A historic day for the Toyota Yaris WRC, which had its very first outing against the clock at shakedown for Rallye Monte-Carlo. However, the short 3.35-kilometre stage is just a final systems check before the real action starts tomorrow, with all the drivers looking after their cars to keep them in perfect condition for the rally.
The shakedown test this afternoon, 10 kilometres from the service park in Gap, was quite representative of the rest of the rally, with icy and snowy conditions. Because of this, the Toyota drivers chose not to use their studded tyres, in order to have a full allocation for the competitive stages. Caution was the watchword, with both drivers completing their runs carefully and completing the scheduled programme of final checks.
Tom Fowler (Chief Engineer)
“The shakedown was basically just a systems check and as a result of that we’ve done some fine-tuning in the cockpit, so to be doing only that sort of detail work is definitely a positive sign. Both the drivers are happy with the car and we’ve not had to make any major changes. The final run was done in the dark, so this was a good opportunity for the drivers to set their lights for tomorrow’s stages.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“I was happy with how our shakedown went but I know it will be a tough rally ahead: I don’t think I have ever seen so much snow and ice on a Monte-Carlo recce before. It’s a very nice feeling to finally get the season underway now after so much hard work and anticipation. For the final runs of shakedown, we were driving in conditions where it was getting dark, which hopefully can help to prepare us for the two night stages tomorrow, where I think it will be very slippery.”
This was the debut for a new set of regulations on the World Rally Championship, exactly 20 years after the original World Rally Car rules were introduced. The shakedown times are rarely indicative of true pace, however Toyota was able to set times inside the top five.
The action starts for real tomorrow, when the first cars leave the famous Place du Casino in Monaco just after 18:00. They face a 286-kilometre journey back to service in Gap, and on the way they will take in two demanding special stages of more than 20 kilometres each: Entrevaux-Val de Chalvagne-Ubray at 20:14 and Bayons-Breziers 1 at 22:57. Particularly at this time of night, ice and black ice is expected, and it will be a late finish for the team with the cars arriving in service after midnight.