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TOYOTA GAZOO RACING WORLD RALLY TEAM

PIAA is an official Partner of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT


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: October 20, 2017

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing READY TO ATTACK THE WELSH FORESTS

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team takes on one of the most famous rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship with Rally GB from October 26-29. Drivers Jari-Matti Latvala, Juho Hänninen and Esapekka Lappi will head into the forests of Wales for the penultimate round of the season, looking to add to the strong potential displayed by the Yaris WRC during its debut campaign.

Car11(Juho Hänninen, Kaj Lindström)
Rally GB takes place over forest tracks through mid and north Wales. In dry conditions these stages can be driven at fairly high speeds, but in the Welsh autumn the pace is tempered by mud, which can make the surfaces treacherously slippery. Fog and even ice can add to the challenge, particularly early in the morning or late in the evening.

The rally begins on Thursday night with a new spectator stage at the Tir Prince trotting track on the north Welsh coast, east of the service park in Deeside. Friday consists of the classic Myherin, Sweet Lamb and Hafren stages, run twice with only a tyre fitting zone in between the two loops. A marathon Saturday features nine stages and ends in darkness. Five more stages conclude the action on Sunday, ending with the Brenig Power Stage.

Quotes:
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“In 2003 I was fighting for the podium with Colin McRae on my last world championship rally, so personally I have really nice memories of Rally GB. It’s the sort of place where you need a lot of confidence with the car, as often there is actually more grip than there appears to be. Then you have the fog and the rain, which is a big challenge. After Spain, we identified some things that we could do a bit differently, so it will be interesting to see the effect of these changes now. Conditions in our pre-event test were warmer than usual, but that should not affect us too much: in the end it is a question of dialling the car into the nature of the roads, and that doesn’t really change. I think we’re well-prepared.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“Britain is a bit like my second home as it’s where I started my career and it was also my first world championship rally. There are some fantastic stages like Myherin and Dyfnant, which I’m looking forward to going back to. We obviously had a few technical issues in some of the recent rallies, but I feel confident that the team has got completely on top of those now and I just want to have two strong events to finish this incredible season. The first few rallies were challenging but maybe less demanding on the car than these events now at the end of the year, so we are learning more all the time as it is still only our first season as a team.”

Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“I’m happy with what we managed to do in Spain, so we go into Rally GB with a lot of confidence. This will be my last rally of the year, so most of all I just want to enjoy it. I’ve not actually competed there since 2014, but luckily most of the stages are still quite the same. Even though I don’t have a huge amount of experience in Wales I’ve always liked it, so I want to make sure that this rally is a nice one for us. We don’t have a particular plan: we just want to take it stage by stage and build on our pace. It’s a strategy that has worked well before.”

Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 12)
“Our pre-event test was good but it was very strange weather: I brought my winter jacket and my hat, but when I stepped out of the hotel it was 22 degrees! Still, I think what we worked on can still be useful if it’s wet and muddy, which is normally what happens on Rally GB. I just hope that there’s not too much fog, as that can be really difficult. We changed some suspension settings and there are a few other lessons that we learned from Spain that I was able to improve on, so we made a lot of progress during the test. Normally I have a good feeling with Rally GB, so now I’m looking forward to getting out on the stages and hopefully we can have a good result at the end.”

2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR DRIVERS AFTER ROUND 11:

1 Sebastien Ogier 198
2 Ott Tänak 161
3 Thierry Neuville 160
4 Jari-Matti Latvala 123
5 Dani Sordo 94
6 Elfyn Evans 93
7 Juho Hänninen 71
8 Craig Breen 64
9 Kris Meeke 60
10 Hayden Paddon 55
11 Esapekka Lappi 49

2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR MANUFACTURERS AFTER ROUND 11:

1 M-Sport World Rally Team 358
2 Hyundai Motorsport 275
3 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT 225
4 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 198
TEAM MEDIA HOUR – RALLY GB

Wednesday 25 October at the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team hospitality in the service park, with drivers and management present, from 18:00-18:45. All media are welcome.

 

PRESS RELEASE: October 8, 2017

HÄNNINEN SECURES A FINE FOURTH PLACE WITH TOYOTA GAZOO Racing IN SPAIN

Juho Hänninen completed the final six stages of the Rally de España without issues to claim a fourth place finish for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team on the mixed-surface event. On a rally he has not competed on for six years, Hänninen impressed with his speed after the switch from gravel to asphalt at the start of Saturday morning, when he took two stage wins to demonstrate the speed of the Yaris WRC on asphalt.

