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TOYOTA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM

PIAA is an official Partner of the TOYOTA Gazzo Rally Championship Team


2017 WRC Calendar - See www.wrc.com
1 Rallye Monte-Carlo 19 - 22 Jan 17
2 Rally Sweden 09 - 12 Feb 17
3 Rally Mexico 09 - 12 Mar 17
4 Tour de Corse 06 - 09 Apr 17
5 Rally Argentina 27 - 30 Apr 17
5. Rally Portugal 18 - 21 May 17
6. Rally Italia Sardinia 08 - 11 Jun 17
7 Rally Poland 29 Jun -- 02 Jul 17
8 Rally Finland 27 - 30 Jul 17
9 Rally Deutschland 17 - 20 Aug 17
10 Rally de España - Catalunya 05 - 08 Oct 17
11 Wales Rally GB 26 - 29 Oct 17
12 Rally Australia 16 - 19 Nov 17

 

PRESS RELEASE : 22 May 2017

ALL THREE YARIS WRCS IN TOP 10: POWER STAGE POINTS FOR LAPPI ON DEBUT

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has finished one of the most demanding rallies of the year with all three cars in the top 10, after entering a trio of drivers for the first time. Making his debut was Esapekka Lappi, who claimed two points by setting fourth-fastest time on the Power Stage. Juho Hänninen was seventh, Jari-Matti Latvala was ninth despite not feeling well, and Lappi was 10th.

Car 12(Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm)
The final day of Rally Portugal consisted of four stages run consecutively without service, including two passes on the famous Fafe stage. After encountering varied issues over the previous two days, the Toyota drivers concentrated on bringing all three cars safely home to consolidate the team’s third spot in the manufacturers’ standings. An unexpected bonus was Lappi’s driver points on the Power Stage.

Quotes:
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“This was another very difficult rally from which we will learn a lot from the future. I’m particularly happy about the way it finished, with Esapekka doing a fantastic job to score three driver points on his debut. The way that he quickly came up to speed was very impressive and I am sure he has a strong future. But I would like to thank all of our drivers, co-drivers and team. Juho did a very solid job to score more driver points and without a couple of small issues he could have been even higher. He proved again how important he is to our programme. We were actually very worried about Jari-Matti’s physical condition yesterday, but he overcame that to finish the rally strongly. The team has put into place everything we have learned so far very effectively. Now we will continue working in this way.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“Physically, this is the hardest rally I have ever done in my career. I was feeling terrible yesterday, but I spent the night in hospital to rehydrate and as a result I felt a lot better today and we were able to finish in the points, which I am very happy about. There’s no test before Sardinia, so I have a chance to rest properly – I think I could sleep now for the next two days! – and come back even stronger for the next rally.”

Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“I’m happy to end another rally in a points-scoring place, especially because we didn’t have much experience here and conditions were quite tricky, although not quite as bad as Argentina. The most important thing is that we learned a lot and generally had a clean run: this helps the confidence. Today we were trying a couple of different things for the future, and I had a lot of fun on the Fafe stage: the crowds were amazing and it was a fantastic experience, so thank you to them as well.”

Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 12)
“To be honest, before the rally I was hoping that we could score points in the overall classification, but I would never have dreamed of it happening on the Power Stage. So in many ways, this rally didn’t exactly go as I expected, but I’m happy: I think we found the right speed, which is very important. On the first two stages today I tried to save the tyres, then on the two final ones I could push harder. My landing after the jump on the Fafe Power Stage was interesting – but at least I could demonstrate how tough the suspension on the Yaris WRC is!”

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: 30th April 2017

DOUBLE POINTS FINISH FOR TOYOTA ON A MASSIVELY TOUGH RALLY ARGENTINA

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team finished with both crews inside the top 10 for the second time this year, on what was widely acknowledged as the toughest event of the season so far: Rally Argentina. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila finished fifth, with Juho Hänninen and Kaj Lindström were two places behind them in seventh, after four challenging days of action.

