2018 RallyMobil Championship got to its fifth round, Curicó trophy, with a tight competition within the main category, R5 . But the Maule roads held surprises in store for the championship leaders. Hard roads, slashed tires and changes in the positions marked the day this Saturday at Curicó. Argentinian Alejandro Cancio (Skoda Fabia) became the winner, while Jorge Martínez (Peugeot 208) added up 5 precious points, which made him the R5 leader. On second place came local Francisco “Chaleco” López (Peugeot 208), Copec/Peugeot Team/Red Bull official driver, who did his best performance of what’s been this year so far, and ever, since he’s been behind an R5 wheel. Luis Ignacio Rosselot (Mistsubishi Mirage) finished third.

During the morning, the competition was intense among R5 leaders. Pedro Heller (Ford Fiesta) and Jorge Martínez fought on every special stage with only tenths of a second differences, but, in the afternoon, things changed. First came “Drope” Heller’s slashed tire, which delayed him on the fifth special stage. At the following one, tough luck stroke Martínez, the multi champion had clutch problems and ended up within last positions. Then, the eldest Heller kept on facing trouble. As he gave it everything he had, so as to diminish the differences, his R5 hit a pole and the radiator got damaged, so his restart on Sunday became compromised. This outcome allowed Jorge Martínez (Peugeot 208) to stand as the new R5 leader, 2 points away from Pedro Heller.

Argentinian Alejandro Cancio, of the CB Tech Rally by Skoda, said: “I’m very happy about winning the first day, a very hard race, we changed the car’s set-up during the second part and it worked well, plus, my rivals had several mishaps and made me finish first, not without going through complicated situations, I went off and couldn’t draw my car from a ditch, but I managed to come out. Anyways, we finished first, so I’m very happy. The floor allows very little grip, it changes a lot and, above all, the car has no grip when you’re going downwards, so it begins to “float” and it gets really hard to keep it within the road. We have a good difference with Chaleco, whom I congratulate, and we must try to maintain such difference time.”

Local Francisco “Chaleco” López used his nativeness and the support the audience gave him, showing their favouritism towards him on Friday at the Opening Ceremony, where they sang the Dakar driver’s name for along while, a symbol of the close relationship RallyMobil has with the city of Curicó.

“It was quite a complex day, since we didn’t know the stages, very technical. The sun dried up the floor in the afternoon and things came out very well, actually, we won the last stage. It’s the first one we’ve ever won at R5, we had never been within times before, we did an excellent competition, very focused and happy with the people’s affection. We hope we go down the same path tomorrow to get off with the same strategy -Condell Hill is pretty complicated, it’s narrow and on asphalt- but enjoying what we find. The message is for people to get settled at the safety spots so that we don’t have any accidents, specially with these really fast cars,” Chaleco López said at his arrival in the Service Park.

Meanwhile, at R3, all sorts of things occurred too. In the morning, leader Samuel Israel (Citröen DS3) rolled over and lost many valuable points. One who took advantage of this incident was Emilio Rosselot, who kept close the whole time and managed to win over, not just the day, but chances of becoming the only leader of R3 as well. He was trailed by the Renault Clio duo; Cristóbal Ibarra finished second while his brother Ramón joined him on the Saturday podium at the third standing.

At R2, Emilio Fernández (Ford Fiesta) reached first place, while championship leader, Martín Scuncio (Peugeot 208) strived to go faster but finally attained second place. Eduardo Kovacs (Opel Adam) stood third.

Check Curicó Day 1 results.