The Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team are ready to take on the Welsh forests this week as they make their debut on the Dayinsure Rally GB, the penultimate round of this year’s championship. The event is renowned as one of the most challenging on the calendar and will provide a tough test for the three Yaris WRC cars, driven by Jari-Matti Latvala, Juho Hänninen and Esapekka Lappi.
For Latvala, it will mark a return to the scene of his first international rally and two previous WRC victories. “I was 17 years old when I did this event for the first time and I have done it every year since, so I think of Rally GB almost as my second home event. There’s such a nice mixture of stages and some really fast roads. It’s such a big challenge,” he said.
Lappi, by contrast, will be tackling the event for only the second time, although last year his result clinched him the junior WRC2 title. He added: “I saw last year how Wales can be a tricky place. I have to prioritise experience this time and try to learn more about the roads and what the conditions can do to them.”
The event is run on forest tracks in Mid and North Wales. In the dry, they can be driven at high speed, but often the autumn weather can turn them to mud, making for treacherous, slippery conditions. There is also the risk of fog and ice.
The action begins on Thursday evening with a new spectator stage at the Tir Prince showground, near Rhyl. On Friday morning the teams will leave the service park at Deeside, adjacent to Toyota’s UK engine plant, to drive two loops of three stages. Saturday will feature a marathon schedule of nine stages, ending after dark. On Sunday the route covers five further stages, including the final Brenig Power Stage.
Toyota’s road-going cars will also have a high profile as the company is the rally’s official car partner, providing a fleet of vehicles for safety and organisation personnel. Toyota is also the title sponsor of RallyFest, taking place on Saturday at Cholmondley Castle.
2017 FIA World Rally Championship for drivers after round 11:
1 Sebastien Ogier 198
2 Ott Tänak 161
3 Thierry Neuville 160
4 Jari-Matti Latvala 123
5 Dani Sordo 94
6 Elfyn Evans 93
7 Juho Hänninen 71
8 Craig Breen 64
9 Kris Meeke 60
10 Hayden Paddon 55
11 Esapekka Lappi 49
2017 FIA World Rally Championship for manufacturers after round 11:
1 M-Sport World Rally Team 358
2 Hyundai Motorsport 275
3 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT 225
4 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 198
Note to editors: On Wednesday Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT will host media hospitality in the Deeside service park, from 6 to 6.45pm. Drivers and team management will be on hand an all media are welcome to attend.