The GAZOO Racing (GR) World Rally Team has finished first and second on a challenging Rally Turkey, with drivers Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala racing to victory. It is the first such result for the team since its return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at the start of 2017, which moves the squad to the top of the manufacturers' standings. The win is also the third in a row for Tänak and the Toyota Yaris WRC, the first time any driver or team has achieved such a streak since the current era of World Rally Cars was introduced last season.
Appearing on the WRC calendar for the first time since 2010, Rally Turkey provided a considerable test to all the teams and crews, with entirely new stages over rough and rocky gravel roads that were extremely demanding for the cars and their tires. In a rally of attrition, where only five World Rally Cars completed the event without having to retire from at least one of the three legs, the approach of the Toyota team and its drivers to focus on reliability and avoiding mistakes paid dividends.
At the end of the second day, Tänak and Latvala occupied the fifth and fourth positions respectively. Through measured driving, they took over at the top of the leaderboard early on the afternoon of third day as their rivals hit problems. The two drivers continued to avoid issues throughout the remaining stages, with Tänak winning by 22.3 seconds over Latvala, who finished almost one and a half minutes ahead of the third-placed crew. This impressive display of driving enabled Toyota to claim a maximum haul of 43 points towards the manufacturers' championship, which it now leads by five points with just three rounds remaining. Tänak, who also took three bonus points for third place on the rally-ending Power Stage, has climbed to second in the drivers' standings, and is just 13 points from the lead. Meanwhile, Latvala, who finished fourth on the Power Stage, moved up to fifth place behind Lappi.
Commenting on the victory, Akio Toyoda, Team President, said: "Following Finland and Germany, we, GAZOO Racing (GR), have achieved excellent results for the third consecutive rally. I really appreciate the fans who are supporting us from all over the world. Rally Turkey was very tough, beyond our imaginations, for all the components of the car including the chassis, engine and tires, because of its severe roads with big rocks and high temperatures. To have run through such roads and reached the finish with these great results, I appreciate the drivers, the co-drivers and all the team members. Thank you all and congratulations! During the rally, the Yaris WRCs did not run perfectly all the time. There were minor issues for every car and each crew had to drive carefully.
Driving carefully back to the service park, improving the car together with engineers and mechanics during service, and going back to the stages – this is how we reached the podium. When he finished the third day in second overall, Latvala said that he would drive for the team and his team-mate on the fourth day. I am really glad to see the result of such teamwork. And I am proud of not only the winning crew, Tänak and Järveoja, but also all my team-mates who gave their full efforts to make this happen. In this team, Toyota Motor Corporation works to make cars which drivers can drive more easily. Together with our amazing team-mates, we will continue making ‘ever-better’ cars in order to share more joy in the future. Thank you to all the fans in advance for your continuous support of the team."
Over the years, Toyota has been participating in many different forms of motorsports, including Formula One, the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race. Toyota’s participation in these events was overseen by separate entities within the company until April 2015, when Toyota established GAZOO Racing (GR), to consolidate all of its motorsports activities under one in-house brand. Representing Toyota’s belief that ‘the roads build the people, and the people build the cars,’ GAZOO Racing (GR) highlights the role of motorsports as a fundamental pillar of Toyota’s commitment to making ‘ever-better’ cars. Harnessing years of experience gained under the extreme conditions of various motorsports events, GAZOO Racing (GR) aims to forge new technologies and solutions that bring the freedom, adventure, and joy of driving to everyone.
The team will be looking to continue their winning streak in Round 11 of the season at Rally GB in United Kingdom on 4-7 October. In dry conditions, these stages can be driven at fairly high speeds, however, the pace is usually tempered by mud during the Welsh autumn, which can make the surfaces treacherously slippery. Fog and even ice can also add to the challenge, particularly early in the morning or late in the evening.
No. 8 Toyota Yaris WRC (Ott Tänak & Martin Järveoja)
No. 7 Toyota Yaris WRC (Jari-Matti Latvala & Miikka Anttila)