Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team open championship defence on the Rallye Monte-Carlo

17 January 2023

Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team (TGR-WRT) have set their sights on a third successive World Rally Championship (WRC) triple crown in 2023. This comes on the back of a debut season for the GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid car, which powered the team to a clean-sweep of the drivers’, co-drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles.

The challenge which gets underway this week at the traditional season-opening event, the Rallye Monte-Carlo

After becoming the youngest WRC drivers’ champion yet at the age of 22, Kalle Rovanperä returns to defend his crown together with co-driver Jonne Halttunen. They are again joined for the full season by Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin, twice championship runners-up.

Eight-time champion Sébastien Ogier commences another partial schedule of rallies on his home roads in the French Alps, where he is targeting a record ninth Rallye Monte-Carlo victory. He continues to sit alongside co-driver Vincent Landais after they joined forces at the end of last year.

Takamoto Katsuta will step up to share the team’s third entry with Ogier during the season, while also continuing to gain experience on all the remaining rallies – beginning with Monte-Carlo – in an additional fourth entry alongside co-driver Aaron Johnston as part of the TGR WRC Challenge Program.

Rallye Monte-Carlo is the oldest and most famous event on the WRC calendar, and often also one of the most demanding. Changeable weather conditions can mean drivers sometimes face dry asphalt, snow and ice in the course of a single stage. As a result, tyre choice is crucial.

As in 2022, the service park will be located on the harbourfront in Monaco, with the rally having its official start in the famous Casino Square before two Thursday night stages. The first of these climbs up to finish at the Col de Turini, while the second descends from La Cabanette on roads last used at the end of the 2020 edition. This is the longest test of the rally at 15.5 miles.

Friday consists of two loops of three stages to the north-west of Monaco around Puget-Théniers, which hosts a tyre-fitting zone in place of mid-day service. Saturday follows a similar format but is longer, with the action taking place further to the west and crews only due to return to Monaco almost 15 hours after they left. Sunday pairs two passes of the classic Luceram – Lantosque test with two more runs up the Col de Turini, where the rally will conclude at the end of the Power Stage.

Team quotes

Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal): “For a rally fan, the start of the season is always an exciting moment and this year is no different. Every team is able to win so we expect that this season is going to be tougher and more challenging. But we like this challenge and we enjoy having to really fight for victories. Of course, we have to have the three titles as our target once again. We know we have a strong car but we also know that we need to keep working hard and that there are areas where we have to improve compared to last year. Every year you have to look for where you can make your car better and there are a few things which we have changed for this year. We have everything ready: we have a car which has been competitive and reliable and our drivers are all familiar with it and hungry for results. With Rallye Monte-Carlo we start with the most difficult rally of the season. Going into the first stages in the darkness on Thursday night is a huge challenge for the drivers, and at the end of the weekend you want to finish with a good result to start the season.”

Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69): “My feeling is good before the start of the new season. We know that it will not be easy to defend the championship. We have seen that the competition level is getting higher all the time, so we need to try to raise our game and keep pushing hard. The team is again doing a great job to maximise the performance and make the car faster and stronger. Rallye Monte-Carlo is a special event, and usually makes for a bit of a tricky and nervous start to the season. But I’m more confident going into the rally than I was last year when everything was so new with the car; now I know that we should have everything in the right direction and be able to have an easier start. It’s never simple to have a clean rally there, but that will be our plan to begin the season in the right way.”

Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33): “The WRC off-season is always pretty short but I was still happy to take a bit of a break and now I feel ready to go into the new season. Last year fell short of my expectations, but we managed to make some progress and I’m hoping to be able to put better results together this season. The team is always working to evolve the car, and twelve months in to the Rally1 era we understand things a lot better. As always it should be a competitive year but I definitely feel that we’re in a better place to challenge, and fighting for the title remains my goal. Rallye Monte-Carlo is a classic event and one that everyone wants to win. It’s always a big challenge, especially with the conditions, but it’s a challenge I enjoy and hopefully we can start the year with a positive result.”

Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17): “I’m still very excited at the start of the season, even though I’m no longer taking part in the full year. It’s always a pleasure to sit behind the steering wheel of a top WRC car. Last year I really enjoyed doing these few rallies. It was good to see I could still be competitive and the target is to try and stay on a similar level this year and fight for some more wins. I know that the team is never relaxing; even though the last seasons have been very successful, they are still working very hard. Rallye Monte-Carlo is probably the one I want to win the most and I will do my best once more. Preparation has been more difficult as everybody is limited to one day of testing, which is difficult for such a complex event with different conditions and tyre options. But it’s the same for everybody, and I will try to make the most of my experience.”


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Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team open championship defence on the Rallye Monte-Carlo


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