-up for Chile stages
The WRC’s stars have delivered across-the-board praise for the special stages at FIA World Rally Championship newcomer Copec Rally Chile (9 - 12 May).
Crews drove the 16 speed tests twice to make pace notes during two days of recce and were enthusiastic about the variety and challenge offered by the predominantly forest tracks.
Several drivers likened the dirt roads near Concepción to those found in Finland, Australia and Britain and world champion Sébastien Ogier led the praise.
“They look beautiful. Most of the stages are in nice condition, with a smooth surface most of the time. There are some fast stages, especially if you look at Saturday, but some parts are also very technical,” said the Citroën C3 driver.
Title rival Ott Tänak admitted he was surprised by the smooth nature of the hard-packed forest tracks, regularly used by logging trucks.
“If you come to south America you expect rough conditions and really challenging roads. Yes, they are challenging and their rhythm is constantly changing, but they are very nice.
“The best part may be Sunday, where the roads are quite narrow but with a lot of jumps and crests. The rally starts with some quite slow sections and gradually gets faster, faster, faster,” said the Toyota Gazoo driver.
Andreas Mikkelsen, who was fastest on Thursday’s shakedown, spotlighted Friday’s longest leg as the toughest.
“Friday is the key day for getting a good result. The stages look quite slippery and with the weather forecast for some rain, it will be an advantage to be early on the road,” said the Hyundai i20 driver.
He promised caution at the many potential cuts, where the brave can shave vital tenths of a second from their time by straight-lining corners.
“It’s really hard to see the dangers of rocks and tree stumps. They have cut the sides of the roads and left the vegetation on top, so you don’t know what’s underneath. You can go faster through the corner if you cut, but you never know what’s there. One mistake and your rally is over,” he added.
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