EXPANDED TOYOTA GAZOO RACING SQUAD PREPARED FOR RALLY PORTUGAL
The Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team head for the Rally de Portugal next week (18 – 21 May) with hopes of accelerating development of the Yaris WRC car in its first championship season. For the first time, a third car will be entered, to support the team’s test programme: Esapekka Lappi will be lining up with Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hänninen for the all-gravel event, famous for its challenging, technical stages.
Latvala, currently holding second place in the drivers’ world championship, was the winner in Portugal two years ago and is keen to get the event off to a positive start: “What I learned in our last rally, in Argentina, is that the first day is very important; you really want to try and be in the top five so that you can have a good road position for the following day. So that will be my objective in Portugal, and if the weather is bad on the first day, my position of second on the road could actually help me – as the road conditions behind might deteriorate,” he said.
”Before the rally, we tested a few things, trying out some dampers and also experimenting with the ride height, so that we can perform to the maximum of our potential in rough conditions as well.”
The rally, the sixth event in the 2017 FIA WRC season, is based near Porto in the north of the country and features classic stages on sandy, rocky roads. First time through, grip can be difficult to find, while on the second pass rocks can become exposed and deep ruts can form, forcing team to raise their cars’ ride heights. Conditions can also demand compromises in tyre choice.
The rally starts on Thursday evening with a superspecial stage on the Lousada rallycross circuit. Friday’s action will include two runs through a new stage around the streets of Braga, while Saturday’s schedule features 154.56km of competitive driving, taking in two runs through the 37.55km Amarante stage and the new Cabeceiras de Basto test. On Sunday there are further new stages at Luilhas and Montim, together with the classic Fafe stage, renowned for its big jump. Fafe will also be the rally’s power stage, with extra championship points to be won.
The statistics (Rally Portugal):
|Year||Jari-Matti Latvala||Juho Hänninen||Esapekka Lappi|
2017 FIA World Rally Championship for drivers after round five:
1 Sebastien Ogier 102
2 Jari-Matti Latvala 86
3 Thierry Neuville 84
4 Ott Tanak 66
5 Dani Sordo 51
6 Elfyn Evans 42
7 Craig Breen 33
8 Hayden Paddon 33
9 Kris Meeke 27
10 Juho Hänninen 15
2017 FIA World Rally Championship for manufacturers after round five:
1 M-Sport World Rally Team 162
2 Hyundai Motorsport 140
3 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT 99
4 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 71
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