England’s Gus Greensmith will be bidding to overturn a four-point deficit when he leads his rivals into battle for WRC 2 Pro honours in this weekend’s Copec Rally Chile, round six of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship.
The M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5 driver trails the absent Lukasz Pieniazek (winner in Mexico and Corsica) in the title race, but the Monte Carlo category winner will be keeping one eye firmly on the performance of Norwegian rival Mads Østberg.
Before taking part in a shakedown test on Monday and starting two days of reconnaissance, Greensmith said: “I’ve heard a lot of different things about this new rally and only the Heller brothers have been able to give me a clear insight into what to expect. It is a huge unknown for everyone. I have spent a lot of time studying some on-board videos that we were given by the organisers, but it’s hard to get an exact feel of the stages.”
Mads is now tackling select rounds of the series with a factory-run Citroen C3 R5 and leapt into title contention with victory in Argentina recently to add to his Swedish success back in February. Finland’s Kalle Rovanperä is the only other realistic title challenger and holds fourth in the rankings with his Škoda Fabia R5, with which he earned a pair of second places in Monte Carlo and Sweden.
Marco Bulacia has entered Copec Rally Chile in WRC 2 Pro with Škoda Motorsport, but the young Bolivian has also featured in WRC 2 this season and is equal 11th in the standings with 18 points earned from a second place behind series leader Benito Guerra in Mexico.
Guerra also earned points for second place in Argentina, despite a first day roll and gearbox issues, and heads into the Chile showdown determined to defend a series lead over a formidable field. Ole Christian Veiby and Nikolay Gryazin are his closest rivals after five rallies, but their absence from the starting line-up in Concepción has opened the door for the Chilean brothers, Alberto and Pedro Heller, to close the gap at the top and move up from fourth and equal fifth in the points’ standings.
Alberto finished third in WRC 2 in Mexico and fourth in Argentina, while brother Pedro claimed an impressive win in Argentina at the end of April, the Chilean R5 national champion overcoming a late scare on the final kilometre of the last El Condor stage to claim the win. The Heller brothers’ cousin Felipe Rossi also appears on the entry list in a Ford Fiesta R5 that he damaged in testing on Monday.
Poland’s Kajetan Kajetanowicz withdrew his Chilean entry after retiring from the recent Rally of Argentina. He had amassed 15 points for finishing third in Corsica. Chilean driver Emilio Fernández will also be hoping for a podium finish after gaining some WRC experience in the Junior category in 2018.
Chilean families dominate the lower reaches of the entry list. The Israel family is a keen supporter of rallying in Chile and brothers Benjamin and Vicente are taking part in the WRC 2 category in a pair of Citroën C3 R5s with cousin Samuel Israel also entered in a privately run C3. The fourth Israel, Fernanda, was entered in a Peugeot 208 at the rear of the field in the R2 class but is not taking part on this occasion.
Benjamin and Vicente are members of the Monster Procircuit Rally Team and have campaigned the R5s in national rallies, finishing in first and second places in their category at the Rally of the Biobío on Benjamin’s debut in an R5. Samuel tackled the R3 championship in Chile last season and also ventured to Spain with his relatives to attend a rally school.
Fernanda, meanwhile, is the daughter of Francisca Cortez – a driver in Formula 3 and 4 – and former rally driver Claudio Israel and the sister of Benjamin and Vicente. She attended a rally school in Spain run by former WRC star Xavier Pons. Accompanied by Spanish co-driver Marta Anglada, they became the first female pairing ever to tackle a round of the Chilean Mobil Rally series recently.
The Rosselot family is also active in Copec Rally Chile. Luis Ignacio Rosselot will drive a Mitsubishi Mirage in the National category. He tested the machine in Talca recently with Swedish engineer Tomas Weng on hand after an engine setback on the Rally of Los Angeles in April.
Brothers Emilio and Tadeo Rosselot will drive a pair of Citroën DS3 R3Ts alongside their respective co-drivers Tomás Cañete and Eugenio Carvallo. Team Rosselot is also running a C3 R5 in WRC 2 for the Peruvian driver Eduardo Castro. Older brother Gerardo will drive a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution as the event’s course security car.
The Pérez Racing family also has three cars on the entry list. Osorno-based Diego and Pablo Pérez will tackle the event with the ex-Francesco Lopez Peugeot 208 in the R2 class, Diego’s father Marcelo wheels out his R2 208 entry and there is a third Fabia R2 for his namesake Marcelo.
Cristóbel and Ramón Ibarra are another pair of Chilean rallying brothers who appear on the entry list in a Citroën DS3 R3T and Renault Clio R3, respectively.
Tomorrow, drivers complete their second day of stage reconnaissance between 08.00hrs and 17.00hrs, while factory World Rally Cars are taken for scrutineering checks at the Service Park in Talcahuano and other crews carry out scrutineering at the nearby Inacap facility.
Drivers will then attend a pre-event safety briefing at the Teatre Casino Marina del Sol on Wednesday evening.