“We have a very good team for 2018” – Jari-Matti Latvala


Credit: Craig Robertson

Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team enter their second season with renewed hopes of chasing down the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship title with Jari-Matti Latvala, Ott Tänak and Esapekka Lappi.

It was an impressive debut year for the team as they took the Yaris WRC to a podium finish in the season opening Rallye Monte-Carlo before following it up with a win from Latvala in Sweden.

Another podium in Italy showed promise before Lappi took his first WRC victory while Juho Hänninen came home in third place.

With Hänninen now dropped from the team and Tänak joining them the level of experience grows further, with the Estonian taking two victories in 2017 along with a further five podiums.

“We have a very good team for 2018 – all of us managed to win an event last season, so I think speed-wise we should be strong.” said Latvala.

“My target is to try and get as many podiums as possible. When your driving ambitions are at this level and everybody want to get the podiums, I think it will be good for the team and for the manufacturers’ championship.”

While Tänak managed to secure third in the championship in 2018 with M-Sport, it was in inferior machinery to the champion Sébastien Ogier, a driving point in his move away from the reigning champions for 2018.

“There is a lot of excitement. It’s something new for me to come in to a new team, but this family has made me feel welcome.” said Tänak.

“So far all the testing has gone smoothly and we’ve learned a lot in a very short time. Obviously, my target is to win the championship, which is the same for the rest of the team, so I think we will have a good match.

“My first drive of the Yaris WRC was interesting as its behaviour was quite different [to my previous car]. There were a lot of positives and I just need to learn the car and the way to use it, but it looks to be strong.”

Although Esapekka Lappi drove for the team last season, it wasn’t a full season, the 2016 WRC2 champion is looking forward to the experience ahead, “This year will be interesting, for sure. I’ve never done a full season, so it needs a different approach from me. It’s not so much about each race; it’s about the whole package.

“I feel pretty comfortable, actually, as I already know the team from last year. Everything is set but we’ll still be fine-tuning the car and ourselves and the team.”