Always very comfortable when tackling stages for the first time, after just two runs in recce, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will be aiming to rack up their fifth podium of the season at this new round, adding to the overall wins at Monte-Carlo and in Mexico and top-three finishes in Corsica (2nd) and Argentina (3rd). Although they are still fine-tuning certain points with the team as they adapt to the C3 WRC, the win in Mexico and the podium in Argentina, along with ten stage wins set at these two events, confirm that they are already comfortable in the car on gravel. Currently occupying the runners-up spot in the championship standings, they will be starting second on the road on day one. This position should provide them with the beginnings of a line to follow if conditions are dry, and may offer a significant advantage if it rains.
Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm still need to rack up more miles in the C3 WRC on this surface, which is why their approach will be about building their pace during the event, whilst also gradually showing the full extent of their undeniable potential. For once, the Finnish pair, who are one of the least experienced crews in the championship, will not be at a disadvantage compared with their rivals as regards knowledge of the roads. Starting eighth on Friday’s leg – provided the weather stays dry – also means that the roads will be swept clear of loose gravel and dust by those higher up the running order, thus enabling them to get their bearings more quickly.
As testing is forbidden outside of Europe, the quick transition from Argentina to Chile ruled out the option of holding any more tests. However, Citroën Total World Rally Team also prepared for Chile during the four-day test session it held in Portugal ahead of both South American rounds. The road surfaces are nonetheless somewhat different between Argentina and Chile, so Citroën’s engineers used all of the information available to them to adapt the basic set-up of the C3 WRC. They will also be looking to use the shakedown, due to be held on representative roads, to confirm the direction taken.
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