Car 11(Juho Hänninen, Kaj Lindström)
The final day featured two loops of three stages, without a service break in-between. Hänninen posted two top-three stage times during the opening loop, and he finished the rally with fifth place on the Power Stage to claim an additional point. Esapekka Lappi began the day in sixth position but was forced to retire after he hit a barrier on the second stage of the morning. Jari-Matti Latvala retired from the rally on Friday after a heavy impact damaged the lubrication system and caused him to stop.

Quotes:
Tommi Mäkinen (Team principal)
“I am really pleased with this result for Juho. It was difficult for all three guys on Friday but the performance of the car on asphalt was fantastic, and Juho has driven really, really well. It was brilliant to see the results of the hard work that the team has put in. It was unfortunate what happened to Esapekka this morning, but I’m sure he has learnt a lot this weekend. I’m also sad that Jari-Matti’s rally ended so early, but the potential looks good for the future.”

Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“I’m very happy with this result. Yesterday and today have been two of the most enjoyable days of rallying I’ve ever had. Yesterday was really good and today I tried to keep it quite steady because there was a big gap behind. On asphalt we have had a really, really good car. I have felt really confident with it and I haven’t had to take any big risks. It’s really important for me to see that I am able to fight for the leading positions even though I haven’t been here for a long time.”

Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 12)
“I am annoyed with my mistake today which prevented us from finishing the rally. There was a change in the road surface and it was more slippery than I expected. I didn’t think it would make that much difference to the grip but it did. It is something that I will try to learn for the future. It has been a frustrating rally for me but I have gained some good experience driving this car on this event and the speed on Saturday was not so bad in the afternoon. The car felt really good on asphalt too, so there are some positives to take for sure.”

 

PROVISIONAL FINAL RESULT, RALLY DE ESPAÑA:

1 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) 3h01m21.1s
2 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +28.0s
3 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +33.0s
4 Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +54.1s
5 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2m26.2s
6 Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau (Citroen C3 WRC): +2m43.0s
7 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4m37.4s
8 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta R5) +8m22.7s
9 Jan Kopecky/Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +8m54.5s
10 Ole Christian Veiby/Stig Rune Skjaermoen (Skoda Fabia R5) +9m04.8s
Ret Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC)
Ret Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC)
(Results as of 15:00 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR DRIVERS AFTER ROUND 11:

1 Sebastien Ogier 198
2 Ott Tanak 161
3 Thierry Neuville 160
4 Jari-Matti Latvala 123
5 Dani Sordo 94
6 Elfyn Evans 93
7 Juho Hänninen 71
8 Craig Breen 64
9 Kris Meeke 60
10 Hayden Paddon 55
11 Esapekka Lappi 49

What’s next?
Rally GB will be the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship season on October 26-29. Taking place in the forests of Wales, the event is known for often adverse weather conditions which create a muddy low-grip surface. Fog and ice can also be common.

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: August 20th, 2017

A STRONG FINISH FOR TOYOTA GAZOO RACING IN GERMANY

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team enjoyed a great final day on Rallye Deutschland with two more stage wins, taking its total this weekend to five and demonstrating the progress that the team is making with the Yaris WRC on asphalt. Juho Hänninen took his second stage win of the event as he finished a superb fourth overall. Jari-Matti Latvala finished seventh, while Esapekka Lappi also scored a stage win to end his challenging event on a high note.

Car 11(Juho Hänninen, Kaj Lindström)
Hänninen began the day by winning the Losheim am See stage to lift him up into fourth place, a position which he then cemented over the final three tests. It completed a great performance from Hänninen on a rally he last contested in 2011. On the next stage, St. Wendeler Land, Lappi took a satisfying stage win. The Rally Finland winner had been forced to retire from the opening leg after damaging his car’s suspension and then struggled for speed after restarting yesterday, but he carefully analysed his performance overnight and made a clear improvement. Latvala, who won two stages himself earlier in the rally but was delayed by a technical issue, made it a Toyota one-two on the stage. Lappi and Latvala later finished second and third on the rally-ending Power Stage to claim four and three bonus points respectively, with Lappi missing out on the win by only 0.2 seconds.

