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    Follow me from Rallye Monte-Carlo to Australia!

    Rally Australia – Day 1 – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing holding a strong position in the season finale

    November 16, 2018
    Jari-Matti Latvala, Ott Tänak and Esapekka Lappi all demonstrated the strong performance of the Toyota Yaris WRC as the final and deciding round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship season got underway in Australia. Latvala completed the first day of stages in third position, with Tänak and Lappi overcoming adversity to hold fifth and sixth respectively overnight: positions that help the team remain on course to clinch this year’s manufacturers’ title. Courtesy of their top five positions in the drivers’ standings, the Toyota trio were among the first cars on the road over Australia’s dusty gravel stages. Nonetheless, they locked out the first three positions on the opening test and each set a fastest time from the first four stages. Consistently strong pace from Latvala ensured that he ended the day just 8.7 seconds away from the lead and set for a much more favourable road position for Saturday, the longest day of the rally. On SS5, both Tänak and Lappi were caught out by a watersplash: the heavy impacts with the water caused Tänak to lose front bodywork from his car, affecting the handling, and forced Lappi to a brief halt with a misfire. Both maintained good speed thereafter however, with Tänak within 16.9 seconds of the lead with two days remaining. Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal) “We had a very good start this morning, with all three drivers proving to be quite competitive and having a good feeling with the car. Unfortunately, Ott and Esapekka both suffered in the same watersplash: I think that maybe they were a little bit too sideways and this caused them problems. Jari-Matti was strong for most of the day and I think it is generally looking good for the team as we try to win the manufacturers’ championship. We have good road positions for tomorrow and we can be confident in our performance.” Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7) “Today has mostly been very good. This morning I did some mistakes and lost a little bit of time, but in the afternoon loop in the forest stages I was really satisfied with how it went: the driving was very consistent and clean. I did lose some time on the super specials, as I had the hard tyres and I was missing some traction. Still, everything remains close and tomorrow we will have a good road position, which is going to be important.” End of day one (Friday): 1 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) 53m37.4s 2 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +6.8s 3 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +8.7s 4 Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +12.5s 5 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +16.9s 6 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +28.3s 7 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +38.2s 8 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +45.2s 9 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +47.2s 10 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m11.9s (Results as of 18:30 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)

    Rally Australia 2018 – Preview – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing targets title glory in Australia

    November 9, 2018
    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team travels to Rally Australia (November 15-18) for the final round of the 2018 season, aiming to claim the manufacturers’ championship in which it currently holds a 12-point lead. Ott Tänak remains in contention for the drivers’ title, 23 points behind the leader, with his fellow Toyota Yaris WRC drivers Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala also within the top five in the standings. Based in Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales coast, mid-way between Sydney and Brisbane, Rally Australia features a mixture of gravel roads, from twisting forest tracks to more open and flowing country roads. After shakedown on Thursday morning, the first competitive action will be on Friday to the north of Coffs Harbour, with the new Orara East and Coldwater stages and the unchanged Sherwood all run twice. Saturday’s loop is based to the south, and includes two new stages that use parts of the old Nambucca test, plus Urunga and the Raleigh raceway. Both Friday and Saturday end with two runs over a short, water-side asphalt test in Coffs Harbour. The final day of the season on Sunday features three stages all run twice, with the Wedding Bells Power Stage followed closely by the podium ceremony. Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal) “This has been a thrilling season with many ups and downs, and everything is set for a very exciting final round in Australia. We have a great opportunity in front of us: to win a championship in just our second year would a fantastic achievement. As always, it is not going to be easy, but we have reasons to be confident. We showed good performance on gravel in Britain and in Spain, and we seem to have found some improvements in these kind of conditions, which are quite similar to what we should face in Australia. Everybody is working hard towards our target, and with a strong car and three strong drivers, I think we have a good chance to reach it.” Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7) “I am really looking forward to Australia. It is a rally that I really enjoy a lot. Firstly, the atmopshere is relaxed and the weather is usually great, so it’s a nice place to end the season. Then there are the stages: they have made a lot of changes to the route this year, but we have driven most of the roads before and we know that they are usually quite fast, which is of course what I like! I am going there confident after the speed we have shown recently, and I hope to get a good result to help us to win the championship.” What happened last year? The Toyota Yaris WRC completed its debut season with a competitive showing in Australia. Jari-Matti Latvala held second place until an off on the final stage, but still clinched fourth in the drivers’ championship. Team-mate Esapekka Lappi completed the rally in sixth overall as the team finished third in the manufacturers’ standings.

