Team prin­ci­pal, Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing WRC Team

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

There was a lot of spec­u­la­tion that your car would strug­gle first time out, how do you feel now? “I am happy. We all put in so much work, a mas­sive amount of work. It’s been an in­cred­i­ble year and a half – we had lit­er­ally noth­ing a year and a half ago.”

Are you sur­prised at the speed of the car? “There was a big ques­tion mark and yes, I was a lit­tle bit sur­prised. It was very nice to see the speed was there. But I had driven the car a lot my­self and I knew we were close, I was con­fi­dent we had made a good car and I could see this from the re­ac­tion from Juho [Han­ni­nen].” Did you give the driv­ers any in­struc­tions? “No. I told them they could drive the rally as they wanted. It was their rally.”

You’ve won this event four times, you could of­fer them some ad­vice? “I told them they would not fin­ish if they went flat-out from the start. For sure, if you drive at this speed then you will not get all the way through a Monte Carlo with as much snow and ice as this. I def­i­nitely had this con­ver­sa­tion with Jari-matti!”

How did be­ing a team prin­ci­pal com­pare to driv­ing your­self? “The nerves were nearly the same, but it’s very dif­fi­cult as a driver. You go from the ser­vice park where you have every­body around you and then you go out and you are alone with the co-driver.” Do you think your ap­proach to the test pro­gramme helped with this re­sult? “Def­i­nitely. We had three test pro­grammes run­ning all of the time. We had a car in the forests [in Fin­land] every other day and we had a base in Vic [Spain] and in Por­tu­gal. In­stead of mov­ing the ve­hi­cles about, we moved the peo­ple, fly­ing peo­ple in and out to make sure we kept on test­ing. When we needed parts, we used DHL and flew them in for the next day. If we had tried to move the ve­hi­cles about, we wouldn’t have man­aged to do half the num­ber of kilo­me­tres we did.”

Toy­ota Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion pres­i­dent Akio Toy­oda is a big fan of the pro­gramme, what’s his re­ac­tion been like? “He is very pleased. He couldn’t make it here, he is so busy, but it’s in­cred­i­ble, from Ja­pan he has been fol­low­ing our progress on Face­book and shar­ing the pho­to­graphs and ev­ery­thing.”

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