TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is ready to take on Rally de España after successfully completing the shakedown stage close to Salou. The 2.97-kilometre test featured both gravel and asphalt in preparation for what is the only mixed-surface event of the season, beginning after tonight’s ceremonial start in the centre of Salou. The Toyota drivers took the shakedown with the Yaris WRC in gravel specification ready for Friday’s stages.
Tom Fowler (Chief Engineer)
“The main purpose of shakedown was as a systems check because the stage was nothing like the rally itself, and there was nothing we could learn from a set-up point of view. So it was about systems checking and a little bit of engine performance analysis, which all went well. The cars were running in gravel set-up ready for the start of the rally and the surface was mixed on the shakedown, so it was a very tricky stage for the drivers to get any useful information: it can be very misleading so we haven’t made any changes other than to some engine calibration which is normal in shakedown.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“In reality, the shakedown was a bit different from how the rally will be. We had a little bit of understeer but I’m not worried about that for the rally. The driver was a bit rusty but I think that has gone away now, so we are back in the game! It would be really nice to be back on the podium here, but of course I really want to win this event as I have been on the podium five times but never won. But let’s go one step at a time for now. Tomorrow on gravel the most challenging thing is the long Terra Alta stage where you have an asphalt section in the middle, which is very hard for the tyres.”
Juho Hänninen (Driver car 11)
“The car felt good in shakedown. The stage itself was not so useful for setting up the car for the rally but the car felt good: there’s no need to do anything to it. Tomorrow will probably be quite tricky as there will be a lot of loose gravel, but our starting position will help a lot to give us a cleaner line. For sure I need to push a lot tomorrow to be in the fight for the rest of the rally.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 12)
“It feels good to be in the car after quite a long break. The shakedown was nothing special in my opinion, as it is not so representative of the rally, so the balance and the set-up was not the best over there, but we know it’s like this and it should be good for the rally. For sure we want to have a clean run, stay out of trouble and hopefully finish on the podium.”
Rally Spain is the only round of the WRC to take place truly over two different surfaces. The rally used to be run purely on the Catalunya region’s super-smooth asphalt roads, which are likened to racing circuits with their flowing nature and high speeds. In 2010 however, a day on gravel was introduced. This has proved popular with fans, drivers and teams and remains part of the event today, with the first day run mostly on gravel and the latter two days on asphalt. Some sections of asphalt do still feature on Friday on the Terra Alta stage.
The first day of the rally tomorrow features three stages each run twice either side of mid-day service in Salou. The first car leaves service in the morning at 08:15 prior to the Caseres and Bot stages on gravel. They are followed by the Terra Alta test, the longest of the rally at 38.95 kilometres and consisting of both gravel and asphalt. After all three stages are repeated in the afternoon, the first car is due to arrive back in service at 18:32.
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