Both crews encountered their fair share of issues on the event, but these were valuable opportunities for the team to learn in order to improve the Yaris WRC further for the future. The final day of the rally contained three stages, including the legendary El Condor and Giulio Cesare tests, characterised by lunar landscapes and high altitudes. Both drivers got through the stages with no problems, as a result of which TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT retains third in the manufacturers’ championship, while Latvala is still second in the drivers’ standings.

Quotes:
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Rally Argentina has provided some hard lessons for us in some extremely challenging conditions, but we were able to learn a lot from them, so we welcome the challenges like the ones we have seen over the last few days. Both the drivers have done a fantastic job, even though they have been a bit unlucky with some of the problems they faced. Without those, they could have been even higher up the classification. However, in the end we have to be happy with the result that we take away from here, and we are also happy with the information and knowledge that we have gained about our car in these unique soft gravel and rough conditions. We know that the Yaris WRC is basically very strong!”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“The final day of the rally was consistent. I tried not to be a superhero and just finish the rally safely! Our car is very tough, we can say that for sure, and we certainly improved the performance compared to the last gravel round in Mexico. We got one point for the Power Stage and took fifth overall, but the most important thing was that we kept our consistent run of points that we had from Monte-Carlo, and so the championship stays open. It’s incredible, but in all of my career I don’t think I’ve ever been this close to the front after just five rallies. Now I’m looking forward to the next test and the next rally, so that we can keep on making the car better.”

Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“Our last day went without a problem and that was good because I needed to finish. We drove quite carefully as there was some big gaps in front and behind us, so no point in taking any risks. El Condor was actually much rougher than I expected, so my goal was just to bring the car back in one piece. In general this has been an extremely tough and demanding rally, with some especially rough roads, but now we have got to the end of it, scored some points, and learned a lot, so I am happy.”

PROVISIONAL FINAL RESULT, RALLY ARGENTINA:

1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 3h38m10.6s
2 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0.7s
3 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +29.9s
4 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:24.7s
5 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m48.1s
6 Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +7m42.7s
7 Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC), +11:16.9s
8 Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +14:44.1s
9 Mads Ostberg/Ola Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +15m11.3s
10 Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +17m32.1s

2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR DRIVERS AFTER ROUND FIVE:

1 Sebastien Ogier 102
2 Jari-Matti Latvala 86
3 Thierry Neuville 84
4 Ott Tanak 66
5 Dani Sordo 51
6 Elfyn Evans 42
7 Craig Breen 33
8 Hayden Paddon 33
9 Kris Meeke 27
10 Juho Hänninen 15

2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR MANUFACTURERS AFTER ROUND FIVE:

1 M-Sport World Rally Team 162
2 Hyundai Motorsport 140
3 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT 99
4 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 71

What’s next?
The next round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is Rally Portugal from May 18-21. This is one of the most emblematic events on the WRC, run in the north of the country over some very famous stages. As it is another gravel rally, the team will be able to put the lessons learned in Argentina immediately into practice, and the development process will be accelerated further by the first addition of a test car on the event for Esapekka Lapp

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: 9th April 2017

LATVALA FINISHES JUST OFF PODIUM AND MAINTAINS SECOND IN CHAMPIONSHIP

An unbelievably close finish on the Tour de Corse meant that Jari-Matti Latvala won the Power Stage and secured fourth place on the rally – by the incredible margin of 0.1 seconds, after 316.80 competitive kilometres! The Finn slipped to fifth after the first stage of the day, which was the longest of the rally, but then fought back in style.

Latvala ended the event on a high, claiming his first stage win and consolidating his second place in the championship thanks also to the five points that he earned by winning the 10.42-kilometre Power Stage. Despite setting stage times in the top two, Juho Hänninen was unlucky this morning, sliding off the road on the first stage. Nonetheless, he can be proud of his rapid performance, in which the team as a whole underlined the speed and reliability of the Yaris WRC.

