The first Rally Chile to count towards the FIA World Rally Championship has been described as a blend of Australia, Finland and Wales by the players who were in South America for the landmark event. The country’s first WRC qualifier featured a broad spread of humidity levels and temperatures which had a big influence on car set-ups and, of course, tyre strategies.
The stages – the majority of which were located near the Pacific coast – threw up a wide variety of surface types, ranging from those with a sandy top-coating reminiscent of Rally Finland, to harder, stone- or gravel-littered roads. There was also a certain amount of mud due to the week’s showery weather. The morning starts tended to be chilly and the thermometer failed to climb much higher than 20°C during the afternoons. Fog was an issue at times, too.
To cover this assortment of conditions, Michelin provided its WRC partners with a choice between the medium-compound MICHELIN LTX Force M6 and the harder MICHELIN LTX Force H4, while those WRC2 runners competing on the French firm’s products could choose between the soft-compound MICHELIN Latitude Cross S80 and the hard MICHELIN Latitude Cross H90. Given the chilly weather and the variety of stage surfaces, the softer of the two options turned out to be the predominant fitment, although some drivers attempted different strategies at times, including Sébastien Ogier (Citroën C3 WRC) who left service for Saturday afternoon’s loop of three tests carrying three MICHELIN LTX Force H4s and two LTX Force M6s, while his rivals all opted for five LTX Force H4s.