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M-Sport Ford World Rally Team is gearing up for an exhilarating return to South America as it prepares to tackle the thrilling terrain of Rally Chile later this week. The eagerly anticipated return to the event marks the last gravel round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship.

Four years after making its debut in the FIA World Rally Championship, Rally Chile returns to the calendar as the only South American event in the 2023 season. The team is set to make a strong statement at this highly anticipated event with a four-strong line-up of Puma Rally1 cars.

Ott Tänak, who tasted victory on the event's debut in 2019 with an impressive winning margin of 23.1 seconds, will be aiming to hunt down another Rally Chile triumph.

Pierre-Louis Loubet will make his event debut and is looking forward to the challenge of another all-new rally. Working with co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul, who has prior experience of the event, the pair aim for a strong performance to round off the season’s gravel events in style.

The team also welcomes Grégoire Munster and Alberto Heller into its Rally1 ranks for Rally Chile. Alberto Heller, returning to the team after his last Fiesta Rally2 outing in 2020, will make an emotional Rally1 debut on his home event - a dream opportunity for the Chilean youngster. Heller will look to make use of this home advantage, having by default the most experience on the stages in and around Concepción.

Grégoire Munster, alongside co-driver Louis Louka, will also make their Rally1 debut, stepping up from WRC2 after a productive season in the feeder category. Munster completed a day’s testing last week in the UK in preparation for the event, which will also see him make his first South American debut in the WRC.

M-Sport’s outing to Chile comes off the back of an already busy season, with the team’s return from Greece allowing only a few days to fully prepare the cars for their next bout, before they left via air freight to be ready to meet the team in Concepción tomorrow.

Richard Millener, Team Principal, said:

“It is great to be able to go back to Rally Chile, the return of the event has taken longer than we all hoped, but I am sure it will make for a great weekend of sport. I was lucky enough to drive most of the stages last time we were here, and the roads are great. A real mix of everything and it reminded me a lot of Wales. As well as having Ott and Pierre aiming for strong results as the gravel leg of the season comes to a close, it is a pleasure to be able to help Alberto [Heller] live out his dream, driving the top category of car in front of his home friends and fans, but also Gregoire [Munster] having the chance to also drive the Rally1 after a very strong season so far.”

Ott Tänak said:

“Most of the rally seems to be new again this year, also the weather plays a big part there, but all together stages should be very similar to what we have experienced in New Zealand or in Welsh forests.

“Sport is always at maximum effort whatever the conditions. As it's a case of more or less a new event again, we don’t know what kind of stages we will see. Generally rhythm wise, there used to be all kinds of stages in Chile from twisty and slow to fast and smooth. New roads always make it challenging and it takes extra effort to make the notes perfect. As the event is overseas and quite unique, we need to guess the car setup and hope all decisions are correct when we arrive at the start of stage one!"

Pierre-Louis Loubet said:

“It’ll be an amazing experience to go to Chile for the first time! It’s the first time for me rallying in South America, so I’m pleased about that. It looks like the rally will be a really nice event, quite slippery in some places from what I can tell, and that means it’s very important to be clever and to avoid any mistakes and stay on the line. There isn’t too much space to make mistakes. I think it’ll be an interesting rally.”

Grégoire Munster said:

“The challenge for Rally Chile will, of course, be driving in the top category. Everything is new for us in the car and in the team, as we’ll be working with different mechanics and engineers too. It’s a fun challenge ahead, I’ve never been to Chile before, and most of the stages are new so we cannot base much from previous onboards. We’re looking forward to it, I just want to make the best out of it and enjoy the rally. I hope to see improvements in our pace over the weekend and just really live the full experience of driving a Rally1 car.”

Alberto Heller said:

“I’m really excited about the rally, it’s a pleasure for me to drive in my home country, in my national rally. This is a great opportunity for me, the idea is to have the car in the middle of the road, drive through and try to build speed corner by corner. But the first challenge is to finish the rally, enjoy it with my people, and have an amazing experience to remember!”

Published 25 September 2023


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