TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team driver Ott Tänak and his co-driver Martin Järveoja have made history by securing their first FIA World Rally Championship titles with a stunning second place finish on Rally de España.
Tänak becomes only the third different driver to claim the WRC crown since 2004, while he and Järveoja are the first Estonians to ever achieve the feat. It is the fifth occasion that a Toyota driver has won the WRC drivers’ title, and the first time since Didier Auriol triumphed in 1994.
Having won six of the 12 rallies so far, Tänak arrived at the penultimate round of the season with a 28-point advantage in the championship. In the series’ only true mixed-surface event, Tänak was fifth overall following the opening day on gravel, before four consecutive stage wins on asphalt on Saturday promoted him up into third place.
On Sunday he opened up a comfortable advantage over the driver behind, but still needed to push hard on the rally-ending Power Stage to secure the title. In an incredible run over the 20.72-kilometre stage, he was 3.6 seconds faster than anyone to not only take the full five bonus points, but also grab second place overall on the rally.
Jari-Matti Latvala finished in fifth position, scoring important points for the manufacturers’ championship, which Toyota remains in with a chance of winning at the final round of the season in Australia, 18 points from the leader. After retiring on Saturday morning following a crash, Kris Meeke returned to action on Sunday under restart rules.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta successfully completed his second event at the top level in a separately-entered Toyota Yaris WRC, once again showing good progress even though a technical issue slowed him on Saturday.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“This is a historic achievement: We have a new world champion. It’s a big reward for the whole team for the hard work they have done together with Ott and Martin through the whole season to reach this target. There has been a lot of pressure for Ott this weekend. I know what it’s like and I think it’s difficult for anyone else to understand what it means. What he did on the Power Stage, to do what he needed to get the title, was absolutely amazing. The second place helps us in the manufacturers’ championship as well. We will still have a chance in Australia and we will do our maximum there.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It’s hard to know what to say in this moment. The pressure this weekend has been on another level. This has been the target of my life. I knew I couldn’t make any mistakes, but still I had to do a good result to make it happen. So it was massive pressure and it was difficult to get used to it at the beginning. But in the end I was somehow able to relax and do my normal driving. This morning I had a good feeling in the car and could drive with a good rhythm, but Dani [Sordo] was always a bit faster, so I knew it would be hard in the Power Stage to get the points we needed. I pushed hard and in the end it paid off. I’ve had to overcome a lot in my career, so it’s nice to finally achieve this. Thank you to the team; they have done a great job.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“I’m happy with my weekend. I think we had a consistent run and we didn’t really make any mistakes during the weekend, and the performance was overall at a good level. I was lacking some confidence at the start of this rally so I must be happy with the result and that we could score some good points for the team. Maybe we could have got fourth place today if I had pushed hard, but it would not have benefited us in the manufacturers’ championship and this was the most important thing, to keep it open going to the final round in Australia.”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“I enjoyed the rhythm back in the car today. We know that the Yaris WRC is really strong on asphalt, and I had a good feeling again this morning. We had to back off in the Power Stage because there was no way in which we could have helped Ott wrap up the championship, and it was important not to get in the mix and potentially take points away from him. We’ll go to Australia with something to fight for still in the manufacturers’ championship and we’ll give it our best.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY DE ESPAÑA
1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 3h07m39.6s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +17.2s
3 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +17.6s
4 Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +53.9s
5 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m00.2s
6 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m14.2s
7 Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m47.6s
8 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +4m20.5s
9 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +8m24.6s
10 Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas (Citroën C3 R5) +8m47.2s
29 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +42m20.0s
(Results as of 15:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Drivers’ World Rally Champions with Toyota:
1990: Carlos Sainz (Toyota Celica GT-Four ST165)
1992: Carlos Sainz (Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD ST185)
1993: Juha Kankkunen (Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD ST185)
1994: Didier Auriol (Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD ST185)
2019: Ott Tänak (Toyota Yaris WRC)
The season ends at Rally Australia (November 14-17), held on varied gravel roads with tight and twisty forest tracks combined with fast and flowing sections across open countryside.
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