Latvala claims second on Toyota debutposted in WRC22 | 01 | 2017

    TOYOTA GAZOO RACING admitted Jari-Matti Latvala's second place on the opening round of the World Rally Championship in Monte Carlo surpassed all its expectations. (Related: Ogier and M-Sport win Monte Carlo opener)

    Returning to the WRC for the first time since 1999, the Finnish pairing of Latvala and co-driver Miika Anttilla delivered a textbook performance in the No10 Yaris WRC, safely negotiating ice and snow on some of rallying’s most challenging stages.


    Recovering from an unlucky off on the ice on the first day, Juho Hänninen and Kaj Lindström brought the No11 car home in 16th, earning valuable extra points that put Toyota Gazoo Racing in second place in the teams’ championship after the opening round of the 2017 season.

    Latvala lies second in the drivers’ championship behind rally winner and defending world champion Sébastien Ogier of M-Sport. Hänninen also opened his championship account with three points earned for posting third fastest time on Sunday’s power stage.


    “If you had told me before the start of the rally that this is where we would finish, I would never have believed it,” Latvala admitted after completing the final stage on the famous Col de Turini. “In fact, this equals my best-ever result here.

    “The last stages were very difficult, like the whole rally was, and my priority was to look after my tyres. On the final stage there was some more snow, so it was hard to find the grip. It’s been an amazing rally, and fantastic to feel all the support of the fans in particular.


    The Monte Carlo result was also welcomed by four-times world champ and team principal Tommi Mäkinen.

    “I’m very happy,” the Finn beamed. “This result goes a long way beyond our expectations, as this is really only a development year.

    “We didn’t have much experience but our rally was nearly perfect: both crews reacted very well to the changing circumstances and they were able to set stage times in the top three, which is very encouraging. We still have a lot of work ahead but this is a good start.”


    The next round of the FIA World Rally Championship is Rally Sweden from February 9-12.

    Sticking with the winter theme, this rally is held exclusively on snow and ice, with the cars running on special snow tyres with long studs that dig into the ice to provide traction.

    With temperatures that have been known to drop below -20°C, it will be another tough test for the new Toyota Yaris WRC as it continues its development.

    Related; Monte Historique set for Scots launch

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    Jim McGill


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