TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team continues to lead the manufacturers’ standings after round two of the FIA World Rally Championship season at Rally Sweden, despite narrowly missing out on a podium finish following a closely-fought weekend on snow and ice.
Kalle Rovanperä finished in fourth position, just 5.1 seconds from third, after fighting hard until the very last stage. Warmer conditions meant that last year’s Rally Sweden winner was at a greater disadvantage this time running first on the road on Friday, but he fought back well to begin the final day only 3.8s away from a podium position. That gap was further reduced to 1.1s thanks to a stage win in Sunday’s opening test, but rival Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) responded on the next stage and managed to hold on to the place.
With an extra three bonus points for the third-fastest time on the rally-ending Power Stage, Rovanperä remains second in the drivers’ championship, only three points behind leader Ott Tänak (M-Sport Ford).
Elfyn Evans finished one position behind Rovanperä in fifth overall, after working during the rally to improve his feeling with the car in the tricky conditions. This culminated in the second-best time in the Power Stage, just 0.6 seconds from the fastest time and 0.015s quicker than Rovanperä, which keeps him fourth in the championship.
The extra points from the Power Stage mean that TGR-WRT remains in the lead of the manufacturers’ championship by 14 points.
Rally Sweden was the debut for Takamoto Katsuta as part of the team’s three-car manufacturer line-up and the Japanese driver performed impressively on Friday morning when he was involved in the lead fight and won a stage.
Having been caught out in the afternoon by the snowbanks that line the stages and rolling his car, Katsuta restarted on Saturday and gained valuable new experience opening the road on snow. No longer in contention for a points finish, his car was retired prior to Sunday’s final stage after he had reported an issue in the previous test.
There was another first for TGR-WRT this weekend with Lorenzo Bertelli becoming the first customer driver to compete behind the wheel of the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID. The Italian, always a popular and enthusiastic presence during his occasional WRC appearances, enjoyed the experience of driving the car on one of his favourite rallies, completing every stage and reaching the finish in 14th place.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“This was certainly a rally that we were hoping to get something more from, given that it has usually been a strong event for us in the past. We suffered a bit on the first day when the conditions were not ideal for our road positions and those starting further back were able to attack and build a gap. We tried to fight back and speed-wise I think we saw some positive signs but things just didn’t quite click for us in the end. We have seen a great fight here between all of the teams and it’s clear that the competition is going to be very close this year, just like we expected. With the results from the Power Stage we have still scored some good points: we maintain the lead of the manufacturers’ championship and Kalle stays close to the lead of the drivers’ standings without having to open the road in Mexico.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY SWEDEN
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) 2h25m54.5s
2 Craig Breen/James Fulton (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +18.7s
3 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +20.0s
4 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +25.1s
5 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1m24.0s
6 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +5m59.0s
7 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +7m42.4s
8 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +7m48.1s
9 Ole Christian Veiby/Torstein Eriksen (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) +8m30.4s
10 Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +9m03.2s
Retired Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID)
(Results as of 13:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The WRC returns to Rally México for the first time since 2020 on March 16-19. The first gravel event of the season features temperatures in the region of 30°C, and high altitude is also a major factor with a route that peaks at 2,747 metres above sea level.
Press release TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team