Quotes:
Tommi Mäkinen (Team principal)
“I am very pleased with our performance on this rally. It could have been even more but for the issue for Jari-Matti on Friday. At the beginning of the rally he had good speed and he could easily have fought for the win. Today was a very good day for us. Especially for Esapekka, he made a good improvement. Today was very important day for him to improve his confidence for this kind of condition. And now I’m really sure that Esapekka is ready to come here next year for fighting. Juho did generally a very excellent drive with fast stage times, and very close to be fighting for the podium. We are confident now that the performance on tarmac is also at a good level. It’s looking good now for the future. Now we will go to Spain where we again should improve our performance.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“In the first stage this morning I was a little bit slow; I wasn’t quite awake yet. The second one went really well. I liked the stage and I had a good feeling about it going into the Power Stage. Unfortunately I had a touch in a left-hand corner very early in the stage, and I didn’t push because I was afraid I had a puncture. Still, it’s nice to get some points after the problem earlier in the rally.”

Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“I’m very happy with this result. I lost a lot of time on the first day, but after that it has been good. The car has been great and the feeling has been good. I could enjoy pushing this morning, and then I backed off a bit. It’s very positive, especially if you compare it to the first part of the season.”

Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 12)
“We did a lot of analysis last night and found things that I was doing wrong, and today was a lot better. The second stage was really good. On the next one I went off because I braked too late, and the engine stalled. On the Power Stage I was really lucky, I had a big moment. But we must be happy with the speed we had today.”

PROVISIONAL FINAL RESULT, RALLYE DEUTSCHLAND:

1 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2h57m31.7s
2 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Citroen C3 WRC) +16.4s
3 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +30.4s
4 Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m49.2s
5 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC): +2m01.5s
6 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2m03.4s
7 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3m58.2s
8 Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +4m32.4s
9 Armin Kremer/Pirmin Winklhofer (Ford Fiesta WRC) +10m19.4s
10 Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas (Ford Fiesta R5) +10m44.3s
21 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +18m05.2s
(Results as of 13:00 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)

2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR DRIVERS AFTER ROUND 10:

1 Sebastien Ogier 177
2 Thierry Neuville 160
3 Ott Tanak 144
4 Jari-Matti Latvala 123
5 Dani Sordo 89
6 Elfyn Evans 87
7 Craig Breen 64
8 Juho Hänninen 58
9 Hayden Paddon 55
10 Esapekka Lappi 49

2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR MANUFACTURERS AFTER ROUND 10:

1 M-Sport World Rally Team 325
2 Hyundai Motorsport 261
3 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT 213
4 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 163

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: July 30th, 2017

RALLY FINLAND: Historic result for TOYOTA GAZOO RACING WRT at home

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has claimed a stunning victory on home territory at Rally Finland, with Esapekka Lappi claiming his debut victory and Juho Hänninen finishing third: the first time the team has had two cars on the podium. Not only that, but the Yaris WRC led for 22 stages out of 25 in total, claiming 18 stage wins, 13 stage one-two finishes and one stage one-two-three finishes.

Prize Giving Ceremony
Latvala was forced to retire from the lead on Saturday, but returned to action on Sunday and was quickest on three more stages – one of them jointly with Hänninen. He took fourth on the Power Stage to claim two additional championship points at the end of a weekend that will go down in history for the team.

Quotes:
Akio Toyoda (Team Chairman)
“Esapekka Lappi has brought us the best possible outcome on the team’s home rally and I would like to express my appreciation to all our fans for their strong support, as we celebrate this special moment together. Juho Hänninen also achieved his best career result: as our main test driver from the beginning of the project, the Yaris WRC wouldn’t have been born without him. I feel sorry for Jari-Matti Latvala, who was affected by a technical problem, but his driving on the final day showed again that he never gives up and we are so proud of him. For me, Finland is a special event as I visited three years ago, talking with Tommi Mäkinen about what makes an ever-better car. Then we started this project, with the idea of learning more about making ever-better cars through rallying. Here, I believe our Yaris WRC showed significant performance because it was developed on roads in Finland. So, it was a really touching moment – watching the event on television from Japan – when I listened to both the Finnish and Japanese national anthems on the podium. Now we will keep on learning throughout the year. The biggest challenges are still to come. Thank you to all the fans. I look forward to your continued support.”

Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“It has been almost perfect; the problem for Jari-Matti on Saturday was really the only disappointment. I have to thank our team. They have put the maximum in to make a step forward on this rally. We were able to supply our drivers with a very fast car and the drivers did their very best job. Congratulations to Esapekka and Juho in particular. I still remember my first win here, and I had strong feelings that Esapekka could do the same as I did 23 years ago.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“Luckily after our problem yesterday we were able to come back today and it started really well, winning the first three stages. We had a good run on the Power Stage but the road was more slippery for me than the drivers who followed, so two points was the maximum. Even though it could have been even better, it’s a great team result with Esapekka taking his first win and Juho his first podium, well done to both of them.”

Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“It’s been an amazing weekend and I’m very happy with this result. Of course, I tried to get second, but we made a few mistakes. I’m still very happy to be on the podium for the first time in my career. Thank you to the team and this fantastic car that made it possible.”

Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 12)
“I’m not normally an emotional person but this is amazing. What a rally. I could never have imagined that we could get a result like this, so it’s a very big surprise. I have to say a big thank you to the team because they have built such a great car in a very short period.”

FINAL RESULT, RALLY FINLAND:

1 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2h29m26.9s
2 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +36s
3 Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +36.3s
4 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m01.5s
5 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +1m22.6s
6 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m33.1s
7 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m53.6s
8 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +3m12.6s
9 Dani Sordo/Marc Martí (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +4m11.5s
10 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4m21.2s
21 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +20m15.8s
(Results as of 19:30 on Sunday local time, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)

2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR DRIVERS AFTER ROUND NINE:

1 Thierry Neuville 160
2 Sebastien Ogier 160
3 Ott Tanak 119
4 Jari-Matti Latvala 114
5 Dani Sordo 84
6 Elfyn Evans 79
7 Craig Breen 53
8 Hayden Paddon 51
9 Juho Hänninen 46
10 Esapekka Lappi 45

2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR MANUFACTURERS AFTER ROUND NINE:

1 M-Sport World Rally Team 285
2 Hyundai Motorsport 251
3 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT 193
4 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 135

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: July 2, 2017

LATVALA WINS THE POWER STAGE, HÄNNINEN ALSO SCORES

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team ended a challenging event at Rally Poland by taking the win in the Power Stage with Jari-Matti Latvala. It was his fourth stage win of the weekend and gave him five points to add to his championship score, lifting him up into third in the standings. Latvala had retired from Saturday but before that he was involved in a close battle for the win, and led in wet and slippery conditions on the first day. Juho Hänninen also scored, finishing in 10th position.

Car 10(Jari-Matti Latvala, Miikka Anttila)
The final day was made up of four stages, ending with the Paprotki Power Stage. After having to stop during Saturday afternoon with a mechanical issue, Latvala restarted with the target of picking up points on the Power Stage, which he won by 4.9 seconds. Delayed by issues on Saturday, Hänninen moved back into the top 10 on the final day to score points for the sixth time this season.

Quotes:
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Today we achieved the objectives we had the beginning of the day, with Jari-Matti taking maximum points on the Power Stage and Juho completing the rally in the top 10. Jari-Matti came back well from the disappointment of retiring yesterday. He again showed great speed, like he did earlier in the weekend. Overall, the result wasn't what we expected but the pace we had here was a positive going on to Finland.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“Of course, it was disappointing to retire on Saturday but it was important that we came back and managed to win the Power Stage. I was focusing a lot before the stage, going through all the corners and the braking points in my mind, and it paid off. We scored five more points and it gives me the confidence again that our car is very fast and we can challenge our rivals in the rallies that are coming up. Thanks to the team for the work to prepare my car to restart today and ensure we could get these five points. They could still be very valuable in the championship.”

Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“It has been a challenging weekend. The conditions were very difficult. When it was really slippery, on the harder ground, we actually had decent pace, but in the softer ground with the deep ruts we were losing quite a bit of time and it was frustrating. We will try to improve this for the future. Luckily, Rally Finland is next and I am sure this will be better, as we will have a good test beforehand.”