    Rally RACC Catalunya – Final – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing completes a rollercoaster rally in Spain

    October 29, 2018
    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team leads the manufacturers’ championship standings heading to the final round of the season following the conclusion of an eventful Rally de España. Ott Tänak also retains a chance in the drivers’ title race after scoring maximum points in the Power Stage and finishing sixth overall, just in front of team-mates Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala. The Toyota Yaris WRC again proved its strong performance throughout the demanding rally, which featured a mix of surfaces with both gravel and asphalt, as well as a wide range of weather conditions. Tänak led the rally until a puncture on Saturday morning relegated him down the order. On the final day he was able to move up to sixth overall and post the best time on the Power Stage, earning five bonus points to leave him within 23 points of the drivers’ championship lead with 30 points still available. Latvala produced a stunning fight-back from a puncture on Friday to lead on Saturday night at the head of an extremely close six-way battle. He was lying second and still firmly in the fight for the victory when he touched an armco barrier on the penultimate stage, leading to wheel damage and a flat tyre. After having to take a safety-first approach to the final stage, he finished up eighth overall. This gave seventh to Lappi, who recovered from a difficult Friday to display strong speed on Saturday. On Sunday, Lappi succeeded in his aim to finish the rally and, together with Tänak, clinch crucial points for the manufacturers’ championship: the team has a 12-point lead as it bids to claim the crown in just the second season of Toyota’s rallying return. Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal) “It has been an incredible weekend with a lot of highs and lows and an amazing battle from start to finish. It could have turned out so much better for us. Still, all three drivers got to the end of the rally, scored the points for the manufacturers’ championship and Ott did a great job on the Power Stage to keep the drivers’ title alive. We still feel really confident going to Australia: we have fast drivers and a fast, reliable car.” Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7) “We were too soft with the tyres and with the setup this morning, but the second stage was a lot better and the fight for the win was still on. The car felt really good and everything was going well. Unfortunately, in one corner I turned too quickly and I touched a pillar that was supporting the barrier. It damaged the tyre immediately so we had to drive half the stage with a punctured tyre. I am really sorry for my mistake, but this can happen when you are fighting for every tenth of a second. The result was not what we wanted but I am very happy with the performance this weekend, and I am really looking forward to Australia.” PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY

    Rally RACC Catalunya – Saturday – Latvala reigns for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing after a day of rain in Spain

    October 27, 2018
    The Toyota Yaris WRC continues to lead the way as Rally de España made a dramatic switch from dry and dusty gravel to wet and slippery asphalt for the penultimate day. Jari-Matti Latvala completed a remarkable recovery from his Friday puncture to take the rally lead during the afternoon, after Ott Tänak’s march to a fourth win in five events was cruelly ended by a flat tyre of his own this morning. The change of surface from gravel to asphalt for today was met with the further complication of heavy rain, creating a dilemma for the teams over tyre choice. The Toyota drivers opted to take the full wet tyre for the morning loop: a decision that looked inspired when Tänak and Latvala were quicker than anybody else on SS9, allowing Tänak to increase the lead he built during Friday to 32.9 seconds. However, on SS10 Tänak had to stop and change a damaged wheel and tyre. He finished the stage 1m43s down and dropped to ninth on the leaderboard. Latvala and Esapekka Lappi kept up the strong form of the Yaris WRC with another one-two on the stage. Having been as low as 10th after his puncture, Latvala began the day fifth overall, and then moved up to second, just 0.3s off the lead. He duly claimed the lead on the first stage of the afternoon loop and then kept hold of it through difficult, muddy conditions. He has an advantage of 4.7s, with the top five drivers covered by 12.7s in an extremely close fight. Lappi continued to show good pace and completed the day in seventh overall. Tänak is one place behind him, with his recovery efforts hampered by having the worst of the slippery road conditions. Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal) “It has been a really eventful day full of mixed emotions. For Ott to get the puncture in the morning was obviously very disappointing when everything was again going so well for him. It has clearly had a very big effect on his bid for the championship. After this, it was great to see Jari-Matti take the lead, especially after his drama yesterday. We know that he has some very strong drivers right behind him, but he has great confidence in the car and it is performing well in all weather conditions, so I am sure that he can keep it until the finish.” Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7) “To be leading after our issue yesterday is a great feeling and shows why you should never give up. The conditions were very demanding all day with the rain and lots of mud coming onto the road. The car was working well though and I think our tyre choices were good. In the last two stages I was a little bit cautious and we lost some time but we are still leading. It is going to be a big fight tomorrow. I have a five-time champion and a nine-time champion right behind me, but I will
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