Quotes:

Akio Toyoda (Team Chairman)
“I finally got to watch our team in action personally, after 17 years not competing in the World Rally Championship, fighting at the front. But one of the things that struck me most was the midday service on Saturday, when our mechanics made a number of important changes and completed the work just within the time limit, following the feedback from the drivers in the morning. Thank you to Tommi for assembling such a dedicated and professional team. The result was an improved car, and that perfectly reflects our philosophy of making ever-better cars. In Japanese we describe this as ‘kaizen’, which means continuous improvement. By carrying on in this way for the rest of the season, I am sure that we can continue to grow stronger. The other thing that struck me was the quantity of passionate fans, telling us ‘allez Toyota!’ in French – or ‘come on, Toyota!’ in English. As we love cars, all of us appreciate this support from the fans so much, and their enthusiasm is also an important ingredient in the recipe for making an ever-better Yaris WRC.”

Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Both the drivers said that the car felt much better after some changes we made on Saturday, although it was already promising on the first day. So this result is really a team effort, with the car being improved over the three days thanks to everyone’s hard work and collaboration. Finishing this close to the podium on our first asphalt event is a fantastic achievement and actually something I never managed myself as a driver: my best result in Corsica was sixth! Another great job by Jari-Matti, who drove brilliantly on the Power Stage in particular, and also from Juho, who was able to match Jari-Matti’s pace despite having nothing like the same level of experience. He can also feel proud at the end of this rally.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“The power stage was completely maximum attack: I was totally focussed on my driving. I knew that if I wanted to have fourth place I needed to have a perfect run and I nearly achieved that: there were a couple of places where we arrived too fast and had some understeer, and also one jump where we arrived completely sideways. I could see people running away, so I’m sorry if I gave them a fright, but in any case it was all under control, even though it looked spectacular! We’ve taken 17 points with fourth place and the Power Stage win, so this is a really fantastic result for our first rally on asphalt.”

Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“About five kilometres from the end of the first stage this morning I just missed a right-hand corner. I think it was maybe a problem with my pace notes, which perhaps were not clear, but in any case I went straight off the road and there was no chance to come back, so my rally finished there. It’s disappointing because we showed plenty of speed on this rally and came so close to the finish, but of course I am happy for the team as Jari-Matti achieved a very good result here.”

2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR DRIVERS AFTER ROUND FOUR:

1 Sebastien Ogier 88
2 Jari-Matti Latvala 75
3 Thierry Neuville 54
4 Ott Tanak 48
5 Dani Sordo 47
6 Craig Breen 33
7 Kris Meeke 27
8 Hayden Paddon 25
9 Elfyn Evans 20
10 Andreas Mikkelsen 12
12 Juho Hänninen 9

 

PRESS RELEASE: 12th March 2017

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT CREWS OVERCOME THE CHALLENGE OF MEXICO FOR A DOUBLE HAUL OF POINTS

After four days of the toughest action it has faced this year, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT has secured a points finish with both crews in the top 10 for the first time, who headed into the final day separated by just 0.3 seconds. Mexico combined the challenge of both heat and altitude, meaning that the team had to overcome the same overheating problems that affected most of the field on Friday. Each driver faced their own additional difficulties: Jari-Matti Latvala ran first on the road to sweep it clean for everyone else during the first day of proper stages, while Juho Hänninen was unwell throughout the event. At the end of the rally, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is still runner-up in the manufacturers’ championship, while Latvala is second in the drivers’ standings and Hänninen is 11th.

Car 10(Jari-Matti Latvala,Miikka Anttila)
The final day contained just two stages and 54.9 kilometres, but they were crucial ones as the final stage was also the Power Stage, with additional driver points on offer. Jari-Matti and Juho were both targeting results on this final stage, with Jari-Matti scoring two points thanks to a fourth-fastest time.

Quotes:
Tommi Mäkinen (Team principal)
“After the amazing moments we had in Monte-Carlo and Sweden, this rally was much more the type of situation we were expecting from this year, but it still gave us a lot of satisfaction as we scored driver points with both drivers for the first time and also had to overcome a lot of difficulties to achieve that. So we are happy with the result and also with the information we obtained on what was only our first-ever gravel rally. Well done to all our drivers, co-drivers, engineers and mechanics for getting us to the finish with both cars under very tricky circumstances. What we have learned will be very useful for the future.”

