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Toy­ota team prin­ci­pal Tommi Makinen says the Yaris WRC’S de­but podium in Monte Carlo last week has fast-tracked ex­pec­ta­tion and an­tic­i­pa­tion of the car’s first World Rally Cham­pi­onship win.

Jari-matti Lat­vala fin­ished sec­ond over­all on the Gap-based event last week, a re­sult which took the ser­vice park – and Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing it­self – by sur­prise.

The Fin­nish-based team only started run­ning its Yaris WRC nine months ago, but an in­ten­sive pro­gramme and three per­ma­nent test lo­ca­tions en­sured more than 12,000 miles were com­pleted ahead of the car’s first com­pet­i­tive out­ing in the French Alps.

A de­lighted Makinen told MN:: “Af­ter this, I feel pretty Han­ni­nen was in top three con­fi­dent we have the good chance of win­ning this year. This re­sult is in­cred­i­ble. I am so happy for every­body in the team. We have worked well to­gether and, for sure, we will be get­ting stronger af­ter every rally as we have more and more data to an­a­lyse. This has been a mas­sive amount of work and, start­ing from scratch, we have noth­ing to com­pare the car to. We had to do ev­ery­thing from the be­gin­ning.”

Both Yaris WRCS were on the pace, with Lat­vala’s team-mate Juho Han­ni­nen run­ning third be­fore he hit a tree and re­tired with dam­aged sus­pen­sion on Fri­day morn­ing.

Lat­vala told MN: “When you think where I was just over one month ago, be­fore I made the deal with Toy­ota, I was wor­ried I might not be driv­ing in the fac­tory team and now I am here and sec­ond in Monte Carlo – it’s in­cred­i­ble. I did so lit­tle test­ing be­fore this rally, es­pe­cially for these con­di­tions, but I have learned dur­ing the event. We have a good car, a good team and very good po­ten­tial.”

While Makinen is con­fi­dent of a vic­tory at some point this sea­son, he ruled out the pos­si­bil­ity for it on the sec­ond round of the se­ries in Swe­den.

“Maybe that is too soon,” he said. “But that will be very in­ter­est­ing. Jari-matti has tested the car for one week in the snow and he is very happy with the car’s be­hav­iour in these con­di­tions. Juho has not tested yet in the snow, but he will do very soon.”

When it comes to test­ing for Rally Swe­den, Toy­ota has a sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage over its ri­vals. Toy­ota’s per­ma­nent test base is in cen­tral Fin­land, close to its Pu­up­pola head­quar­ters, and the area is cov­ered in snow.

“We have good con­di­tions for Swe­den test­ing,” said Makinen. “Be­cause this is our base, we don’t have to take away these days from our al­lo­ca­tion of test days.” ● The Toy­ota team was given grace to al­ter the po­si­tion of the top mounts on the rear sus­pen­sion aboard the Yaris WRC. These were found to be out­side of the ho­molo­ga­tion re­quire­ments, but the FIA was happy there was no per­for­mance en­hance­ment. Makinen con­firmed the change will be made in time for Swe­den.

Pho­tos: Red Bull Con­tent Pool, mck­lein-im­age­

Makinen now wants wins in ’17

Lat­vala/an­tilla scored Yaris podium

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