PROVISIONAL FINAL RESULT, RALLY POLAND:

1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 2h40m46.1s
2 Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m23.9s
3 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2m20.8s
4 Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2m47.4s
5 Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau (Citroen C3 WRC) +3m11.8s
6 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3m16.8s
7 Mads Ostberg/Ola Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3m39.6s
8 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4m39.1s
9 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Citroen C3 WRC) +4m43.5s
10 Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4m53.7s
20 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +28m01.0s

Retired Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC)
(Results as of 17:00 on Sunday local time, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)

2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR DRIVERS AFTER ROUND EIGHT:

1 Sebastien Ogier 160
2 Thierry Neuville 149
3 Jari-Matti Latvala 112
4 Ott Tanak 108
5 Dani Sordo 82
6 Elfyn Evans 57
7 Hayden Paddon 51
8 Craig Breen 43
9 Juho Hänninen 30
10 Kris Meeke 27
13 Esapekka Lappi 20

2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR MANUFACTURERS AFTER ROUND EIGHT:

1 M-Sport World Rally Team 259
2 Hyundai Motorsport 237
3 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT 153
4 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 117

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: June 11, 2017

RALLY ITALIA SARDINIA - PODIUM FOR LATVALA, POINTS AND FASTEST TIMES FOR LAPPI AND HÄNNINEN

At the end of an incredibly challenging four days for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team, it was an excellent result: second for Jari-Matti Latvala, narrowing the points gap to the championship leader, while Esapekka Lappi was fourth, having claimed a remarkable six fastest stage times (including the Power Stage): more than any other driver this weekend. Juho Hänninen led the rally on Friday and also won a stage, eventually finishing sixth.

Car 10(Jari-Matti Latvala, Miikka Anttila)
The final day consisted of just four stages, ending with the Power Stage close to Alghero. Latvala and Lappi maintained the positions that they held the previous night, despite Latvala making two small mistakes. Lappi won the Power Stage on only his second rally in the Yaris WRC, adding to his points total. Hänninen had to cope with a steering problem, which had also affected him the day before, but still equalled the best WRC overall finish of his career.

Quotes:
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“This was one of our strongest rallies without a doubt. The results we had here speak for themselves, so the only thing for me to say is many thanks to the people who make this all possible: drivers, co-drivers, engineers, mechanics and team. It’s because of them that we can achieve this in only the first half of our first season. But of course we have plenty more work still to do.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“In the end, we were quite close and so I’m happy about this result but I’m a bit disappointed with myself after two mistakes I made today: on the second stage this morning I stalled the car when I was in second gear in the high ruts, then when the same stage was run again as the Power Stage this afternoon I couldn’t get the car turning around the junction.
Anyway, all in all I’m happy for the team: it was a good result and a good performance.”

Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“There are many positives we can take away: we tested a lot of things and we gathered lots of useful information for the future. Unfortunately, today we had an intermittent steering issue – the same thing as yesterday – and that cost us a bit of time. But still we score some good points and my best result so far in the Yaris WRC. After the rally, it’s easy to regret the mistake I made on the last stage of Friday: that certainly penalised us in the start order on Saturday, so maybe things could have been different. It’s all part of the sport though and the main thing is we have a good team result with all three cars.”

Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 12)
“I’m happy with this rally, we learned a lot. Today was good, especially the Power Stage, as that’s a stage where a lot of the drivers are pushing very hard. For the first two stages today I was in full tyre saving mode: that’s why the times were not so good but in any case we had nothing to lose or gain. Then on the stage before the Power Stage I pushed a little bit harder to get a feel for the speed again, then on the Power Stage it was full attack, but we had no problems: clean with no mistakes. On this rally, the most important thing I learned was the driving style of the car on these slow and twisty roads; now I need to find out a bit more about how to drive the car when we get to fast roads.”

FINAL RESULT, RALLY ITALIA SARDEGNA:

1 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3h25m15.1s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +12.3s
3 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m07.7s
4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2m12.9s
5 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3m25.3s
6 Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3m38.5s
7 Mads Ostberg/Ola Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +6m31.8s
8 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Citroen C3 WRC) +8m07.8s
9 Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas (Ford Fiesta R5) +11m15.8s
10 Jan Kopecky/Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +11m21.4s
(Results as of 20:00 on Sunday local time, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR DRIVERS AFTER ROUND SEVEN:

1 Sebastien Ogier 141
2 Thierry Neuville 123
3 Ott Tanak 108
4 Jari-Matti Latvala 107
5 Dani Sordo 70
6 Elfyn Evans 53
7 Craig Breen 43
8 Hayden Paddon 33
9 Juho Hänninen 29
10 Kris Meeke 27
11 Esapekka Lappi 20

 

 

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.