The hardness of Norte Chico’s (Regions of Coquimbo and Atacama) roads was felt this Saturday at the Vicuña trophy, which featured six special stages and a total of 92.04 timed kilometers.
The great winner of the day was Pedro Heller (Ford Fiesta), at R5, closely trailed by Argentinian Alejandro Cancio (Skoda Fabia), and his brother Pedro (Ford Fiesta). They all knew how to get the most out of their gathered experience in the turbo all-wheel drive cars, and so took the top three spots at what has been one of the toughest rounds of the 2018 season up to now, at the most important category in national motorsport. Twelve retirements were registered, yet several restarts were expected at the end of the day for Sunday.
Multi Champion Jorge Martínez (Peugeot 208 R5) had a bad day and was relegated to fifth position within preliminary results. Copec driver Francisco “Chaleco” López bore electrical problems in his Peugeot 208 R5, which stopped him from finishing on Saturday. But his team was positive about going back on Sunday, so as not to put too many points aside at the fight for the championship.
One of the most important incidents of hectic Saturday was Alberto “Beto” Heller’s performance, who demonstrated his maturity as a driver by winning over the day and surpassing his brother Pedro, who shaped up as the man to overtake amongst those in Joker Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5. Things don’t look easy for the Hellers as Argentinian Alejandro Cancio gets more confident on each round in Chilean territory and finished second, only 7 tenths after “Beto”.
“It’s a pleasure for me to compete against drivers who are at the level of Alejandro Cancio, of my own brother, it means we are on the right track. Today’s key was to keep the most calm, to strike when we could. In fact, I was very careful in the afternoon, so as not to slash a tire. I went from being at the top for 11 points to be third. Then we were able to get back in, so I think being cool headed was key to finish first this Saturday,” Alberto Heller said.
“We bounced back because I’m more comfortable with the floor, the southern roads are much complicated, the guys know them well and are fierce drivers. It’s not just a matter of coming here to win over drivers who are very good and know the roads very well, it wasn’t going to be easy and I was aware of this. I felt a little more comfortable at this trophy and that allowed me to go a little further and also I was lucky,” the trans-Andean Cancio mentioned at the Service Park.
At R3 there’s a lot of excitement going on, the Citroën squad of Samuel and Vicente Israel took the first and second place for the team, while troubled Ramón Ibarra (Renault Clio) managed to reach third place under a three minutes sports penalty. The northern roads’ hardness favored the Renault driver, at a category that went through several setbacks: only six of its crews managed to finish at an unrelenting Saturday. Meanwhile, the R2 duo of Martín Scuncio and Javiera Román did not give its trailers a rest, leading on Saturday with a difference of 1 minute, 36 seconds and 4 tenths over the runner up spot, Eduardo Kovacs (Opel Adam).