Toyota Make Statement on Monte Carlo Shakedown
Image: Toyota Gazoo Racing
Eighteen years after the Corolla World Rally Car bowed out in style with the WRC Manufacturers Cup, the Toyota badge made its return to timed competition yesterday during the Monte Carlo Rally Shakedown.
The brand new Yaris WRC made its presence known by posting the fourth fastest time on the small but tricky 3.35-kilometre stage courtesy of Jari-Matti Latvala.
The Finnish veteran clocked 2:25.2 on the warm-up stage prior to the first competitive stage which gets underway this evening. Latvala was 7 seconds off the pace of reigning world champion and former Volkswagen tesm mate Sébastien Ogier. Toyota’s other driver Juho Hanninen set a reasonable time of 2:26.6 putting him seventh, 1.4 seconds off team mate Latvala
According to a press release from Toyota Gazoo Racing, Latvala kept quite reserved about the result in expectancy of what was to come over the next four days of rallying. ”I was happy with how our shakedown went but I know it will be a tough rally ahead,” said Latvala. “It’s a very nice feeling to finally get the season underway now after so much hard work and anticipation.”
Juho Hanninen is more cheery about the prospect of the new-era of World Rally Cars which includes increased power output and reduced vehicle weight. “I felt a bit like I was driving on my very first rally,” said Hanninen. “This really feels like an exciting new beginning for me.” This is Hanninen’s first full-time drive in the WRC having last competed sporadically for Hyundai during the 2014 campaign.
Special Stage 1 begins just after 8PM local time, 7PM GMT. It is 21.25 kilometres in length and beings outside the town of Entreveaux, making its way around Val de Chavagne and finishes after Ubraye. Stage 2 is the Bayons – Bréziers stage 25.49 kilometres long and more twisty than stage 1. It begins three minutes before 11PM local time and will wrap up proceedings for today.
Tomorrow has six stages, most of which will occur in sunlight much to the relief of the drivers and crew. Live coverage can be found on BT Sport 2 tonight from 7PM or you can stream coverage online via plus.wrc.com