UPS TOYOTA EXPECTATIONS AFTER MONTE PODIUM
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.
Makinen now wants wins in ’17
Latvala/antilla scored Yaris podium