Tänak, driving a Ford Puma Rally1 for M-Sport Ford, seized the lead of the South American fixture on Friday and, thanks to clever tyre tactics, built a commanding buffer which he carried through to Sunday.
Teemu Suninen went off the road in Sunday's penultimate stage. And, while the Hyundai i20 N driver's demise elevated team-mate Thierry Neuville to second overall, it also opened the door for Toyota Gazoo Racing to clinch the manufacturers' title with two rallies to spare.
Suninen’s demise meant the Japanese marque needed to score four
bonus points more than Hyundai, for whom Neuville was the only driver, in the
Wolf Power Stage. It did exactly that, with GR Yaris stars Kalle Rovanperä and
Elfyn Evans setting the first and second-fastest times respectively.
“I am really proud
of the team and the drivers and all the work we have done during the season,”
expressed Toyota Gazoo Racing Team Principal Jari-Matti Latvala.
“It is the earliest
we have ever as Toyota Gazoo Racing got the title so it shows we have done
Evans’ result of third overall was enough to keep the
drivers’ championship battle alive as he headed points-leading GR Yaris
team-mate Rovanperä, celebrating his 23rd birthday today, by 1min
Rovanperä now leads the series by 31 points and could clinch
the title at round 12 of 13 by scoring higher than Evans.
Almost five minutes back from the lead in a lonely fifth
overall was Takamoto Katsuta, driving a similar Toyota. The remainder of the
leaderboard comprised of WRC2 runners with Oliver Solberg winning the category
ahead of Gus Greensmith, Sami Pajari, Yohan Rossel and Nikolay Gryazin.
The WRC returns to Europe shortly for Central European
Rally, a brand-new tri-country fixture. The asphalt event takes places from 26
- 29 October across Germany, Austria and Czech Republic.
*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA