Toy­ota Ga­zoo play down loss of Michael Zo­tos

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing is play­ing down last week’s de­par­ture of tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Michael Zo­tos.

Sport­ing di­rec­tor Jarmo Le­hti­nen said he was sorry to see Zo­tos go, but he em­pha­sised that he was part of a wider en­gi­neer­ing group in charge of the devel­op­ment of the Yaris WRC.

“Our phi­los­o­phy has been that we have a core team look­ing af­ter the tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor’s job, not one per­son lead­ing the project,” said Le­hti­nen. “We had to give job ti­tles and Michael took this one, but his leav­ing is not a big drama. Of course, it’s never nice and we’re re­ally happy with what he did, but I have no doubt that ev­ery­thing is still cov­ered.”

Le­hti­nen added that the Yaris’ test pro­gramme re­mained on course de­spite re­ported is­sues with the car’s trans­mis­sion and with the cool­ing of the en­gine bay.

The Yaris is ex­pected to start as­phalt test­ing in the next month.

Teams and driv­ers in the Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship are pre­par­ing for one of the tough­est ral­lies this year as the se­ries vis­its the Nicky Grist Stages this week­end.

The event takes in gravel on Satur­day and as­phalt on Sun­day. The mixed sur­face for­mat hasn’t been used in the Bri­tish se­ries since the late 1980s, when the Welsh In­ter­na­tional used stages in a sim­i­lar area, in­clud­ing Epynt. The 103mile event is sec­ond only to the Cir­cuit of Ire­land in terms of stage mileage.

CA1 Sport team boss Martin Wilkin­son be­lieves the switch from gravel to as­phalt puts the onus back on me­chan­ics and en­gi­neers, who of­ten only get to work on the cars once a day in the cur­rent BRC. They’ll have two and a half hours to change the cars from gravel to as­phalt spec­i­fi­ca­tion be­fore parc ferme on Satur­day evening.

In the 1980s the me­chan­ics would re­pair and work with the cars on the side of the road sev­eral times a day but that is no longer per­mit­ted.

“To plan and pre­pare all the parts and jobs re­quired to swap a mod­ern rally car from gravel to Tar­mac in a cou­ple of hours is not to be un­der­es­ti­mated,” said Wilkin­son, who runs the Sko­das of David Bo­gie and Tom Pre­ston along­side the Ford Fi­es­tas of Alex Laf­fey and Fredrik Ah­lin. “It will be worth watch­ing the teams in ser­vice trans­form their cars in what would take a nor­mal work­shop a day or two.”

Among the changes the R5 teams will make in­clude struts, dampers, springs, brakes and, de­pend­ing on the team, dif­fer­en­tials too.

Tyres are also ex­pected to be a talk­ing point over the event as driv­ers only have eight cov­ers for the 44.70 stage miles on Satur­day and, if the event re­mains dry, the abra­sive na­ture of the roads could force is­sues, es­pe­cially if driv­ers suf­fer mul­ti­ple punc­tures.

El­fyn Evans will line-up as num­ber one seed hav­ing fin­ished sec­ond on Rally Poland last week­end. Af­ter Ah­lin’s bro­ken prop­shaft forced him

STAGE

Cer­e­mo­nial Start: Builth Wells Show­ground SS1 Crychan 1 (5.92 miles) SS2 Half­way 1 (6.05 miles) Re­group: (12 min­utes) SS3 Route 60 1 (4.92 miles) SS4 Mon­u­ment 1 (5.46 miles) Ser­vice: Royal Welsh Show­ground (1 hour) SS5 Crychan 2 (5.92 miles) SS6 Half­way 2 (6.05 miles) Re­group: (9 min­utes) SS7 Route 60 2 (4.92 miles) SS8 Mon­u­ment 2 (5.46 miles) Ser­vice: Royal Welsh Show­ground (2.5 hours) Parc ferme Royal Welsh Show­ground

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