The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is ready to tackle the unique challenge posed by the Rally de España, the penultimate round of the 2019 season, following this morning’s shakedown in Salou. Kris Meeke recorded the fastest time, with all four Toyota Yaris WRC cars placing inside the top six.
Shakedown was held over a two-kilometre course just outside of the Salou service park. Although, like the rally itself, the stage featured both gravel and asphalt, its characteristics are different to the stages that will take place in the mountains of the Catalunya region. Therefore the team’s focus was more on systems checks than on making any major setup changes.
After three runs over the shakedown, Meeke had the quickest time, 0.3 seconds faster than anybody else. Jari-Matti Latvala was third and drivers’ championship leader Ott Tänak was sixth. Making his second appearance in the top category in a separately-entered Yaris WRC, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta showed strong pace with the fifth best time.
The rally gets underway with the first competitive stages on Friday following this evening’s ceremonial start on the seafront in Salou.
Tom Fowler (Technical Director)
“Shakedown this morning was mainly about checking that everything’s working properly on the cars. As usual here, the shakedown stage is not very representative of the rally, and it’s been in quite a bad condition after the heavy rain earlier in the week. It’s still positive to see our drivers high up in the times: it’s always nice to have a good start to build the confidence for the rally. The setups are going to be based largely on our pre-event testing and knowledge from previous events, but with a little bit of tuning to do according to the conditions. We need to wait and see how the stages are going to be, especially tomorrow morning, as they’ve been evolving while it’s been driving. This could make for an interesting start to the rally.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“I had a good feeling in the car in shakedown and everything seemed to be working well. There is no doubt that there is pressure this weekend, but it feels like positive pressure. It gives some extra motivation to really perform well and we are definitely keen to do that. Let’s see what the weekend will bring but I expect a really tight fight with our rivals, so it will be not be easy and we need to push.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“Overall, I’m happy after shakedown. Already on the first run, the feeling was pretty good and it was getting better on the second and third runs. I think the most important thing is for me to just focus on my own driving and if I do the job well, then hopefully the result will be a good one. It’s great to have a mixed-surface event like this and I’m looking forward to it.”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“It’s always nice to be quickest in shakedown. The shakedown stage here is not so similar to what’s to come during the rally, but still, everything felt quite good this morning. We had a lot of rain here on Tuesday night and certainly that’s going to be a factor over the weekend, on both the gravel and asphalt stages. But I’m looking forward to the challenge. I enjoy this rally and hope to get the best result possible.”
1 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1m31.6s
2 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.3s
3 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +0.7s
4 Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1.3s
5 Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.5s
6 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.8s
7 Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.0s
8 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +2.2s
9 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.9s
10 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3.5s
The rally begins on Friday with two loops of three stages held mostly on gravel, although there are some sections on asphalt in the La Fatarella-Vilalba stage, which is also the longest of the weekend at 38.85 kilometres.
Key stage: La Fatarella-Vilalba (SS3 & SS6, 38.85 kilometres)
Miikka Anttila (Co-driver car 10): “This stage has been part of the rally ever since it became a mixed-surface event, although it was run in the opposite direction and called Terra Alta until last year. There’s a long section on asphalt in the middle, as well as many other smaller sections, including right at the beginning. As we’re on gravel tyres on Friday, and this is the longest stage of the rally, this makes it very challenging.”
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