TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is celebrating its first win of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship season after Ott Tänak clinched a dominant victory on round two, Rally Sweden.
It is the second win in three years for the Toyota Yaris WRC on the event, the scene of its maiden triumph in 2017. Tänak also won the rally-ending Power Stage to claim maximum points.
The drivers faced difficult conditions throughout the weekend as warm temperatures caused the ice and snow to melt. Tänak ended Friday within two seconds of the rally lead and then capitalised on his better road position on Saturday to open up an advantage of nearly a minute over the competition. On Sunday, he took care through the opening two stages and was then fastest on the Power Stage by 3.5 seconds to claim the five available bonus points. Co-driven by Martin Järveoja, Tänak now leads the drivers’ championship standings for the first time in his career.
Kris Meeke clinched sixth position overall in his second rally with the team after increasing his margin over his closest rival during the final day. His points have helped the team to claim a one-point lead in the manufacturers’ championship. Jari-Matti Latvala, competing under restart rules following his off on Friday, claimed a stage win in the day’s opening test. Marcus Grönholm also completed his comeback rally in a privately-entered Yaris WRC.
Reacting, Akio Toyoda, Team Chairman described the victory as something beyond his imagination.
He said: “Reviewing this year’s rally comparing to the joyful one two years ago and a very tough one last year, I can see how the team has grown. I thank Tommi for continuing to lead the team. I saw Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm with unfamiliar drivers’ suits on the podium. Of course, I felt sorry that Jari-Matti, Miikka, Kris and Seb missed the podium.
“But at the same time, I felt a bit glad that they were there. It is not only because I see their smiles, but also because I felt that we were facing strong rivals. I believe Tommi and all the team members strongly feel as I do that all the drivers and co-drivers are on the podium. And this gives big power to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing to move forward. The season has just started. In the rest of the season, over 12 rounds, we will have tight battles with our strong rivals. This will make WRC more exciting and will help us make ever-better cars. Thank you in advance for your continuous support.”
“We achieved our first
Ott Tänak, Driver of car 8 said: “We have had a very good weekend. Friday was a key moment where we had to get through to minimize the time loss in the conditions, but after this we just drove with a good rhythm and as little risk as possible. Today it was about saving the tyres for the Power Stage and to give it a big push. We had a very good run and everything was working really well, so I was really comfortable in the car. We have a very strong team and it’s great for us to have this kind of result at the beginning of the season.”
Rally Mexico (March 7-10) provides a major contrast from Sweden for the teams and drivers, with rough gravel roads and temperatures in the region of 30°C. High altitude is also a major factor, with a route that peaks at 2,737m above sea level, starving engines of air and cutting power by as much as 20 per cent.