Toyota win signals a hard ght in 2017
Latvala returned the Japanese to the winner’s circle, but there is much work ahead
It happened sooner than anyone would have thought, but Toyota’s return to the top of the World Rally Championship with victory in Sweden was remarkable, and bodes very well for the rest of the season.
Sebastien Ogier showed on the season-opening Monte that he is still the class of the field in terms of driving talent. As much as that was a shining beacon of a result, Sweden showed that he is going to have to work harder than he has ever done before to maintain his position as the man to beat in the service park.
Then there is Hyundai, too, or more specifically Thierry Neuville. He drew criticism from team boss Michel Nandan for shunting out of a leading position for the second event in a row, but his pace before that had left several people shaking their heads.
I have often said that if a team is dominating, it should be applauded for the good job it is doing rather than panned by fans for making the sport boring. VW was the ultimate team for the last four seasons, but the Germans’ virtual lock-out of the top step left the wider world bereft.
Now, with the Polo Rs gone, it is there for the rest to inherit the mantle. It looks for the moment that it will be a real dogfight as to who the next shining star of the WRC will be in terms of manufacturers. You can tweak the format any way you want, all the fans want is a good, open competition. This year, it seems, they will be getting one. Matt James, Editor (Twitter: @Mattjmnews)