TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team showed strong performance on the final day of a demanding Rally Argentina, but just missed out on the podium places despite a spirited fightback from Kris Meeke, who finished fourth. All three of the team’s drivers gained places on the final day, with Jari-Matti Latvala and Ott Tänak also making up positions to finish fifth and eighth respectively.
The final day took place in the spectacular Traslasierra mountains, over the famous El Cóndor and Mina Clavero - Giulio Cesare stages: the former running twice, including as the rally-ending Power Stage. Late on Saturday night, both Meeke and Tänak had received 10-second penalties following confusion around a gate on SS11. For Meeke, this demoted him from third overall to fifth at the start of the final day. However, he responded impressively by winning the day’s opening stage, moving him up to fourth and within half a second of third: a position he then claimed on the day’s second test. Unfortunately, he would narrowly lose out on a podium on the final stage by just 1.4 seconds.
Latvala started the day in sixth position, but a strong run through the second stage of the day brought him up to fifth place. He secured the position for good with a great run on the Power Stage, where he was just 0.1 seconds off the fastest time. After having to retire from second place on Saturday, Tänak restarted and claimed eighth place overall on the final stage of the rally. He also scored one additional point from the Power Stage despite having to run first on the road among the World Rally Cars. Tänak remains third in the drivers’ standings, with Meeke fourth and Latvala seventh, while Toyota is up to second place in the manufacturers’ championship.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Things were looking quite good today. Kris was really fast this morning, but unfortunately he just missed out on the podium in the final stage. Jari-Matti had a brilliant final day. Maybe he was just a little too wild at the end of the Power Stage and sliding a bit too much and that’s why he didn’t get the five points, but it was a very, very good performance from him today. There wasn’t much that Ott could do today running first on the road, as it’s dried up so much from earlier in the week. Now we are focusing on preparing for the next event in Chile, where we hope to get back on the podium.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It was pretty demanding for us today. We were early on the road so we really struggled to set any good times. The positive was that we just managed to catch and take eighth place. It’s been a very frustrating weekend with the issues we had. We had good performance but no big result, so there is a lot to improve. We will keep doing our best, so let’s see in Chile how we can fight back.“
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“Honestly, I’m feeling happy at the end of the rally. The season has been difficult for me so far, and we had a bad start here on Friday. But step-by-step we started to come back on Saturday, and today I felt I was back on the level where I was at the end of last year. I’m really happy about that. I wanted to attack a lot on the Mina Clavero stage: it’s a stage where you can make big differences if you’re confident. This strategy worked out, which gave me an extra boost for the Power Stage, where we had a really good fight for the fastest time. Now I’m looking forward to Chile and the fast and flowing stages we’re expecting there.”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“The time penalty last night dropped us back to fifth, but everything was still there to fight for. The car was working really well this morning and I enjoyed it. The rhythm was good and we continued that into the Power Stage, but about six kilometres from the end, I got a warning light to say the tyre pressures were going down. I have no idea where it happened. I tried my best, and sometimes it’s like this. It’s a bit frustrating, because in the last three rallies we could have had a top result. I’m really enjoying driving this car, and I enjoyed today even though it didn’t quite work out. I have to keep doing what I’m doing, I know it’s going to come right.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY ARGENTINA
1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 3h20m54.6s
2 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +48.4s
3 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1m04.8s
4 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m06.2s
5 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m21.1s
6 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m26.7s
7 Teemu Suninen/Marko Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4m57.3s
8 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +14m24.8s
9 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) +14m28.5s
10 Pedro Heller/Marc Marti (Ford Fiesta R5) +20m14.5s
(Results as of 14:00 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Rally Chile (May 9-12) is a brand new addition to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar. Based in the port city of Concepción, it will be held over medium-fast gravel roads in the surrounding forests, as well as some more open sections with views of the Pacific Ocean.
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