TOYOTA GAZOO RACING’S FINNISH TRIO READY TO FLY ON HOME RALLY
Next week’s Rally Finland holds a special importance for Toyota Gazoo Racing as it’s the “home” event for all three of their drivers and their team principal, four-time world champion Tommi Mäkinen. Jari-Matti Latvala, Juho Hänninen and Esapekka Lappi are eagerly anticipating the chance to shine in what will be the fastest event in this year’s FIA World Rally Championship calendar.
The rally is famous for its many big leaps – yumps – which require special skills to tackle at speed, without coming to grief. Tommi Mäkinen and the team have taken time out from their preparations to provide a light-hearted – and very Finnish – insight into the art and heritage of yumping in a new video which can be seen below.
“Finland is a very special home rally for us,” said Makinen, who won the event four times during his competition career. “As long as the drivers are feeling confident, then I’m feeling confident too. I think we are well prepared as we have quite a lot of experience of Finnish stages. On the other hand, our car – the Yaris WRC – has been constantly evolving, so we are always discovering new things.”
Latvala added: “There’s pressure to do well, but it’s a positive pressure. No doubt about my target – victory!”
The rally is famous for its fast gravel stages though forests, punctuated by large jumps and numerous crests. Many of these occur on corners, making car positioning to achieve a perfect take-off essential. The stages are mostly wide with a smooth, compacted gravel surface that ensures a rapid pace.
The service park and Thursday night’s opening Harju street stage are in Jyväskylä. Friday’s schedule features 12 stages, ending with a return to Harju, and on Saturday the eight stages will include two runs through the event’s most famous challenge, Ouninpohja. Four further stages complete the action on Sunday, concluding with the Oittila Power Stage.
Latvala has the chance to match his boss’s Finnish Rally record, having won in Finland in 2010, 2014 and 2015. Hänninen has been a top-six finisher on his last two visits to the event, in 2014 and 2015, and Lappi has dominated the WRC2 category for the past two years, also claiming eighth place overall on both occasions.
2017 FIA World Rally Championship for drivers after round eight (Poland):
1 Sebastien Ogier 160
2 Thierry Neuville 149
3 Jari-Matti Latvala 112
4 Ott Tanak 108
5 Dani Sordo 82
6 Elfyn Evans 57
7 Hayden Paddon 51
8 Craig Breen 43
9 Juho Hänninen 30
10 Kris Meeke 27
13 Esapekka Lappi 20
2017 FIA World Rally Championship for manufacturers after round eight:
1 M-Sport World Rally Team 259
2 Hyundai Motorsport 237
3 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT 153
4 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 117