Toyota Gazoo play down loss of Michael Zotos
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
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