Success in the snow

Victory for Toyota at Rally Sweden

For the first time since 1999, Toyota has won a round of the World Rally Championship, a feat achieved on only the second event for the all-new Yaris WRC.

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team followed up its impressive second position at the season-opener, Rally Monte-Carlo, to claim a battling victory at an icy Rally Sweden. Sealing the team’s first win of the year was driver Jari-Matti Latvala and co-driver Miika Anttila.

Emotional win

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Jari-Matti Latvala inherited the lead after the rally’s former leader crashed out with broken steering on Saturday’s super special stage. Starting day three with just a 3.8 second advantage and victory in his sights, Latvala showed his hunger to fight, topping the time sheets across all of Sunday’s three stages, extending his advantage over the competition and sealing an emotional win.

In the team’s second car, Juho Hänninen had a trouble-free final day scoring more manufacturer points and taking TOYOTA GAZOO Racing into second place in the manufacturers’ championship, while Latvala heads the drivers’ standing.

For the love of cars

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After the rally, team chairman, Akio Toyoda, said: “It’s a great feeling to win a round of the World Rally Championship after a break of 17 years. I have always been looking forward to this moment, but I never imagined that it would come so soon. A special thanks not just to each and every member of the team, but also to all the fans who have been waiting for our return and shared the joy with us.

So I’d like to share with everyone a discussion I had with Tommi and Jari-Matti before the start of Rally Sweden about communication with cars. Jari-Matti said he tries to communicate with them with love, and drive them with care. Tommi said he can have a good understanding of how to drive them faster because he loves cars. Their words, full of love for cars, touched me because I feel the same. So my wish is for us all to keep on enjoying this feeling and facing the challenges together to make the Yaris an ever-better car.”

Expect the unexpected

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Four-time world rally champion and team principal, Tommi Mäkinen, remarked: “It’s very hard to find the words to describe what I am feeling right now: what we are all feeling. Monte-Carlo was an unexpected result, but this is beyond unexpected. Of course we were lucky to have this win, but it’s also a huge tribute to the talent of Jari-Matti and the united team work that has taken place in Finland, Germany and Japan.

It's an incredible feeling and I just want to thank everybody who has made it possible: especially our chairman Mr Toyoda for his faith in us, Jari-Matti, Miika, Juho, and Kaj. This is a special day that we are all going to remember for a very long time, but at the same time we will keep our feet on the ground now and continue to work as hard as always.”

Winner’s speech

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It was left to the winning driver, Jari-Matti, to sum up the mood of the team after weekend to remember, he said: “I am so, so happy. For a new team and new car to win its second rally: I really have no words. I think I drove my best power stage ever today. Huge thanks to all the team.

Now we are super-motivated to continue like this: I just can’t wait to get to Mexico. It’s fantastic to win but I also feel very sorry for Thierry Neuville, who lost the lead yesterday at the super special stage. I have been in a similar situation myself in the past, so I completely understand how he must be feeling now. We know we were lucky, so we need to carry on improving and working for our goal.”

Next stop, Mexico

 

Round three of the World Rally Championship takes place between March 9-12. The first gravel event of the year, and the first to take place in high temperatures and altitude, means engines will be starved of oxygen and drivers can expect to feel the heat. The result: a new opportunity for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team to push the limits for better!

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