The Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team will look to pick up where they left off when the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) resumes after its enforced break, at Rally Estonia this week (4 – 6 September). The team currently lead the manufacturers’ standings by 21 points, while Sébastien Ogier heads the drivers’ championship with his Welsh team-mate Elfyn Evans second and Kalle Rovanperä fourth.
Rally Estonia is an addition on the 2020 calendar, which has been revised to allow the season to restart in a safe and responsible way, with strict protocols in place to protect everybody involved. This will be the first time the event has been part of the WRC, although all the manufacturer teams fielded cars at last year’s promotional event.
The rally is contested on fast and smooth gravel roads with many crests and jumps. Since restrictions were eased, the team have prepared for the restart with testing in both Finland and Estonia, including taking part in the South Estonia Rally last weekend.
“It has been a long time since we have driven competitively” said Evans, “It’s been eased by the fact that we could at least do some testing and get back behind the wheel but there’s nothing like competition.
“I was lucky enough to be there for last year’s event, so I know a little bit about what to expect. The roads are very, very fast, similar to Finland in some ways but with a few less jumps, and even faster in some places. As I’ve seen from the testing we’ve done, the car feels strong on these high-speed gravel roads. We’re definitely hoping that we have a good package and hopefully we can get the most out of it. “
All three drivers made great starts to their debut season in the Toyota Yaris WRC at the beginning of this year, with wins for Evans in Sweden and Ogier in Mexico before the interruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The event will run to a condensed itinerary with most of the stages taking place on Saturday and Sunday, covering 144.5 competitive miles. The rally is based in Tartu, Estonia’s second-largest city, where it will begin with a short opening stage on Friday evening, close to the service park at the Raadi airfield. Saturday will consist of 10 stages, with a loop of five tests run in the morning, then repeated following the midday service. Sunday features three stages, each run twice with no service break.