TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is celebrating its first win of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship season after Ott Tänak clinched a dominant victory on round two, Rally Sweden. It is the second win in three years for the Toyota Yaris WRC on the event, the scene of its maiden triumph in 2017. Tänak also won the rally-ending Power Stage to claim maximum points.
The drivers faced difficult conditions throughout the weekend as warm temperatures caused the ice and snow to melt. Tänak ended Friday within two seconds of the rally lead and then capitalised on his better road position on Saturday to open up an advantage of nearly a minute over the competition. On Sunday, he took care through the opening two stages and was then fastest on the Power Stage by 3.5 seconds to claim the five available bonus points. Co-driven by Martin Järveoja, Tänak now leads the drivers’ championship standings for the first time in his career.
Kris Meeke clinched sixth position overall in his second rally with the team after increasing his margin over his closest rival during the final day. His points have helped the team to claim a one-point lead in the manufacturers’ championship. Jari-Matti Latvala, competing under restart rules following his off on Friday, claimed a stage win in the day’s opening test. Marcus Grönholm also completed his comeback rally in a privately-entered Yaris WRC.
Akio Toyoda (Team Chairman)
“We achieved our first victory of the season at the second round of the WRC: Rally Sweden. I would like to congratulate and appreciate Ott, Martin and the team for bringing this result. I also would like to appreciate all the fans and our partners for their support. Thank you very much. It was beyond my imagination when the team won here two years ago at the just second rally of our comeback. I still remember clearly the surprise and joy at that time. This year’s victory is different; we could fight for the victory from the beginning. Reviewing this year’s rally comparing to the joyful one two years ago and a very tough one last year, I can see how the team has grown. I thank Tommi for continuing to lead the team. I saw Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm with unfamiliar drivers’ suits on the podium. Of course, I felt sorry that Jari-Matti, Miikka, Kris and Seb missed the podium. But at the same time, I felt a bit glad that they were there. It is not only because I see their smiles, but also because I felt that we were facing strong rivals. I believe Tommi and all the team members strongly feel as I do that all the drivers and co-drivers are on the podium. And this gives big power to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing to move forward. The season has just started. In the rest of the season, over 12 rounds, we will have tight battles with our strong rivals. This will make WRC more exciting and will help us make ever-better cars. Thank you in advance for your continuous support.”
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“It is brilliant to get a win here in the second round of the season and to be leading both championships. Ott has dominated the whole weekend, showing everyone how to drive in the difficult conditions. He is really strong at the moment. When I look at him right now, I see myself over 20 years ago when I was focusing on winning the title. Of course, it has been a more difficult weekend for Kris and for Jari-Matti, but they too have shown the speed of our car, and it is reliable too.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“We have had a very good weekend. Friday was a key moment where we had to get through to minimise the time loss in the conditions, but after this we just drove with a good rhythm and as little risk as possible. Today it was about saving the tyres for the Power Stage and to give it a big push. We had a very good run and everything was working really well, so I was really comfortable in the car. We have a very strong team and it’s great for us to have this kind of result at the beginning of the season.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“The first stage this morning was the best stage of the rally: nice, clean ice conditions with big snowbanks, and a fast, flowing road over the crests. It was really enjoyable to drive and nice to be back in a good rhythm. I hoped to get some points on the Power Stage and finish the rally on a high note, but the conditions there for me were very difficult, especially the last part where there was lots of snow and slush. Now we look forward to Mexico.”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“The conditions this morning were very nice with full ice: just what we really like to drive on. My objective today was to try and finish in front of Sebastien Loeb and we managed to increase the gap, so I’m happy with that. On the Power Stage I had a big impact on the front-left and I struggled after that. The mild temperatures this weekend have been so different to my pre-event test and I’ve lacked some speed as a result. But it’s good to get to the end and score some points for the team.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY SWEDEN
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2h47m30.0s
2 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +53.7s
3 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +56.7s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m05.4s
5 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m08.2s
6 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m38.8s
7 Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m49.7s
8 Pontus Tidemand/Ola Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3m37.7s
9 Ole Christian Veiby/Jonas Andersson (Volkswagen Polo R5) +6m34.0s
10 Janne Tuohino/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +8m21.4s
21 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +14m44.4s
(Results as of 15:00 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Rally Mexico (March 7-10) provides a major contrast from Sweden for the teams and drivers, with rough gravel roads and temperatures in the region of 30°C. High altitude is also a major factor, with a route that peaks at 2,737m above sea level, starving engines of air and cutting power by as much as 20 per cent.
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