Toyota Gazoo World Rally Team increased their advantage at the top of the manufacturers’ standings with a double podium finish on Wales Rally GB on Sunday. It was a fourth consecutive event in which two Toyota Yaris WRC featured inside the top three, with honours taken this time in a thrilling final day climax by Jari-Matti Latvala in second and Esapekka Lappi in third.
The Toyotas maintained the impressive pace that had already yielded victories in the last three rounds of the World Rally Championship, courtesy of Ott Tänak. Tänak again was the dominant driver on Friday, the rally’s first full day of action. The Estonian claimed five stage wins, in spite of picking up a puncture during the last of them, to lead the field by half a minute, ahead of team-mates Latvala in third and Lappi fourth.
Saturday’s programme featured more than 90 miles of forest stage action and in the morning Tänak was able to extend his lead, only to be forced out of contention with radiator damage later in the day. Latvala took up the gauntlet, with fastest times on two stages setting him up for the prospect of a third career win in Wales.
The last day of the rally consisted of five stages: three in the forests of North Wales and two passes over an all-asphalt stage finishing in Llandudno. Beginning the day 4.4 seconds away from the lead, Latvala made an excellent start to the morning, with a stage win moving him into first place. He continued to fight until the end and finished up just 10.6s shy of victor Sébastien Ogier. It was his third podium finish from the last four events.
“It was a great battle today,” said Latvala, “I really enjoyed the fight. The first two stages were great for me, but it went away in the final loop. It was maybe down to the tyre choice: I had one used soft tyre and on the gravel it wasn’t biting that well. This is a very important result for the team for the manufacturers’ championship, and also for myself: to get these consecutive podiums is very nice.”
Restarting under Rally 2 rules, Tänak was able rejoin the action on Sunday and claim valuable points for his drivers’ title hopes with second place on the Power Stage behind Latvala.
Lappi began the day with a margin of just 1.7s over the driver in fourth place, but immediately increased his advantage by winning stage 19. He ended the rally more than half a minute clear. With the results for Latvala and Lappi, Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team have increased their championship advantage to 20 points, with two rounds remaining.
The Rally de España will take place from 25 to 28 October. The penultimate date in the WRC calendar, is the only rally to be contested on both gravel and asphalt surfaces. After one day on gravel, teams are required to transfer the cars from gravel to asphalt specification within a 75-minute service. The asphalt stages that follow are smooth, fast and flowing, similar to racing circuits in their characteristics.
Final classification Wales Rally GB
1 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3h06m12.5s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +10.6s
3 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +35.1s
4 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +1m10.4s
5 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m14.4s
6 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m15.9s
7 Hayden Paddon/Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m18.4s
8 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +1m21.6s
9 Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) +9m14.7s
10 Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +10m48.9s
19 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +20m38.9s