One year ago, Toyota secured the first win of its World Rally Championship comeback season on Rally Sweden. This week Toyota Gazoo Racing are aiming to repeat that success and also build on the double-podium result the team scored on last month’s Rallye Monte-Carlo
Rally Sweden was one of the original rounds of the WRC when the competition began in 1973 and it is currently the only full winter event on the calendar. The Yaris WRC will run on tyres fitted with metal studs to punch through the ice to find grip and the drivers will use the high snowbanks to keep the car on the road, leaning into the corners. Recent weather in the region points to the rally taking place in full winter conditions.
Jari-Matti Latvala, winner in 2017, said: “Sweden is one of my favourite rallies and actually the place where I took my first WRC victory 10 years ago. Compared to last year I think we have a better car; we concentrated on improving it on the slower and more technical sections during our test, and we definitely made a step forward in this area. Having said that, the competition is even tougher this year: within our own team as well. It’s going to be a really nice challenge in proper winter conditions and that of course helps me raise my own game. I’m confident we can fight for the win again.”
Ott Tänak, the driver who came second to Latvala last year is now a newly fledged member of the Toyota Gazoo Racing team and is keen to improve on his second place on debut in Monte Carlo. He said: “I’m still learning about the Yaris WRC, but after driving it on snow during the test I’m beginning to understand why Jari-Matti won in Sweden last year. For the first part of the rally we’ll just have to see how everything goes, but of course I’m hoping that we can fight for the podium and even the win.”
A superspecial stage will start the rally in Karlstad on Thursday night. Most of Friday’s action will be across the border in Norway, with Saturday’s schedule including the notorious Hagfors and Vargasen stages, followed by a repeat run through Karlstad and a sprint section close to the Torsby service park. Sunday will bring two runs through the Likenas test and final repeat of the Torsby sprint.
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