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.
“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 these are really important points for himself in the championship. And Takamoto did a really brilliant rally too. He missed out by a couple of seconds but that doesn’t take away from his great drive this weekend.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY DE PORTUGAL
1 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) 3h44m19.2s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +15.2s
3 Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +2m17.3s
4 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +2m19.4s
5 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +2m37.8s
6 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +4m45.7s
7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (Ford Puma Rally1) +5m52.1s
8 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Ford Puma Rally1) +7m03.4s
9 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1) +8m09.6s
10 Yohan Rossel/Valentin Sarreaud (Citroën C3 Rally2) +13m48.9s
51 Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +2m02.53.2s
(Results as of 15:00 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
There’s a short turnaround before another demanding gravel event, Rally Italia Sardegna on June 2-5. The stages are fast but narrow, and exposed rocks as well as trees at the side of the road can catch out the unwary. High temperatures combined with the abrasive surface places high stresses on the cars and tyres.
Press release Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT
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