Reliability made the difference in manufacturers’ title quest

Jari-Matti Latvala celebrates on the podium  after Toyota Gazoo Racing won WRC manufacturers title. Image: Red Bull Content Pool

Jari-Matti Latvala celebrates on the podium after Toyota Gazoo Racing won WRC manufacturers title. Image: Red Bull Content Pool

A renewed focus on improving the reliability of Toyota Gazoo Racing’s GR Yaris Rally1 car has proved the difference in the scrap for this season’s WRC manufacturers’ title, according to its team principal.

The Japanese manufacturer secured the trophy with two rounds of the competition remaining on Rally Chile thanks to Elfyn Evans claiming the last spot on the podium at the South American gravel fixture.

The extra points secured by the Welshman coming third, coupled with him recording the second fastest time on the end-of-rally Power Stage, and team-mate Kalle Rovanpera going quickest, sealed the deal.

It was the third consecutive season Toyota has triumphed over Hyundai Motorsport and M-Sport Ford and takes their total in the WRC to seven – one behind Citroen and three behind Lancia which remains the all-time record holder with ten.

Toyota was made to work for glory, however, as a calamitous strategy on Saturday led Evans, Rovanpera and the third works-run car of Takamoto Katsuta to lose chunks of time. Opting for the soft compound Pirelli on roads that were more abrasive than initially thought, tyre preservation became the priority.

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“I am really happy with how this rally ended for us. It wasn’t the easiest one because Saturday was a really demanding day, and on Sunday morning we thought it would be difficult to get on the podium,” said Jari-Matti Latvala.

“But it shows that in rallying you just have to be patient and keep going until the end because it can always bring surprises. I am really proud of the team and crews for all the work we have done during the season.

“Two rounds before the end of the season is the earliest we have ever won the manufacturers’ title as Toyota Gazoo Racing-World Rally Team.

“The competition is hard and the cars are close, but I think we have made the difference with our reliability and bringing the cars home without problems, as we did here.”

On the tyre strategy that backfired on his three crews, Latvala admitted lessons needed to be learned as a similar mistake in future could potentially prove more damaging.

“We have a lot of data on which we base our tyre choices, and this time the calculations about the road conditions here were unfortunately not good enough,” added the Finn. “I think it was a surprise for everybody just how rough the stages were.

“But we have made more than 70 tyre choices so far this year and most of these have been successful: Saturday was a day where it didn’t work out and we need to learn from that so our calculations are correct in the future.”

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