Koei Saga (Team Vice-Principal)
“Despite the great result obtained in Sweden, we always expected Mexico to be more challenging due to the high temperature and altitude. After our testing, where we simulated as much as we could, we believed we were well-prepared. But the challenges we faced were even tougher than expected. We experienced a problem with overheating on Friday, then thanks to the work of our engineers and mechanics, we were able to solve it by the next morning and bring both Yaris WRC crews to the finish on Sunday, having confirmed over the rest of the rally that the solutions we found were working. These experiences and lessons made both ourselves and the car grow. In that sense, this rally was really meaningful. I feel reassured that we can be stronger when we push our limits through the toughest competitions on the roads that our customers use. And this leads to ever-better cars. Thanks again to the wonderful fans from all over the world, who I was proud to meet for myself on Rally Mexico. Your support means so much to us.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
”I set myself a target of the top five, so I just missed out on that. On the other hand, I don’t think that anyone could have predicted the difficulties that we all faced, so to finish sixth and score some Power Stage points as well is a real achievement, which still keeps us well-placed in both championships. The last day was actually the best day for me: we had a really good feeling with the car until we got caught out by a slippery section on the first stage, so we had a spin and lost 10 seconds. Without that, I think it could have been a really good time. All the signs of progress are there, which is the main thing. We’re here to learn, and we have done a lot of that over the past four days.”

Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
”We can take away many positive things from this rally although for me it was not as enjoyable as it could have been because I was not feeling well from start to finish. Still, I am very happy to get to the end and score my first driver points this year. It was fun to be so close with Jari-Matti heading into the final day: we started it separated by just 0.3 seconds but he was faster than me today. We will take on board many things for the future from this and move forwards as a team, which is the most important thing. On this rally I managed to avoid all the trees as well, so it’s good to see that even at my age I can still learn some new things! Although I did notice that a left-hand mirror was broken, so maybe I didn’t get away with it completely…”

2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR DRIVERS AFTER ROUND THREE:

1 Sebastien Ogier 66
2 Jari-Matti Latvala 58
3 Ott Tanak 48
4 Dani Sordo 30
5 Thierry Neuville 28
6 Kris Meeke 27
7 Craig Breen 20
8 Elfyn Evans 20
9 Hayden Paddon 17
10 Stephane Lefebvre 10
11 Juho Hänninen 9
2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR MANUFACTURERS AFTER ROUND THREE:

1 M-Sport World Rally Team 103
2 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT 67
3 Hyundai Motorsport 65
4 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 55

 

PRESS RELEASE: 12th February 2017

LATVALA WINS RALLY SWEDEN AND LEADS CHAMPIONSHIP

For the first time since Rally China in 1999, Toyota has won a round of the FIA World Rally Championship: on only the second event for the all-new Yaris WRC. Jari-Matti Latvala inherited the lead after yesterday’s super special stage, when the former leader broke his steering. Latvala then won all three stages today to extend his advantage and claim the first rally win for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team. Juho Hänninen had a trouble-free day and scored more manufacturer points, meaning that TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is now second in the manufacturers’ championship, while Latvala heads the drivers’ standings, having sealed his 17th career win, his fourth in Sweden, and his first since Mexico 2016. In total, Jari-Matti won six stages: SS1, SS4, SS13, SS16, SS17 and SS18.

(Left) Miikka Anttila (Right) Jari-Matti Latvala on the podium
Latvala started the day with just a 3.8-second advantage over the second-placed man but won all three stages (including the power stage) to seal an emotional victory, having experienced no problems at all. Hänninen finished just outside the top 20, continuing to test settings for future rallies.

