Strong performance of Toyota Yaris WRC goes unrewarded in Australia
"One of the most complex rallies we faced all year"
At the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Australia, Toyota Yaris WRC driver Esapekka Lappi has finished sixth. His team mate Jari-Matti Latvala was second right until the final Power Stage, when he went off. Nonetheless, he concludes the 2017 drivers’ championship in fourth position, after only the first full year for Toyota since returning to series for the first time in 18 years, while TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is third in the manufacturers’ championship on its debut.
The final short day on Rally Australia concluded with just five stages, but heavy rain made it extremely tricky and slippery, after a rally that had been characterised by inconsistent conditions from the start. The weather even led to the penultimate stage being cancelled for safety reasons. The final test was the Power Stage, in which Lappi placed third after a strong run, ending a great season for the Yaris WRC.
Akio Toyoda (Team Chairman)
“We had some great moments this year when we won in Sweden and Finland. But what actually made me even happier were the rallies that didn’t go so well for us, but allowed us to learn a lot and realise that we still had a long way to go. In Australia Jari-Matti stopped on the last stage and that is one example that tells us we still have things to improve – but we are always grateful for these opportunities to keep on learning. Our lessons from WRC are not only reflected in the efforts of our team, but are also fed back to those in charge of developing our road cars. To fans and media, thank you very much for this year and I look forward to your continued support. From my own experience of being out on the stages earlier this season, I know that it’s the fans who keep motorsport going. Next year, we will be joined by a new crew and we will aim for an even higher position.”
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“I don’t think anyone could have predicted how this rally would finish, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted all the results we took this season either, so a huge thank you to everyone who made it possible: drivers, co-drivers and team, in Japan, Germany and Finland. Australia was one of the most complex rallies we faced all year, with some big challenges: we had some things to fix on Friday, then Esapekka was first on the road on Saturday and Sunday, and finally we had the accident for Jari-Matti right at the end of the rally. This disappointment shouldn’t take away anything from what we have achieved this year: it’s been a great performance overall. That doesn’t mean we can relax: already we are working hard towards next year.”
“Obviously this is not the way that I wanted to end the year but this is rallying and you have to take the most and learn from every experience, even if it doesn’t feel like a positive one at the time. We were pushing hard on the Power Stage to try and maximise our chances of doing something special and when you are pushing hard these things can happen. Up until then it had been a good rally for us and we managed to get very close to the front, especially after the first stage this morning. I’d like to apologise for my mistake today after a huge effort from everyone here, and most of all say a big ‘thank you’ to the whole team for delivering a year that went beyond all my expectations.”
“It was a tough day: a lot of standing water as the rain suddenly came on the stage before the Power Stage. There were a few surprises for us, as we were first on the road again. I wasn’t controlling the car – it was just like a boat – but we’re still here! Yesterday we were first on the road and we were struggling with tyre choice: today the roads were cleaning less so it was a bit easier. The tyre choice was actually good today as we kept some new tyres back, so we had a good feeling. The main thing is that we gained plenty of experience on this event, to try to understand the best way to drive here. Looking at the season as a whole I’m happy with our speed, but I know I’ve got plenty to learn to iron out the ups and downs we had. I’m already looking forward to next year.”
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