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    Follow me from Rallye Monte-Carlo to Rally Japan!

    Ogier claims ninth Monte win in TOYOTA GAZOO Racing one-two

    January 26, 2023
    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has started the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship with a one-two finish on Rallye Monte-Carlo as Sébastien Ogier claimed a record ninth victory on the legendary event ahead of team-mate Kalle Rovanperä. Mostly dry weather made this year’s rally more a test of outright performance than usual, and Ogier set the pace from the start with five straight stage wins as he opened up a lead of half a minute by Friday lunchtime. The GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID was fastest in the first 11 stages of the season, its streak only ended on Saturday afternoon – by which point Ogier was focused on managing his lead. He carried an advantage of 16 seconds over Rovanperä into the final day, when he proceeded to claim his eighth and ninth stage wins of the weekend and finished up with a winning margin of 18.8s. Ogier’s 56th WRC win is also the first for his co-driver Vincent Landais, in only the second event since he began working with the up-and-coming French navigator at the end of last season. It is also Toyota’s fifth Monte win with a fifth different model of car: the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID winning all but two of the 18 stages across the weekend. With Ogier once more only contesting selected events this season, second place plus victory in the rally-ending Power Stage represents an ideal start to Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen’s defence of their first championship titles. Rovanperä grew in confidence and speed during the rally, taking six stage wins in total on his way to a first Rallye Monte-Carlo podium. Elfyn Evans displayed similarly strong pace to his team-mates throughout the weekend and was second to Ogier before losing around 40s with a damaged tyre in SS5 on Friday morning. He and co-driver Scott Martin fought back to finish fourth, 27.8s from the podium despite a brief spin on Sunday morning. He was also third in the Power Stage to claim three additional bonus points. The strong start to the season for TGR was completed by Takamoto Katsuta in his WRC Challenge Program-supported entry. He produced his strongest Rallye Monte-Carlo performance to-date alongside co-driver Aaron Johnston, frequently joining his team-mates in the top-four on stage times and finishing sixth overall. Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)“We are very delighted with this result, it’s an amazing way to start the season. We were expecting tough competition this year and we were not sure how this rally would go, but all of the work that everybody in the team has put in has really paid off. Coming here to Monte Carlo I knew Sébastien was very motivated after coming so close to victory last year. You could see that hunger in his eyes from the start on Thursday night and after that he did a perfect drive. At the same time I’m also very happy to see the great pace of Kalle, of Elfyn and of Takamoto. Kalle improved step-by-step for his first Monte

    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing starts WRC title defence on magical Monte

    January 14, 2023
    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team aims to begin the defence of its FIA World Rally Championship titles with a victory on the legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo, which opens the 2023 season on January 19-22. TGR-WRT has set its sights on a third successive WRC triple crown following a successful debut season in 2022 for its GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID car, which swept the drivers’, co-drivers’ and manufacturers’ world championships. The team continues to work hard to improve this winning package, and the most obvious change for 2023 is new rear fender bodywork featuring a revised cooling inlet for the car’s hybrid system. Other developments include a new specification of engine with a higher output. After becoming the youngest ever WRC drivers’ champion at the age of 22, Kalle Rovanperä returns to defend his crown together with co-driver Jonne Halttunen. They are joined again for the full season by twice championship runners-up, Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin. Eight-time champion Sébastien Ogier commences another partial schedule of rallies on his home roads in the French Alps – where he will target a record ninth Rallye Monte-Carlo victory – and continues to work with co-driver Vincent Landais after they joined forces at the end of last year. Takamoto Katsuta will step up to share the team’s third entry with Ogier during the season, while also continuing to gain experience on all the remaining rallies – beginning with Monte-Carlo – in an additional fourth entry alongside co-driver Aaron Johnston as part of the TGR WRC Challenge Program. Rallye Monte-Carlo is the oldest and most famous event on the WRC calendar, and often also one of the most demanding. Changeable weather conditions can mean drivers sometimes face dry asphalt and snow and ice in the same stage. As a result, tyre choice is crucial. As in 2022, the service park will again be located on the harbourfront in Monaco itself, with the rally to start from the iconic Casino Square before two Thursday night stages. The first of these climbs up to finish at the famed Col de Turini, while the second descends from La Cabanette on roads last used at the end of the 2020 edition and is the longest test of the rally at 24.9 kilometres. Friday consists of two loops of three stages to the north-west of Monaco around Puget-Théniers, which hosts a tyre-fitting zone in place of mid-day service. Saturday follows a similar format but is longer, with the action taking place further to the west and crews only due to return to Monaco almost 15 hours after they left. Sunday pairs two passes of the classic Luceram – Lantosque test with two more runs up the Col de Turini, where the rally will conclude at the end of the Power Stage. Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)“As a rally fan the start of the season is always a very exciting moment and this year is no different. Every team is able to win so we expect that this season is going to