Quotes:
Akio Toyoda (Team chairman)
“It’s a great feeling to win a round of the World Rally Championship after a break of 17 years. I have always been looking forward to this moment, but I never imagined that it would come so soon. A special thanks not just to each and every member of the team, but also to all the fans who have been waiting for our return and shared the joy with us. So I’d like to share with everyone a discussion I had with Tommi and Jari-Matti before the start of Rally Sweden about communication with cars. Jari-Matti said he tries to communicate with them with love, and drive them with care. Tommi said he can have a good understanding of how to drive them faster because he loves cars. Their words, full of love for cars, touched me because I feel the same. So my wish is for us all to keep on enjoying this feeling and facing the challenges together to make the Yaris an ever-better car.”

Tommi Makinen (Team principal)
“It’s very hard to find the words to describe what I am feeling right now: what we are all feeling. Monte-Carlo was an unexpected result, but this is beyond unexpected. Of course we were lucky to have this win, but it’s also a huge tribute to the talent of Jari-Matti and the united team work that has taken place in Finland, Germany and Japan. It's an incredible feeling and I just want to thank everybody who has made it possible: especially our chairman Mr Toyoda for his faith in us, Jari-Matti, Miika, Juho, and Kaj. This is a special day that we are all going to remember for a very long time, but at the same time we will keep our feet on the ground now and continue to work as hard as always.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
”I am so, so happy. For a new team and new car to win its second rally: I really have no words. I think I drove my best power stage ever today. Huge thanks to all the team. Now we are super-motivated to continue like this: I just can’t wait to get to Mexico. It’s fantastic to win but I also feel very sorry for Thierry Neuville, who lost the lead yesterday at the super special stage. I have been in a similar situation myself in the past, so I completely understand how he must be feeling now. We know we were lucky, so we need to carry on improving and working for our goal.”

Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
”I am so proud to be part of this team of dedicated and hard-working people and so happy. This is an amazing result for all of us. From our point of view we spent the rally recovering from our mistake on Friday, but we completed plenty of useful testing and I increased my time and confidence in the car.”

PROVISIONAL FINAL RESULT, RALLY SWEDEN:

1 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miika Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2h36m03.6s
2 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +29.2s
3 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +59.5s
4 Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2m11.5s
5 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +2m51.2s
6 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5m26.6s
7 Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +5m31.2s
8 Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau (Citroen DS3 WRC) +7m14.7s
9 Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +9m11.1s
10 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta R5) +10m02.9s
23 Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +23m05.6s


2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR DRIVERS AFTER ROUND TWO:

1 Jari-Matti Latvala 48
2 Sebastien Ogier 44
3 Ott Tanak 33
4 Dani Sordo 25
5 Craig Breen 20
6 Elfyn Evans 18
7 Stephane Lefebvre 10
8 Thierry Neuville 8
9 Hayden Paddon 7
10 Andreas Mikkelsen 6
12 Juho Hänninen 3


2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR MANUFACTURERS AFTER ROUND TWO:

1 M-Sport World Rally Team 73
2 Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 53
3 Hyundai Motorsport 40
4 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 26
(Results as of 16:00 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)


What’s next?
The next stop on the World Rally Championship, round three, is Rally Mexico from March 9-12. This will be the first gravel round of the year and the first run in high temperatures, with the stages at high altitude as well, which deprives the engine of oxygen. As a result it represents another brand new challenge for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing.

 

PRESS RELEASE: 3rd February 2017

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’S WINTER WARRIORS SET FOR SNOW AND ICE ACTION IN SWEDEN

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team and its drivers, Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hänninen, are set to take on the high-speed snowy and icy stages of Rally Sweden from February 9 to 12. The team now aims to consolidate its 2017 learning programme and build on its return to FIA World Rally Championship action on Rallye Monte-Carlo last month, where Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Anttilla guided their Toyota Yaris WRC to an unexpected second place. With Toyota’s commitment to the WRC for the long term, car development and team progression remain the priority this season as opposed to rapid stage performances.

Rally Sweden has been a winter event since it became a founding round of the world championship in 1973. And snow and ice are key to creating the spectacle. Metal studs inserted into the tyres punch through the ice to find grip, while drivers use the snow banks to stay on the road by ‘leaning’ through the corners: provided there is enough snow to do it.

