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    Rally Finland – Round 8 – Rovanperä extends WRC lead with rapid home run for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing

    August 8, 2022
    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team’s Kalle Rovanperä has further extended his FIA World Rally Championship lead with a well-calculated drive to second place on a ferociously fast Rally Finland, as team-mate and fellow Finn Esapekka Lappi survived remarkable late drama to join him on the podium at their home rally. Tasked with sweeping the gravel roads around their hometown of Jyväskylä, Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen ended Friday 21 seconds from the lead and fourth overall on a rally known for high speeds and narrow margins. Willed on by the local support in the spiritual home of rallying, Rovanperä was then rapid through the longest day of the rally on Saturday and fastest in six out of eight stages to climb to second overall and slash the gap to the leader to 8.4s. He thus went into the final day still eyeing a famous home win, but was not in a position to risk everything while on course to strengthen his grip on the championship and ultimately had to settle for second place, only 6.8s behind Ott Tänak. He did however take the maximum five bonus points for the fastest time in the rally-ending Power Stage, which increases his advantage to 94 points with five rallies remaining. The first Rally Finland for the new generation of hybrid Rally1 cars was the fourth-fastest WRC round of all time, and the incredibly close lead fight required drivers to have good confidence in their cars despite limited testing on such roads. The GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID recorded the quickest time in 15 of the 22 stages. Lappi led the Toyota charge through Friday and much of Saturday, before a freak incident with a rock that deflected up and damaged his windscreen, hampering visibility. He was to encounter further drama in the penultimate stage of the rally, which was heavily rutted. One such rut on the exit of a corner caused him to roll over three times. He was able to complete the stage while losing only 20 seconds and remaining third overall, but he and co-driver Janne Ferm had to carry out roadside repairs including removing the car’s windscreen and topping up a radiator. Incredibly, despite the obvious damage, they lost only 10 further seconds in the final stage to hold onto third by a relatively comfortable 16.9s and score their second podium of the season. Like his team-mates, Elfyn Evans was also part of the thrilling lead battle for much of the weekend before having to make repairs of his own after damaging his suspension on Saturday afternoon. He and co-driver Scott Martin still finished fourth overall and took third in the Power Stage: Points that ensure TGR increased its manufacturers’ championship lead by one point to 88. Takamoto Katsuta and co-driver Aaron Johnston ensured there were four GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRIDs inside the top six for almost the entire rally. By finishing sixth they continue their unbroken 2022 scoring run for TGR WRT Next Generation after Katsuta’s strongest performance yet

    Rally Estonia – Round 7 – Rovanperä reigns again in TOYOTA GAZOO Racing one-two

    July 17, 2022
    Kalle Rovanperä has continued his remarkable 2022 season in the FIA World Rally Championship with his fifth victory from the last six events, leading a one-two finish at Rally Estonia for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team after a high-speed battle with team-mate Elfyn Evans. After a series of rougher gravel events, the smooth and fast stages of Estonia provided a test for the outright performance of the new generation of Rally1 cars, one the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID passed with flying colours by dominating the weekend. It recorded the fastest time in all 22 full-length stages, beaten only narrowly in the two short super special stages held on Thursday and Saturday evenings. The weather ensured a challenging weekend from start to finish with short and sharp rain showers making conditions extremely changeable and unpredictable for the drivers. Evans excelled in a mostly dry start to Friday, winning all four stages during the morning to lead Rovanperä, who did well sweeping the loose gravel stages as championship leader and then capitalised on wet weather in the afternoon to move ahead. He and co-driver Jonne Halttunen were then dominant through Saturday, winning seven stages in a row and continued that form into Sunday morning. The worst of the weather however was saved for the final two stages. Both Rovanperä and Evans were more than half a minute slower than some competitors as conditions worsened during SS23 but were able to maintain their overall positions. They then made the most of improving conditions as the sun came out for their runs at the deciding Power Stage, Rovanperä setting the best time by a huge 22.5 seconds over Evans to claim maximum points for himself and co-driver Jonne Halttunen, who increase their championship lead to 83 points after seven of 13 rounds. Evans and his co-driver Scott Martin have climbed to third in the standings after a second straight second-place finish and their third of the season. With the Power Stage result, TGR also scored maximum points towards the manufacturers’ championship this weekend and now lead by 87 points. Fighting back after losing time when a tyre came off its rim on a landing on Saturday, Esapekka Lappi won two stages on Sunday and gained sixth place overall on the final stage, where he set the fourth-fastest time despite experiencing considerably worse conditions than his team-mates. Takamoto Katsuta continued his unbroken scoring record so far in 2022 in his TGR WRT Next Generation entry by finishing fifth overall, improving his confidence and performance over the event despite the difficult conditions. Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal) “Kalle keeps on surprising us every time with what he is able to do. The conditions were extremely difficult in the Power Stage especially, but the more difficult the conditions, the stronger Kalle seems to be. But we also need to remember the whole team effort that has gone into this result: To win so many stages this weekend proves that the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID is fast

    Safari Rally Kenya – Round 6 – GR YARIS Rally1 wins African epic with incredible 1-2-3-4 finish

    June 26, 2022
    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has claimed a historic result at the legendary Safari Rally Kenya with Kalle Rovanperä leading a remarkable clean sweep of the top four positions for the GR YARIS Rally1 car. Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta joined him on the podium with Sébastien Ogier in fourth. It is also a landmark 10th victory for Toyota on the famous African event, and the first time it has achieved a 1-2-3-4 finish in the WRC since the very same rally in 1993. Only once has any other manufacturer achieved the same feat in the championship in nearly three decades since. In its second running since returning to the WRC calendar last year, the Safari delivered even tougher conditions, including deep ‘fesh-fesh’ sand on Friday and wet and muddy surfaces on Saturday in addition to the ever-present rocks and stones. It was by far the hardest challenge yet for the new generation of hybrid-powered Rally1 cars, but the GR YARIS survived everything that the Kenyan terrain could throw at it to remain reliable and dominate the weekend without any major issues. The next best-placed car finished eight-and-a-half minutes adrift of the Toyota quartet. Rovanperä had an early scare when he ran wide on the very first corner on Thursday’s opening super special in Nairobi and knocked a tyre off its rim. But he and co-driver Jonne Halttunen ran faultlessly thereafter on the way to their fourth victory in six rounds, increasing their championship lead to 65 points. Evans and his co-driver Scott Martin also performed superbly and ran their team-mates close for the victory, remaining within 20 seconds of the lead until the rain hit on Saturday afternoon. They finished up 52.8s away as they scored their second podium of the season. TGR WRC Challenge Program driver Katsuta once more drove an excellent and smart rally in the demanding conditions of Kenya to claim his second career podium, one year on from taking his first at the very same event. It’s also a maiden podium for his co-driver Aaron Johnston, the pair entered under the TGR World Rally Team Next Generation banner. Ogier, the 2021 event winner, led for most of Friday in the defence of his crown until he had to stop and change a tyre on the day’s final stage, losing over two minutes. He and co-driver Benjamin Veillas fought back to fourth overall and, with their team-mates focused on reaching their finish, set the third-fastest time in the rally-ending Power Stage to add to the team’s points haul from the weekend. Its manufacturers’ championship lead has increased to 62 points.   Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal) “To achieve a 1-2-3-4 here at the Safari Rally is an exceptional result. It’s nearly 30 years since Toyota managed the same feat here in Kenya with the Celica and I can only thank our team and our drivers for the superb job they have done. When we were developing the GR YARIS Rally1 we focused above all on making a really strong

    Rally Italia Sardegna – Round 5 – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing with positives to take from Sardinia

