Toyota looks to continue its winning momentum
- Finland victor Lappi won the WRC2 category last year
- Two second-place finishes for Latvala in Germany
- Teams challenged by heavy braking into tight corners on asphalt
Toyota’s three-car Yaris WRC rally team aims to continue the momentum of its victory in Finland when the World Rally Championship moves to Germany and a wide variety of asphalt surfaces this week.
While Rally Germany is the second tarmac rally in Toyota’s return to the world championship, lead driver Jari-Matti Latvala and Finland winner Esapekka Lappi have proven form and the Yaris WRC has been tested extensively on tarmac.
Latvala is a twice podium finisher in Germany while for Lappi, the WRC2 category winner last year, it is his first asphalt event in a world rally car.
Rally Germany (round ten of 13) challenges crews with a variety of conditions including slippery military roads, narrow switch-backs and fast country lanes.
Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT holds third place on the championship table and has won twice this season, in Sweden and Finland.
Team principal Tommi Mäkinen said the cars would be well-suited to Germany after further development of the Yaris WRC’s suspension since its tarmac debut at round four in Rally Corsica.
“The asphalt development is still going on and there were some new things we tried in our pre-event test, especially with the suspension dampers,” he said.
Latvala said Germany is one of the trickiest rallies of the year. In addition to the suspension, the team’s testing had focused on braking, an area where he looked to gain time.
“Germany has some different characteristics to Corsica, with fewer corners and heavier braking into junctions from high speed,” he said.
Lappi noted he will be outside his comfort zone in a WRC car for the first time on asphalt, but is keen for the challenge.
“Actually, I find that the Yaris WRC is even easier to drive on asphalt, because it feels like a racing car,” he said.
Chief test driver and Finland podium finisher Juho Hänninen pointed to an added challenge in Rally Germany.
“The weather can change a lot in Germany and if it rains there will be a lot of mud in the road,” he said.