In keeping with Rally Sweden tradition, a super special stage in Karlstad opens the action on the Thursday evening (February 9). The bulk of Friday’s competition is based across the border in Norway with the Röjden stage actually running between both countries. Crews will demonstrate their jumping prowess on Saturday when they attempt the famous Colin’s Crest on the Vargåsen stage as the rally returns to Sweden for the final two days. The event concludes with the Torsby Power Stage from 12:18 CET on Sunday ahead of the ceremonial finish at the town’s airport, which doubles as the service park for the event. Almost 60 per cent of the competitive route is new for this year with 331.74 stage kilometres.

Tommi Mäkinen and Latvala are triple winners of the rally, while Toyota also has three Rally Sweden victories to its name from the past. Latvala and Hänninen prepared for Rally Sweden with total of 5 days of testing in Central Finland.

Tommi Mäkinen, Team Principal
“We’ve had a very busy time since Monte Carlo, with snow testing and also travelling to Japan for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing press conference. Sweden has fewer questions for us as we have some idea where we are now in terms of performance, but maybe the expectation is more given Jari-Matti’s second place. We have done a lot of testing on snow and also on gravel: this is really useful as well because the set-up for gravel is not so different than for snow. Of course, this is a very fast rally: actually even faster than Finland in many places. But we have found some high-speed roads for testing so we hope that we are quite well prepared. We have to work on reliability as we had some small problems in Monte that were troubling Jari-Matti a little bit, but in general I am quite happy with this side of things as well. We know we still have a lot to learn and the target in Sweden, which should suit our drivers well, is to make more progress.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver Car 10)
“I have some very nice memories of Sweden as this was my first rally win, back in 2008, but the circumstances are very different now! I did some snow testing before Christmas with the Yaris WRC and last week as well: even in that short time there have been some big improvements in the car and the whole team, which is the main aim as our target more than anything else this year is just to keep getting better. The result in Monte was a very nice surprise but I don’t think it’s realistic to expect the same in Sweden: we need to remember that this is still a completely new team and brand new project. So far the temperature in Sweden seems to be quite warm, so we could find conditions similar to previous years, which are never easy. I hope we get some nice minus degrees soon, as that will provide the best show for everyone.”

Juho Hänninen (Driver Car 11)
“I have done three days of testing on snow, with the aim of finding a good set-up. In Monte, I had a really good set-up before the start of the rally, which actually I did not change much: this was a key to finding good confidence with the car. I learned a lot from Monte, but as Sweden is so different, it’s really like starting over again. Of course it will depend a lot on the conditions: during the test we also tried to find roads that were a bit damaged so we could simulate what we might find on the rally and see how the car moves when the studs come out of the tyres. I’m looking forward to the weekend, as Sweden is one of the rallies I have done most and of course the tyre choice is a lot simpler than it is on Monte. But we will still approach it in the same way, step by step, as our preparation time has not been big.”

 

PRESS RELEASE 25rd January 2017

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SECURES A PODIUM FINISH ON ITS RETURN TO THE FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP (WRC)

For Toyota, returning to the WRC after a 17-year absence, the Rallye Monte-Carlo was not just the first race of the series. Boasting the longest history of the WRC events, it is the rally that every driver wants to compete in at least once; drivers dream of standing on the top of the podium here. However, it is no easy task to win in Monte-Carlo. Many World Champions have retired without having realized their ambition of victory at Monte-Carlo.

Between 1999 and 2002, Tommi Mäkinen, Team Principal of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT, won four consecutive races at Monte Carlo. “No other rally is as difficult to predict as Monte -Carlo. The course invites mistakes, the weather and road conditions are constantly changing, and that also makes tire choice difficult. It truly is a challenging and unique rally.”