    June 5, 2022
    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team driver Kalle Rovanperä has extended his FIA World Rally Championship lead after completing a clever drive to finish fifth overall in a very demanding Rally Italia Sardegna. Ambient temperatures in excess of 35 degrees centigrade combined with rough and rocky roads to make the island event the toughest challenge yet for the new generation of hybrid Rally1 cars introduced this season. The GR YARIS Rally1 generally ran reliably and fast in the demanding conditions but a couple of small incidents prevented the car from continuing its winning streak for a fourth consecutive rally. Both Elfyn Evans and Esapekka Lappi showed speed and confidence to win stages and take turns in the overall lead, only for significant impacts with the harsh terrain to cause damage that sadly took them out of contention for a top result. As well as gaining valuable lessons for the continued development of the GR YARIS Rally1, the team leaves on a positive note thanks to Rovanperä’s fifth place. Running first on the road and sweeping the loose gravel roads as series leader hampered Rovanperä more than on the previous round in Portugal, but the young Finn maintained his trademark cool and delivered another mature performance to stay out of trouble and pick up places as others hit problems. As well as finishing fifth overall he also set the second-fastest time in the rally-ending Power Stage, earning four bonus points to increase his championship lead from 46 to 55 points. Running under restart rules, Evans and Lappi were just behind Rovanperä in the Power Stage results in third and fourth, with Takamoto Katsuta making it four GR YARIS Rally1 cars in the top five in his TGR WRT Next Generation entry. Those results ensure TGR still leads the manufacturers’ championship by 39 points. Katsuta finished one place behind Rovanperä in the overall standings in sixth: his fifth top-eight finish from as many events in the Rally1 car. PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY ITALIA SARDEGNA 1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) 3h10m59.1s 2 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Ford Puma Rally1) +1m03.2s 3 Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +1m33.0s 4 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (Ford Puma Rally1) +2m09.4s 5 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +3m02.8s 6 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +4m02.6s 7 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (Ford Puma Rally1) +5m23.6s 8 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Alexandrov (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +7m37.7s 9 Jan Solans/Rodrigo Sanjuan (Citroën C3 Rally2) +8m05.7s 10 Jari Huttunen/Mikko Lukka (Ford Fiesta Rally2) +8m10.8s 40 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +1h01m22.6s 44 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +1h19m45.0s (Results as of 15:00 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com) What’s next? The legendary Safari Rally Kenya (June 23-26) returned to the WRC calendar in 2021 after almost 20 years. Even in its modern guise, the only African round of the championship provides gruelling conditions on rough and rocky roads as well as high speeds across open plains.

    Rally de Portugal – Round 4 – Rovanperä and Evans seal one-two finish for the GR YARIS Rally1

    May 22, 2022
    The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is celebrating a fantastic one-two finish for the GR YARIS Rally1 car on its gravel debut at the Rally de Portugal, with Kalle Rovanperä scoring his third win in a row just ahead of team-mate Elfyn Evans. In the first test of the new generation of hybrid-powered cars, the GR YARIS Rally1 was the car to beat, winning 15 of the 19 gravel stages across the weekend. Evans led the way from early on Friday morning with consistently strong stage times, and Rovanperä joined him in the top two at the end of the first full day after doing a fantastic job opening gravel roads as championship leader for the first time in his career. The pair were in a league of their own through the longest day of the event on Saturday, and the lead moved into Rovanperä’s hands in difficult mixed weather conditions during the afternoon. Rovanperä led Evans by 5.7 seconds coming into the final day of five stages and won the morning’s opening test, only for Evans to respond in the first pass over the rally’s famous Fafe stage. But Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen went on to win the penultimate stage as well as the rally-ending Power Stage, ensuring another maximum points haul to increase their championship lead to 46 points after wins in three of the first four events. Evans and co-driver Scott Martin finished 15.2s away from the victory as they returned to the podium for the first time this season, having driven consistently well through the difficult conditions all weekend and won six stages along the way. TGR WRC Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta narrowly missed out on the second podium of his top-level career after a brilliant drive. He started the day in third place and defended it excellently against the experienced Dani Sordo until a final-stage push put his rival ahead by just 2.1s. Fourth is still a fine result that scores Katsuta and co-driver Aaron Johnston more important points in their TGR WRT Next Generation entry and moves them up to third in the championship. After being forced to retire from Friday and Saturday’s legs, Sébastien Ogier restarted on the final day to gain further experience with the GR YARIS Rally1 on his second appearance of the season.  Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal) “This is a fantastic result for us in the first gravel rally with the GR YARIS Rally1. I am so happy and proud of the team because they have built such a fast and reliable car which has allowed our drivers to perform the way that they have this weekend. Kalle won it completely against our expectations at the start of the event. It’s incredible how quickly he has grown and how he is able to deal with the pressure when he’s leading. Elfyn also did a really good rally, it was another one of those great and clean drives from him. He was so close to the victory, but
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