Rally News

Toyota confident it will be competitive on rough gravel in Mexico WRC

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

The reigning world champion squad has been working to solve its pace deficit on rough gravel which was highlighted in Sardinia and Greece last yearm, the only events a Toyota failed to score a podium in 2022.

Toyota team boss Jari-Matti Latvala says its problems stemmed from the GR Yaris’ suspension, but after a successful pre-event in test in Spain earlier this month, the Finn believe progress has been made in this department.

Mexico’s return to the WRC calendar this weekend will provide an opportunity to test the theory as the championship tackles its first gravel event of the season. 

“We know this surface was not favourable for us last year, but I’m confident this year we should be competitive,” said Latvala.

“For sure, we have been focussing a lot on the suspension side of the car, this is where we were losing time. 

“Last year we were missing the traction coming out of the corners. Drivers were complaining about the understeer from the car and these were the areas we were working on in the test. 

“I know the engineers have done a lot of work for this event and in the test. We tried to get the maximum out of it across the three days of testing.  

“I’m really happy [with the team’s preparations]. They have done a very good job with the test with the cars and with the drivers. 

“The drivers are happy with the improvements that we have done. Of course, it is always a question as to how well we have done the preparation when the rally really starts, but so far what has been done I‘m pleased with.”

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Toyota Racing

While Latvala believes the GR Yaris is stronger on rough gravel, road position will be crucial for success on the dusty gravel, high altitude Mexican stages. 

World champion Kalle Rovanpera faced the disadvantage of starting second on the road behind championship leader M-Sport’s Ott Tanak. Elfyn Evans is fourth on the road ahead of the returning six-time WRC Mexico winner Sebastien Ogier, while Takamoto Kastuta will start seventh. 

Latvala believes it will be difficult for Tanak and Rovanpera to challenge for victory as a result of the effects of road cleaning.      

“I must say starting as the first car on the road it is almost impossible to win here. I would say the first two cars it is very difficult,” he added.

“If your road position is from four onwards you can fight for the win but…

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