For the first time, three examples of the Toyota Yaris WRC have taken the start of a World Championship rally, with Esapekka Lappi joining regular drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hänninen for Rally Portugal. Following this morning’s shakedown, the competitive action got underway with a 3.36-kilometre super special in Lousada.
Latvala was the lead Toyota at the end of the super special in seventh place overall, heading Hänninen in ninth and Lappi in 13th. The super special was run on a rallycross track, with a mixed asphalt and gravel surface, in front of around 35,000 spectators. The shakedown stage earlier passed without incident, with the team finalising the rally set-up.
Tom Fowler (Chief Engineer)
“There are some similarities with Rally Argentina, so we’re using a similar set-up to what we had there, with the addition of certain developments and improvements that we’ve made since then. All three cars are running a broadly similar set-up, including Esapekka obviously. For this event, the priority is to give him as much running as possible, so we’re not doing anything very different with his car. But in the future, we’ll have the possibility of trying out some new things to use on the other cars. This is very big asset to help us get better in our learning year. We did quite a lot of work on the suspension in our pre-event test and we felt that we made a step forward, so hopefully that will be reflected in our times this weekend.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“I enjoyed the stage and there was a great atmosphere; we just had a little bit of understeer, which we will think about tonight. In the end, the super special is very different from the rest of the rally though, so there is no point in taking too many conclusions from this stage on its own. I’m very happy with what we achieved on the pre-event test so by the end of tomorrow we should have a much better idea about our prospects.”
Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“No problems at all on the super special, but this isn’t where the rally is going to be decided. I’ve got a good feeling with the car so, with the right approach, I think we can get the result we want here. The experience we gained in Argentina was especially useful and I am looking forward to putting what we learned there into practice here.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 12)
“The Lousada stage was a great place to have my first time in my new car: so many fans! I don’t feel nervous: just excited. I’ve been preparing for this for six months so I’m ready. But we need to build up the speed over the weekend. I think the second passage over the stages will be especially tricky, so we will approach everything step by step.”
End of SS1:
1 Mads Ostberg/Ola Floene (Ford Fiesta R5) 2m36.6s
2 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.0s
3 Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.1s
4 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0.4s
5 Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.5s
6 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0.7s
7 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.5s
8 Stephane Lefebvre/Gaban Moreau (Citroen C3 WRC) +1.5s
9 Juho Hänninen/Kaj Lindström (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.8s
10 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC): +2.0s
13 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.6s
(Results as of 21:45 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team Sporting Director Jarmo Lehtinen recently returned to competition alongside his former driver Mikko Hirvonen, with whom he took 15 WRC wins as a co-driver. The duo was aboard a classic Ford Escort RS at the TerraWise Rally in their native Finland: an all-gravel event that they won by a minute, despite not having driven together for a couple of years. But they weren’t taking it too seriously: for both of them the objective was just to have a lot of fun. And now, it’s back to work for Jarmo!
There are eight stages on the menu tomorrow. These are split into two loops of three stages, with service at Porto in between, plus two final runs over the 1.90-kilometre Braga street stage. The first driver will leave service in the morning at 08:59 and return just under 12 hours later, completing a total of 148.32 competitive kilometres.
PICTURES WILL BE UPLOADED HERE DURING THE EVENT
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