Ypres Rally Belgium: Day 2
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing still in the fight on tricky Belgian roads
The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team will go into the final day of Ypres Rally Belgium with two cars in the podium places and Elfyn Evans only 8.2 seconds from the lead.
Evans began the day in third, 11.2s behind second-placed Ott Tänak, and set about reducing that gap during the morning loop of four stages. His consistent pace brought him to within 5.3s returning to Ypres for mid-day service, and he moved closer still after posting the fastest time in the second stage of the afternoon. He then gained second position when the erstwhile leader Thierry Neuville retired in the day’s penultimate test.
Esapekka Lappi has moved up into third overall after another solid and consistent day despite the tricky and often slippery nature of the stages around Ypres. He goes into the final day with more than a minute-and-a-half in hand over fourth-placed Oliver Solberg.
Kalle Rovanperä was able to return to action this morning under restart rules following his SS2 crash after the team’s technicians carried out an extensive rebuild of his car within the permitted four-hour service on Friday evening. He was immediately back up to speed, winning the first stage of the day, as he looks towards tomorrow’s Power Stage and a chance to pick up points towards his championship lead.
Takamoto Katsuta had an impressive day in his TGR WRT Next Generation entry as he fought back from a technical issue on Friday, climbing from 18th place to sixth overall with some strong stagetimes along the way.
Team Founder Akio Toyoda got behind the wheel of the GR Yaris H2 in SS11 this morning. The experimental concept features the same hydrogen-fuelled powertrain as the GR Corolla H2 which “Morizo” has been racing in the Super Taikyu series in Japan. After giving the car its debut on Friday, four-time world champion Juha Kankkunen moved across to the co-driver’s seat in the special GR Yaris, which like the Rally1 cars is fitted with Pirelli tyres.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“We’ve seen again today how difficult this event can be. The conditions haven’t been as bad as they could be because it hasn’t been wet, but there’s still a lot of dirt and gravel brought on the road and the grip level is changing. There are not so many kilometres to run but we know that it’s not over yet and we try to keep the pressure on. Second and third would also be great results for the manufacturers’ championship so we need to think carefully how we approach tomorrow. It was also great to see Kalle back in action today after a really great effort from the team to rebuild the car and he will of course aim for the Power Stage tomorrow.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“It was pretty difficult this morning with a lot of new pacenotes, especially when you have a lot of places where the road goes from very fast to very slow in an instant. There’s always places where you think you could have gone quicker. So I wasn’t fully at ease but things were working OK. The gap is not massive tonight, so it’s definitely all to play for tomorrow. On a rally like this when the margins are so tight, it will be a challenge to make up the time but we’ll have to keep the pressure on and see what we can do.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“A big thanks to the team who did an amazing job fixing the car so we could restart. The car was like new, it was perfect today. Straightaway in the first stage the feeling was good and we could have the fastest time. Of course, we had nothing to fight for today but we tried to enjoy it. It was important to push a bit to have a nice feeling and we set some good times. Hopefully we can do the same tomorrow in the Power Stage when we need to try and get some points.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 4)
“It’s been a very consistent day from our side. There was potential to be faster but with the gaps around us, it didn’t make sense to push like crazy. In fact I wasn’t really concentrating on the times at all, just trying to get through with a good rhythm and with no mistakes, and here we are in third position, so it’s paying off. As we’ve seen the margins are so fine and we have been smart and stayed on the road. We’ll aim to do the same job tomorrow and hopefully have a more straightforward Sunday than in Finland.”
End of day two (Saturday):
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) 1h58m55.2s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +8.2s
3 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1m09.8s
4 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +2m51.6s
5 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +3m05.9s
6 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +5m39.3s
7 Stéphane Lefebvre/Andy Malfoy (Citroën C3 Rally2) +7m46.2s
8 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +8m11.9s
9 Yohan Rossel/Valentin Sarreaud (Citroën C3 Rally2) +8m50.9s
10 Gregoire Munster/Louis Louka (Hyundai i20 N Rally2) +9m12.1s
TBC Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1h09m55.4s
(Results as of 19:00 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The last day of the rally is formed by two stages run twice either side of a final service halt in Ypres. The opening Watou stage is followed by Kemmelberg, where the famous cobbled climb will form part of the rally-ending Power Stage with bonus points on offer to the fastest crews.
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