    Rally RACC – Round 12 – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing seals manufacturers’ crown in style with Ogier win

    October 24, 2022
    The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has completed an FIA World Rally Championship treble in style by clinching the 2022 manufacturers’ title* with a superb win for Sébastien Ogier at Rally de España. The manufacturers’ championship success follows the drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles that were won by Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen on the previous rally in New Zealand. It’s the second year in a row that the team has managed a clean sweep of the three available titles: An especially notable achievement given that it spans a major revolution in the technical regulations introduced at the start of this season when the all-new GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID succeeded the Yaris WRC. In total, this is the sixth occasion that Toyota has topped the WRC’s manufacturers’ classification, the third time since it returned to the series in 2017. The rally win in Spain is the team’s seventh of the season and a first for the outgoing eight-time champion Ogier in his part-time campaign. The 55th victory of his career is also a maiden triumph for co-driver Benjamin Veillas. In his first asphalt rally since January’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, Ogier was among the pacesetters from the start, winning three stages on Friday to lead despite having to deal with dirtier roads than his rivals in mixed weather conditions. He took three more stage wins in a commanding performance on Saturday as he pulled away from the pack, and went on to win the last two stages of the rally on Sunday – including the final Power Stage – as he clinched victory by 16.4 seconds. Rovanperä was also in the battle for the lead on Friday when he was fastest in four stages, and eventually finished in third position overall. His hopes of second place faded after he was one of several to sustain tyre damage over a drain cover in Sunday’s second stage. Elfyn Evans was part of a close-fought top five at the beginning of the rally but was unable to find the perfect feeling to match the rapid pace at the front. A flat tyre on Friday afternoon and another at the same place as Rovanperä on SS17 contributed to him finishing sixth overall – still an important result to help the team towards its main goal. One place further behind in seventh was Takamoto Katsuta who recovered from a difficult start to show strong and consistent speed in his TGR WRT Next Generation entry.  Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal) “I am really proud of this team and what we have achieved this season winning these three championships. As Kalle said at the end of the final stage, we have such a talented group of people. That’s the first thing. Secondly, the people have the passion and the desire to win. Finally and most importantly, everybody is working together. When you have all these ingredients, the results will follow. Seb showed this weekend why he has won so many championships himself: He has this little bit extra that champions

    Rally New Zealand – Round 11 – Rovanperä crowned youngest ever champion with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing

    October 2, 2022
    Kalle Rovanperä has become the youngest ever winner of an FIA World Rally Championship title* at the age of just 22 years and one day, after the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team driver and his co-driver Jonne Halttunen secured their maiden crowns in style with victory at Rally New Zealand. Taking the title in only his third season competing at rallying’s highest level, Rovanperä is more than five years younger than the previous record holder Colin McRae was when he won the championship in 1995. Rovanperä has been the benchmark driver in the first year of the WRC’s new hybrid Rally1 regulations, and his victory in New Zealand is his sixth of the season in the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID. Having led the standings since winning round two in Sweden in February, he has now clinched the title with two rallies remaining. His is the eighth WRC title to be won by a Toyota driver and the fourth in as many years. Rovanperä is the first Finnish driver to win the championship for 20 years and the first to do so driving a car built in Finland. Outstanding speed in difficult weather conditions has been a key attribute to Rovanperä’s driving in 2022 and was also central to his victory in New Zealand, where the smooth gravel roads were hosting the WRC for the first time in a decade. After finishing the longest day of the rally on Friday in mixed conditions in fourth overall, he excelled on a soaking wet Saturday on his 22nd birthday to take over the lead and build an advantage of almost half a minute. Sunday brought further wet weather for the final four stages but Rovanperä managed his lead ahead of the rally-ending Power Stage. Only a top-four time there was needed to secure the two extra bonus points he required for the championship, but he nonetheless recorded the fastest time – the seventh occasion he has topped the Power Stage this season. The outgoing champion Sébastien Ogier completed a one-two finish for the team together with co-driver Benjamin Veillas on their fourth start of the 2022 campaign. Part of a close four-way fight for the lead earlier in the rally, they played an important role for their team-mates by taking points away from their championship rivals. The one-two finish overall, plus the first and third fastest times from the Power Stage, ensures that the team increases its manufacturers’ championship lead to 81 points with 104 left available. Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal) “The emotions are very high right now. For Kalle to have won this championship is really significant. First of all, it’s amazing that a guy who just turned 22 yesterday can achieve something like this, breaking all the records in our sport and winning the World Rally Championship title. Secondly I know that it’s something very important for Finland, because 20 years is a long time for us! I came close myself as did others, so I’m really grateful that Kalle

    ACROPOLIS RALLY – ROUND 10 – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing concludes a rocky Acropolis weekend

    September 12, 2022
    The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has completed a very challenging weekend at the Acropolis Rally Greece without the overall results it desired but with some important points secured to maintain its advantage in the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships. In its second running since returning to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar, the Acropolis lived up to its reputation with slippery and rocky roads and high temperatures providing a considerable challenge. For much of the weekend, the team was in contention for a podium position but those hopes ended early on the final morning when Elfyn Evans had to retire from fourth place after an engine-related issue on the road section to SS14. With this, the team’s focus moved to the rally-ending Power Stage. Here, Kalle Rovanperä managed to set the second-fastest time to claim four bonus points. The championship leader experienced a trying weekend after sweeping the loose gravel roads on Friday before losing around 15 minutes on Saturday morning after damaging his car. However, his Power Stage drive ensures he still leads the drivers’ championship by 53 points with three rounds remaining. Esapekka Lappi was running in second place on Saturday before he was slowed and forced to stop by a technical issue. Restarting on Sunday, he set the fifth-best time on the Power Stage. With the points scored by Rovanperä and Lappi for reaching the finish combined with those they claimed on the Power Stage, the team remains in the lead of the manufacturers’ championship by 63 points. Takamoto Katsuta was the highest-finishing GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID driver, completing his Acropolis Rally debut in sixth overall to maintain his unbroken scoring run in 2022 with TGR WRT Next Generation. Quotes: Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal) “It has been a very difficult weekend for us and our overall results at the finish are not good. There has been a combination of many factors contributing to those results and we have to learn from this weekend about why things went wrong and we must improve for the future. Elfyn’s retirement this morning was a particularly disappointing way to start the final day and we are already investigating what happened. The good thing is that we got Kalle and Esapekka both to the finish with some really helpful points towards the manufacturers’ championship plus five more from the Power Stage, and Kalle especially did a really good drive there to take four points for his own championship. We still have a good lead and now we need to look positively towards Rally New Zealand.” PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, ACROPOLIS RALLY GREECE 1 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) 3h34m52.0s 2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +15.0s 3 Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +1m49.7s 4 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +3m42.2s 5 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +4m09.0s 6 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +6m21.1s 7 Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +7m46.6s 8 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin
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