Mäkinen, who knows Monte-Carlo inside out, had from a while back decided on a cautious approach to Monte-Carlo, which was to be TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT’s first race back at the WRC. Thanks to the efforts of engineers, drivers and the whole team, the Yaris WRC was in a position to compete in the rally despite an extremely short development period. However, since it had been developed from scratch, there was no way of knowing what its performance would be in the actual rally. There was also a distinct possibility that the vehicle would be struck by unexpected issues. In addition, since the majority of time during the development testing was spent on gravel, it was a fact that the Yaris WRC would start the rally in a setup that wasn’t optimized for Monte-Carlo’s tarmac.

Yet, from the start of the rally, the Yaris WRC demonstrated sufficient speed to compete among the front-runners. In SS2, Juho Hänninen recorded the third fastest time and finished Day One of competition in third position , which exceeded the team’s expectations. On Day Two, the Yaris WRC again maintained outstanding speed, and both Hänninen and teammate Jari-Matti Latvala consistently recorded leading times. Though Hänninen, who was in third position overall after SS5, was forced to retire after driving off-course, Latvala continued to perform superbly and rose to fourth overall. Driving within the car’s limits to ensure it would finish the race, Latvala progressively increased his pace and managed to mark the third best time in SS7.

At this year’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, large areas of the course were covered in snow. Though the tarmac was dry, ice remained in shady sections, making for tricky conditions. However, Latvala cleared section after section of the difficult course with unflustered driving. He said with a smile: “The more you drive the Yaris WRC, the easier it becomes to drive. There is no need to make major changes to the settings. I can feel the performance increasing further with minor fine tuning.”

The strong performance of both Latvala and the Yaris WRC continued into Day Three. Though some of the other leading drivers encountered accidents or other problems, Latvala’s Yaris WRC was only affected by a minor sensor system issue, which caused no significant loss of time. Latvala rose to third in the standings as a result; Hänninen, who was racing again after repairs to his vehicle, was now in 16th. The two Yaris WRCs entered the Monaco parc ferme together, and preparations commenced for the final day’s racing.

Day Four started in Monaco, with the total length of SS at just around 50 km. At Monte-Carlo, however, it is wise to prepare for the unexpected until the very end. In the past, many drivers have met with problems or accidents just before the finish line and been forced to hold back their tears. For this reason, both Yaris WRCs were driven to the finishing line with great care. As it happened, the competitor running in second place suffered engine trouble, allowing Latvala to climb into second position. Competing in the WRC for the first time in 17 years, the Yaris WRC secured a wholly unexpected second place in its debut event. In addition, Hänninen recorded the third fastest time on the Power Stage of the final SS to secure the bonus points awarded to the fastest drivers. The Yaris WRC demonstrated once again that it was a car that had the ability to compete among the top three.

“If you had told me before the start of the rally that this is where we would finish, I would never have believed it,” said Latvala. “I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the team, who have developed such a wonderful machine.” Mäkinen, meanwhile, praised the performance of his drivers: “Jari-Matti had a problem with a sensor during the rally, which was distracting him, and there was a worry that if he stopped the car in the stage he might not be able to restart. But how he coped with this was very impressive. Juho also demonstrated strong pace to compete with the front-runners.” TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT team members welcomed the drivers and Yaris WRCs back to Monaco with a mixture of relief and satisfaction.

Team Vice-Principal Koei Saga, who watched over all four days of competition, enjoyed the excellent result and, at the same time, objectively analyzed the current state of the team and the Yaris WRC. He determined to further accelerate the pace of development on the vehicle: “I’m so happy that we have finished the first rally of our return with a result that is better than expected, as we aim to make ever-better cars. I’d like to thank all our team members and crews for their hard work, as well as all the fans who have been waiting for us to come back for 17 years. It’s clear that we have good potential, but our competitors are very strong and we still have plenty of work to do to be regarded as their rivals in a real sense.”

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT experienced a smooth start to the 2017 WRC, but it still has a long way to go to achieve its objectives. The team will, no doubt, face times of difficulty. However, after the placing second at Monte-Carlo, all the members of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT are working with greater motivation, and have sworn to do their utmost in the remaining 12 rounds of the season.