M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen both gained ground during the second day of competition at Rally Chile – their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs now holding fourth and fifth places overall.
Evans and co-driver Scott Martin made another good start – setting the third fastest time on the opening speed test and taking time out of nine-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb for what is now the third step of the podium.
As the day wore on the Brits struggled to match the Frenchman on certain sections, but despite falling adrift of the fight at the front Evans delivered a clean and conscientious drive – consolidating his position and proving the pace of the Fiesta; just 0.7 seconds shy of the fastest time through the changeable weather in the closing speed test.
Upping their pace in the drier conditions, Teemu Suninen and co-driver Marko Salminen reined in Andreas Mikkelsen on the opening stage; and built a 40 second advantage over the more experienced Norwegian throughout the day.
Currently holding fifth place, Suninen and Salminen are now locked in an intense battle with fellow countrymen Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferme – 10.3 seconds separating the battling Finns with just 58.38 competitive kilometres left to contest tomorrow.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“It’s good to have both cars in the top-five at the end of the day, but we’re still not quite where we wanted to be. Elfyn started the day well and was battling for what would become the podium positions, but he fell away from that fight as the day wore on.
“We’re not too sure why that was, but we’re all discovering these stages for the first time and it looks as though he just didn’t manage to get into the same rhythm on some particular sections. That said, he still delivered a very clean and clever drive – just like Teemu.
“Teemu’s had a much more enjoyable day. He got past Mikkelsen this morning and managed to put a big gap between himself and the Norwegian. Lappi set some strong times this afternoon and is now just 10 seconds behind Teemu – so we could see an exciting battle of the Finns through tomorrow’s final stages.”
Elfyn Evans (4th) said:
“It’s not been a bad day by all means and it’s good to be in fourth place at the end of the day. We’ve been pushing pretty hard, but there are still some areas where we’re struggling to find the ultimate confidence in the car; in the high-speed sections I just don’t have the stability that I’m used to. The stages are tighter and more twisty tomorrow, but the gaps are pretty big now and I don’t think we’ll have an opportunity to do anything on pace alone. But we’ll keep pushing and see what happens.”
Teemu Suninen (5th) said:
“It was a more enjoyable day today – we had better pace and were able to set some good times. We’re now in fifth place, but Esapekka [Lappi] will be keeping the pressure on tomorrow. I just need to focus on myself and my driving and do the best job I can.”
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:41:05.5
2. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Citroen C3 WRC) +30.3
3. Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +35.4
4. Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:06.3
5. Teemu Suninen / Marko Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:03.0
6. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferme (Citroen C3 WRC) +3:13.3
7. Andreas Mikkelsen / Andreas Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +3:43.4
8. Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) +6:33.2
9. Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 R5) +7:09.3
10. Kris Meeke / Sebastian Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +7:21.9