Rally Chile BioBio Preview: WRC1

September 27, 2023Joe Moore

The 2024 WRC season continues this weekend with the 11th round, Rally Chile BioBio, find out everything you need to know below. 

Drivers’ Championship Rundown Heading Into Rally Chile BioBio

Kalle Rovanperä expanded his Drivers’ Championship lead with a win at EKO Acropolis Rally Greece. Rovanperä now leads Elfyn Evans by 33 points heading into Chile. Thierry Neuville looked like he was going to shrink the gap between himself and Evans in Greece. That was before his suspension broke on the third day ending his rally. Neuville now sits 33 points behind Evans heading into Rally Chile BioBio. Ott Tänak also remained in the same position, with Tänak staying fourth after Greece. Tänak pulled off a spectacular comeback to take home 4th place in Greece. After a mechanical issue forced Tänak to receive 1 minute and 40 seconds worth of late penalties. Tänak sits 15 points behind Neuville heading into this weekend. Sebastien Ogier remains in fifth after Greece. Much like Neuville, Ogier took home limited points after his suspension also broke on the same day. Ogier sits 20 points behind Tänak heading into Chile. Ogier however will not be driving this weekend. 

In A Prime Position 

With Sebastien Ogier skipping Rally Chile BioBio. Esapekka Lappi sits in a perfect position to move into fifth in the Drivers’ Championship. Lappi sits just 1 point behind Ogier heading into this weekend. Fifth isn’t the highest Lappi can move up to this weekend, however. As he sits just 21 points behind Ott Tänak for fourth. This means that if Tänak’s misfortune keeps up in Chile, Lappi could sit fourth in the championship by the end of the event. 

Teams Breakdown

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Toyota comes into Chile on top of the rallying world. The team currently hosts both championship contenders, in Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans, and will probably win the Manufacturers’ championship this weekend. Rovanperä has a slim chance to seal the Drivers’ championship this weekend. That likely won’t be on the top of Toyota’s mind this weekend, however. As all Toyota needs to do is finish first and second or have one of Neuville or Lappi struggle during the event to win the manufacturers’ championship. If Toyota does clinch the manufacturers’ championship this weekend, it’ll be their 4th consecutive manufacturers’ championship. Making them one of the most successful teams in WRC history, in case they haven’t already proved that. The normal Toyota crew will be at the event this weekend. With Rovanperä, Evans and Takamoto Katsuta competing for the team. 

Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT

With Hyundai, there isn’t much to talk about. The team hasn’t been great but they haven’t been bad either. They’re pretty much right in the middle. Sure you could talk about the poor reliability of the i20 but that’s been beaten to the point that it’s boring to talk about. Thierry Neuville, Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen will compete for the team this weekend. The Korean manufacturer needs a decent result, also known as a first and second-place finish. If they want to keep their slim chances at winning the manufacturers’ championship alive past Chile. Neuville’s drivers’ championship hopes ended in Greece. Unless by some streak of misfortune, both Rovanperä and Evans retire from the event or take home 0 points and Neuville takes home 30. Considering that Rovanperä rarely messes up there’s like a 10% chance this actually happens. 

M-Sport Ford WRT

Where do I start with M-Sport? I mean seriously they seem to have no luck. Loubet hasn’t finished a rally without an issue since Estonia. Tänak hasn’t finished one without an issue since Italy. M-Sport has to put up a good result this weekend. Especially Tänak, mind you mechanical issues are out of his control. It’s just been a lacklustre season for the British team. The Puma hasn’t been reliable, and having a two-car team hasn’t worked in their favour. Tänak comes into Rally Chile BioBio as the defending winner. Winning the event back in 2019 with Toyota. Can Tänak bounce back in Chile? That’ll be found out this weekend, but it’ll depend on a lot more than just his driving. Tänak and Loubet will both drive for the team this weekend. They will be joined by two new Rally1 drivers in Grégoire Munster and Alberto Heller joining the team for the weekend.

Two Rally1 Debuts At Rally Chile BioBio

WRC2 driver Grégoire Munster will make his Rally1 debut this weekend. Munster will become the first driver in WRC history to drive a Rally3, Rally2 and Rally1 car in the same season. As Munster drove a Rally3 car in Estonia, a rally2 car at select events for the WRC2 championship and now a Rally1 car. Munster will pilot Jourdan Serderidis’s Puma Rally1. Alberto Heller will also be making his Rally1 debut this weekend. The Chilean driver will pilot a Puma Rally1 provided by M-Sport.