Rally GB: Preview
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing aims to continue winning ways in Wales
The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team will head to Rally GB (October 4-7) for round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship looking to continue its strong form after achieving three consecutive victories in Finland, Germany and Turkey. Jari-Matti Latvala, Ott Tänak and Esapekka Lappi will aim to maintain the team’s newly-claimed position at the top of the manufacturers’ championship, with Tänak additionally looking to further strengthen his bid for the drivers’ title.
Rally GB takes place in the forests of Wales on on gravel tracks which are relatively fast when dry. Rain and fog are common however, making the stages muddy and very slippery, with grip levels changing frequently. This year the rally takes place three weeks earlier and off the back of a hot and dry summer, but the team’s pre-event test in Wales last week was still affected by heavy rain.
A spectator stage at the coastal Tir Prince raceway will kick the rally off on Thursday evening. That is followed on Friday by three stages across north Wales, each run twice either side of service at Deeside, which is preceded by two passes of a short new Slate Mountain test. The classic mid Wales stages are all combined into a single day on Saturday: nine tests totalling more than 150 kilometres with no mid-day service, just a tyre fitting zone. The rally ends with five stages on Sunday, including two runs over an asphalt stage around the Great Orme and onto the streets of Llandudno, which hosts the finish. The Power Stage will be held over the first pass of Gwydir rather than the final test.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“We are very much looking forward to Rally GB. During our pre-event test in Wales we had some very wet conditions. It was really the first time since we started this project that we have tested in such weather, and I think we can now feel pretty confident whatever the conditions that we experience. This is a difficult rally with lots of tricky places, especially in the forests, and the grip can change quite dramatically depending on whether it is dry or raining. Everybody in the team is really giving their maximum effort to push towards the manufacturers’ title, and Ott’s chances are now very open in the drivers’ championship after his recent victories. I am sure that Rally GB will be a great battle.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“Rally GB is one of those events I have always enjoyed, partly because it was my first ever WRC round back in 2002: This year will be my 17th start in Wales. We had a very good test last week. I was delighted that we had a lot of rain and muddy conditions, because this is normally what you get in Wales, yet in the previous two years it was dry during testing and I ended up with the wrong setup for the rally. In the test the car was working really well in the muddy conditions, and we managed to improve the traction, which was our weakness last year. All in all, I got a good feeling with the driving and with the car, so I’m looking forward to the event.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“Normally, Rally GB is an event that I like. In an ideal world, I would like to have dry conditions and fast roads, but everybody knows that you cannot expect anything when it comes to the weather in Wales. During our test last week it was raining quite a lot so we had a nice amount of mud, which was perfect for testing really. We were able to do quite a lot of work to try and further develop the car and get more performance. I believe we did a good job and I’m looking forward to seeing how we compare against our rivals. Everything is possible now in the championship and I have a good feeling about what we can do in Britain.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“Our result on this event last year wasn’t great, and the car wasn’t really performing how we expected, but hopefully we have found something on our pre-event test that is going to help us to be much more competitive this year. Unlike for my team-mates, it was actually fully dry for my test day, so I would prefer it if the rally is dry. With the earlier date I hope that could be possible, but the weather is always unpredictable, so let’s see. I really like the rally itself so I’m really looking forward to it: It would be great to have a good result, both for myself and to help the team in the championship.”
The statistics (Rally GB):
What happened last year?
Jari-Matti Latvala finished fifth overall on the first visit for the Toyota Yaris WRC to Wales, taking two stage wins and missing the podium by only 5.1 seconds. Esapekka Lappi made it a double points finish in ninth, while a promising run for Juho Hänninen ended with a small mistake on Saturday afternoon.
Pictures will be uploaded here during the event
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