Ott Tänak won this weekend's WRC Rally Chile for M-Sport Ford, his second victory of the 2023 season. Tänak won the inaugural Rally Chile in 2019, while this year's race was the first to have been held since then.
Belgian Thierry Neuville finished second for Hyudai, while Elfyn Evans (Wales) was third for Toyota.
Tänak said after the race that: "It's great to finally get to a positive result. Thanks to the mechanics and all the backup team in the pits, who came here," he went on.
"We are a small team of people, but we did a great job. Chile is a great place with a lot of support and there were even a few Estonians here, which was surprising," Tänak went on.
WINNERS! @MSportLtd pairing @OttTanak and Martin Järveoja have won #RallyChile, putting them back in the winner's circle for the first time since @RallySweden #WRC | #MSporters | #WRCLive pic.twitter.com/D6EpGsrRgp— World Rally Championship (@OfficialWRC) October 1, 2023
Tänak and his Estonian co-driver Martin Järveoja came to the gravel roads in the Biobío Region of Central Chile, as noted with one win in an often-frustrating 2023 season, which had seen the preceding six races draw a blank.
The one victory going into last weekend had come in Sweden way back in February, while his home race in July ended in a disappointing eighth.
Rally Chile has only been on the calendar since 2019 – which Tänak and Järveoja won for Toyota, in their world championship-winning season.
Thanks to both political unrest in the country and the Covid pandemic the race was off the calendar in any case 2020-2022 inclusive, making Tänak and Järveoja its sole victor at top WRC level, so far.
The race is also the last gravel-based event of the season, with Finn Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota) in with a mathematical chance of bagging his second consecutive world title over Evans, 33 points behind.
Ahead of the weekend, Tänak said: "The last time we were here, we had a great rally."
The roads were good, a bit like in Wales. This is a very good stage, we've been here once and won once, I'm already looking forward to it."
WINNERS OF RALLY CHILE 2023 pic.twitter.com/STUiTkCEbs— Ott Tänak (@OttTanak) October 1, 2023
"Most of this course seems to be new, and the weather can also play a big role. But the stages themselves should generally be similar to those in New Zealand, or in Wales," he added.
Tänak took the lead after Friday, stage six (Evans had won the opening shakedown stage on Thursday), having wont three of those six despite reporting some technical issues with shock absorbers, he essentially had overall victory in the bag from Saturday morning, winning two more stages, and then a further two later in the day.
His lead was such that even though he won none of the final four stages on the Sunday (three went to Neuville, while Rovanperä won the last stage), he and Järveoja still took victory with an overall time of 3:06.38.1
Neuville was 42.1 seconds behind the winners, Evans 1.06.9 and Rovanperä 2.11.0 later.
Tänak remains in fourth place on 146 points after the weekend's result, with two rounds still to go, and just nine points behind Thierry Neuville.
Rovanperä remains in front on 217 points, but did not clinch the 2023 title this weekend; Elfyn Evans, looking for his maiden title, remains a challenger on 186 points.
The next race is at the end of the month, the Central European Rally, based in Germany and with stages in neighboring Austria and the Czech Republic.
Editor: Andrew Whyte