Thu 28 Sep 2023

Charging Evans fastest in Chile shakedown

Elfyn Evans was the man to beat on Thursday morning as the Welshman set the pace in Rally Chile Bio Bío’s shakedown stage.

Evans, who pilots a GR Yaris for Toyota Gazoo Racing, starts this 11th round of the FIA World Rally Championship 33 points adrift of leading team-mate Kalle Rovanperä. A result of eighth or higher for him would guarantee the title fight continues.  

Just 0.5sec split the title-hunting duo after multiple passes of the 5.75km Bio Bío shakedown stage near to the Concepcion service park, with Evans setting the benchmark on his second and penultimate run.   “It was quite okay,” said Evans.

“There's quite a difference in the conditions this week, especially from Friday to Saturday, so it will be quite difficult to make a call in terms of [car] set-up."

Chile is hosting a WRC round for just the second time and the rally route has been changed dramatically since it debuted in 2019.  

Its flowing forest roads and picturesque landscapes are already proving popular amongst the drivers. M-Sport Ford Puma driver Pierre Louis Loubet, who finished shakedown 1.1sec down on Evans in third, said: “It looks very nice. The stages are very enjoyable so I hope we will enjoy this rally.”  

Teemu Suninen, in action for the first time since Secto Rally Finland in August, was the highest-placed Hyundai i20 N driver in fourth. He headed Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta by two-tenths of a second while Thierry Neuville, also driving a Hyundai, was a single tenth further back.  

Ott Tänak won the event in 2019 but could only muster the seventh-best time in his Puma ahead of Esapekka Lappi. Grégoire Munster and Alberto Heller, both making their maiden starts aboard Rally1 machinery completed the top 10.

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