Toyota Gazoo Racing is currently leading both the drivers’ championship and the manufacturer’s championship as they are heading for the round four of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship at Rally de Portugal this weekend, which marks the gravel debut for the new Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 cars.
The team is currently the strongest and the one to beat in the new Rally1 hybrid regulations. The Finnish youngster Kalle Rovanperä has won two out of the three rounds in Sweden and Croatia to the lead the championship by 29 points meanwhile the team heads the manufacturers by 42 points.
The Toyota line-up will be changed for this weekend with the reigning world champion Sébastien Ogier joining in the third car, the eight time champion from France will be joining the Finn Rovanperä and the Britoin Elfyn Evans while the Japanese driver Takamoto Katsuta is entered for the Toyota Gazoo Racing NG team in a fourth GR Yaris Rally1.
Toyota’s team principal Jari-Matti Latvala has managed the team well since his takeover in the role, the former WRC driver who is also the most experienced so far, says it will be interesting to see where they stand against the other two manufacturers on the gravel surface.
“So far, we have been very competitive with the GR YARIS Rally1 on asphalt and snow across the first three rallies of the season. Portugal will be the first of three difficult rallies on gravel in just over five weeks and it will be very interesting to see the level of the different teams and cars.” Latvala said.
“With so much of the season driven on gravel, it’s very important to be competitive on this surface, and providing our drivers with a reliable car will also have to be a big focus across these next events. In Portugal, when it’s dry there’s a lot of loose gravel on top of the surface and this makes it very difficult for the first car on the road.”
“This difficult task will be a new experience for Kalle on Friday, but we know that he’ll be able to keep his cool even if he’s losing time. On the other hand, we will have good starting positions with Elfyn and Seb and they should both have a strong possibility to fight for the victory.”