Toyota Gazoo Racing launch 2024 World Rally Championship challenge at Rallye Monte-Carlo

22 January 2024

Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team (TGR-WRT) are targeting a successful start to the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at the Rallye Monte-Carlo this week (25-28 January).

The team enter the new season with high ambitions, having won a hat-trick of manufacturer, driver and co-driver titles in each of the past three years. Their efforts will be supported by development of the GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid to make it stronger: the engine has been updated for better response at low speeds and the torque curve has been improved. The car also has a dramatic new look this season with a matt black livery.

While the WRC technical regulations have remained stable, there has been a radical change to the points system, designed to enhance the excitement of each rally’s final day. Points will now be allocated according to the positions at the end of Saturday on a scale of 18-15-13-10-8-6-4-3-2-1; however, crews must still reach the finish on Sunday to secure these points. A separate classification will combine all the Sunday stages and award points on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale. The rally-ending power stage will continue to offer up to five bonus points.

The TGR-WRT line-up for Rallye Monte-Carlo includes Sébastien Ogier, who claimed a record ninth victory on the event in 2023. Once again the rally is based in his home town, Gap, in the French Alps.

Elfyn Evans was the championship runner-up last year with three victories. He has a strong track record on the Monte-Carlo, with a best result of second in 2021. Takamato Katsuta graduates from the TGR WRC Challenge Programme to a full-time place in the factory line-up this year. He has finished in the points on his four previous Monte starts in the top category.

Rallye Monte-Carlo is the best-known events on the calendar and one of the most demanding, due to the often changeable weather which can bring ice and snow to the asphalt stages. Tyre choice is crucial, with a wider range available – some fitted with studs -to suit the conditions.

This year the service park returns to Gap, following two years in Monaco itself. The principality will still host Thursday’s ceremonial start, ahead of two night stages closer to Gap. On Friday there are three stages east of Gap, each run twice either side of a midday service. Saturday follows a similar format with three repeated tests to the west of Gap, including the Les Nonières stage, last contested in 1997.

Sunday’s final leg starts in Gap with a third visit to the Breole-Selonnet stage, followed by a single pass over the Col du Corobin from Digne-les-Bains. The Power Stage is an uphill blast towards the legendary Col de Turini, before the official prize-giving in Monaco’s Casino Square.

The rally will also mark the WRC competition debut of the GR Yaris Rally2. Four cars will be in action, fielded by four different customer teams: Prinstport for Sami Pajari; Burton Racing for Stéphane Lefebvre; RACE WRT for Bryan Bouffier; and Teo Martin Motorsport for Jan Solans. Lefebvre, Bouffier and Solans are entered to score WRC2 points on the event.

In another exciting debut, the Special Edition GR Yaris models of Sébastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanperä will be revealed in Casino Square on Thursday, before the rally start.

Team quotes

Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal): “We have enjoyed some fantastic success over the last few seasons and we naturally hope to continue this in 2024. We expect an even greater challenge and it will be even tougher to claim all the titles. To win the manufacturers’ championship will be our primary target, and if we can achieve the drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles too, that would be a great bonus. Our team are working hard to develop the car through the season and make it an ever-better. With Rallye Monte-Carlo, we start with one of the most demanding rallies, and I think a good weekend there can really give you a confidence boost. So Elfyn and Taka will be trying to make the best possible starts to their seasons, and it’s always exciting to have Seb driving with us on his home roads where he has been so strong before. We’re also really excited to see the GR Yaris Rally2 in action: after testing we’re feeling confident in the car, but it’s only now in competition that we can really see the level it’s at and gather more feedback for future development.”

Elfyn Evans (driver car 33): “It’s always exciting to start a new season, especially with Rallye Monte-Carlo. The 2023 season was a nice progression for us that showed we’re going in the right direction. Of course, we want even more in 2024 but it’s not going to be easy to achieve that. We know that the competition will be tough as usual, so as a team we’re always working to continually improve and we’re ready to give this season our best shot. With Rallye Monte-Carlo moving north this year, we’re much more likely to see wintry conditions forming part of the challenge. We had some tricky conditions in our pre-event test, so that provided some good practice, but this rally is all about adapting to whatever we face during the weekend.”

Sébastien Ogier (driver car 17): “I’m happy to be at the start of another season after all these years, and I take this opportunity with both hands. The last couple of years have been good fun with the team and we managed to secure some good results. I think we want to keep going this way as long as we can and that’s the plan for 2024, starting with Rallye Monte-Carlo of course. For me this is a must-do event and there’s a lot of hopes for this first rally. I think it’s the rally that you need to respect more than any other as the conditions can be so challenging, which means that nothing is guaranteed. Numbers are never my main motivation, but if I could get a tenth win on this event it would be something very special.”

Takamoto Katsuta (driver car 18): “It’s always nice to be back in the mountains around Monte Carlo ready to start a new season. Every year there is more expectation, but I like this pressure and I want to fight at the front, so I will try to have even better results in 2024. I want to be consistently in the podium fight, and to try to get a first victory. I will enjoy it and keep pushing the limits and working hard. The engineers are pushing a lot to improve the car further and I can feel in the factory that everybody is working hard, so I’m confident that we can be even better than last year. Rallye Monte-Carlo is one of the trickiest rallies in terms of the conditions with difficult tyre choices, but we’re up for the challenge.”


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Toyota Gazoo Racing launch 2024 World Rally Championship challenge at Rallye Monte-Carlo


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