A run of consecutive gravel-based events for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team begins with a double-header in South America. First comes an established classic event, Rally Argentina (April 25-28), where the Toyota Yaris WRC claimed victory in 2018. A brand new challenge will follow in the form of Rally Chile (May 9-12). The team approaches both events with confidence along with its driver line-up of Ott Tänak, Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke, who have all tasted victory in Argentina in recent years.
Part of the FIA World Rally Championship calendar almost every year since the event began in 1980, Rally Argentina takes place over a variety of gravel stages, from sandy roads in the valleys to rocky tracks in the mountains. Watersplashes are a common feature at the many river crossings, while fog is a familiar sight over higher terrain.
The 2019 event remains faithful to a trusted format out of the lakeside Villa Carlos Paz resort, where the action begins with a Thursday night super special. Most of Friday’s stages take place to the south in the Santa Rosa de Calamuchita Valley, while Saturday’s stages run to the north-west in the Punilla Valley. Sunday has three stages in the Traslasierra mountains including two passes of the famous El Cóndor – the latter as the rally-ending Power Stage.
Chile’s first-ever WRC round will be based in the port city of Concepción and feature medium-fast stages on smooth and compact gravel roads through forests, as well as some more open sections with views of the Pacific Ocean. Crews will have to make a full set of pace notes from scratch during the pre-event recce, and decide on a car setup without testing in Chile, which is prohibited by the regulations.
Rally Chile will begin with two loops of three stages south of Concepcion on the opening day, which will end with a stage on the city streets. A compact second day features three stages each run twice closer to the city. Sunday is made up of four stages in total, starting and finishing with a stage that begins by the Bio Bio river and ends at the Pacific coast.
With a gap of less than two weeks between the two South American events, the preparation for the teams is more complex, and must consider both rallies. They are defined as ‘linked rallies’ by the regulations, meaning that for cars classified in the final stage in Argentina, the same chassis, engine and transmissions (including spare transmissions) must also be used in Chile.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“We didn’t get the results that we hoped for in our last rally in Corsica, but the confidence in the team is high going into the next two events in South America. Argentina is of course a rally that everybody knows well, including our drivers. Ott was very strong there when he won for us last year, and I think he is feeling good about his chances again. I know it’s a rally that both Jari-Matti and Kris enjoy too. Chile is a bit of question mark for all the teams, but we understand that the road conditions should be very smooth, and I believe it should suit our car. We have been testing in Portugal to prepare for the upcoming rallies on gravel, working on the suspension to give us more grip and traction. Having these next two events back-to-back like this certainly provides the team with some more challenges. Doing the rebuild of the cars down there between events will be a new thing for us, but hopefully there won’t be too much work for the guys to do!”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“Rally Argentina is one of the greatest events we have in the WRC. There is a lot of passion and a lot of spectators: some of them camping in the mountains, waiting to see the rally cars come by. The rally itself has some very nice, beautiful stages. The main challenge is that they can get quite rough for the second pass. On the other hand, I have been looking at how the roads are in Chile, and that won’t be a rough event: there are no rocks and the sides of the road are very clean. Some places actually remind me of how the forest stages in Britain are when they’re dry. My motivation is now very high, and I’m looking forward to getting started on these two events and being in the fight.”
What happened last year? (Rally Argentina)
Ott Tänak claimed his first win behind the wheel of the Toyota Yaris WRC with a dominant performance in Argentina, going quickest on 10 stages and finishing up more than half a minute clear of second place. Esapekka Lappi completed his debut Rally Argentina in eighth position while Jari-Matti Latvala retired after an impact with a rock on the third stage.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is inspired by the motto: “ALL FOR WIN” as it competes throughout the 2019 season. Our goal in 2019 is to fight for all three crowns. All team members are aiming for this big goal together. We look forward to your continuous support!
Press release TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team