TOYOTA YARIS WRC TO TAKE THE ROUGH WITH THE SMOOTH IN SPAIN
The Toyota Gazoo Rally Team face a new challenge on next week’s Rally de España, the only round of the FIA World Rally Championship to be run on a mix of both gravel and asphalt stages. The multi-surface event will provide a thorough test of the development of the Yaris WRC during its first season of competition.
The car has already won on snow in Sweden in the hands of Jari-Matti Latvala and on gravel in Finland, with Esapekka Lappi. Progress has been made in asphalt performance, too, as witnessed last time out in Germany, where Juho Hänninen finished fourth and all three drivers claimed stage wins.
Historically, the Spanish rally was contested over fast, smooth and flowing asphalt roads in Catalonia, similar in character to race tracks. But since 2010, these stages have been prefaced by a day on gravel. Teams have a service interval of just 75 minutes on Friday night to change the specification of their cars to suit the different conditions.
Team Principal Tommi Makinen said: “This rally will be something completely unknown for me, as I have never driven the event like it is nowadays with a mix of gravel and asphalt. I don’t know what to expect personally, but of course Jari-Matti knows the challenges very well.
“Having two surfaces will require work from the engineers and the mechanics, as well as quite a lot of extra equipment. I am sure though that everybody is prepared and knows what to do when the cars arrive into service in order to change all the necessary parts. We have been making some good steps forward with the car and I hope that with more new items and new ideas, we can make some small improvements again.”
The rally gets under way next Thursday with a ceremonial start in the service park in the coastal resort of Salou, south of Barcelona. Three stages will each be run twice on Friday, including the 24-mile Terra Alta test, which has stretches of both gravel and asphalt. Saturday’s action has two loops of three stages and a test along the Salou seafront. Six further stages wrap up the action on Sunday.
2017 FIA World Rally Championship for drivers after round 10:
1 Sebastien Ogier 177
2 Thierry Neuville 160
3 Ott Tanak 144
4 Jari-Matti Latvala 123
5 Dani Sordo 89
6 Elfyn Evans 87
7 Craig Breen 64
8 Juho Hänninen 58
9 Hayden Paddon 55
10 Esapekka Lappi 49
2017 FIA World Rally Championship for manufacturers after round 10:
1 M-Sport World Rally Team 325
2 Hyundai Motorsport 261
3 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT 213
4 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 163