Fri 25 Aug 2023

Rally1 dreams come true for Chile’s Alberto Heller

A lifelong dream is about to materialise for Alberto Heller as he prepares to take the wheel of an M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 at Rally Chile Bio Bío (28 September - 1 October).

Having clinched last year’s national title in his native Chile as well as romping to WRC2 glory in Australia in 2018, Heller is taking the opportunity to immerse himself at the highest echelon of elite motorsport and will step into a top-level car for his home WRC round next month.

Few can boast of sharing the title of team-mate with the likes of 2019 WRC champion Ott Tänak. But, at round 11, Heller will do just that. And it all started when the 29-year-old began to delve into the route for this year’s fixture, which returns to the calendar for the first time since 2019.

“The rally, at the beginning, was in the Bio Bío region,” Heller told, “but focused only in Concepción. In the final part of last year, I started to push with my team and all of the organisers to divide a bit the rally to include all of the Bio Bío region, and include my hometown called Los Ángeles - it is the second-biggest city in the region.

“They decided to put the start ceremony there (in Los Ángeles) and it was like a dream, you know? Starting my home rally in my hometown where I have all of my friends, my school, my life.

“That was the first punch to decide to go in this WRC car. The second punch was that I won the [national] championship in Chile last year. It was like the perfect storm for me - because I am arriving at my best driving moment.”

Driving a Puma puts Heller in a select club of privateers to have experienced the thrill of hybrid-powered Rally1 machinery. Greekman Jourdan Serderidis is a WRC regular in a similar car while Lorenzo Bertelli rented a Toyota GR Yaris for Rally Sweden earlier this year.

“I think it’s a dream for all rally drivers, to one day have the chance to drive a world-class car.” Heller admitted. “It’s a chance that you need to take because, if not, you will not repeat it again, you know?

“For my part, my routine of the day is that I work. I am a commercial engineer and before that I started to put in my achievements a lot of things. I won the WRC2 class in Australia, I competed with M-Sport and I have competed with Citroën. After that I arrived to Chile and I won the championship. Now, I want to take maybe more relaxed my career and the best way to make to make it was in my home and in a WRC car.

“My goal is to try to have fun,” he continued. “Imagine, the top, top drivers are in this category in the top, top cars. For me to come and think I can make a podium or something like that would be quite stupid. I am rational and I want to go to have fun, to enjoy and for sure give my best.”

Rally Chile Bio Bío organisers have devised a three-day, 16-stage itinerary comprising a competitive distance of over 320km on flowing gravel roads. Heller anticipates the Friday stages with fervour, particularly the two runs through Rio Claro.

“For me, the stages of Friday are really close to my hometown and these are the stages that I love. There is one called Rio Claro, the third stage of Friday, and for me it’s the most amazing stage.”

Heller will be in the UK next month to carry out a pre-event test for his Rally1 debut. He plans to clock at least 150 kilometres in the car at M-Sport’s Greystoke Forest facility.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM