The Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is set to attack the famed Monte Carlo rally with new aerodynamics on its Yaris WRC cars and a new driver line-up.
The Monte Carlo rally is the first round of the 13-round 2018 world championship and marks the start of the Finland-based Toyota team’s second season in world rallying.
This year’s event begins in Monaco’s Casino Square on January 25 and takes place on mountain roads around Gap, before concluding back in the principality on the following Sunday.
The event – first held in 1911 and the oldest on the WRC calendar – is renowned for its changeable weather conditions, with crews potentially encountering dry asphalt, ice and snow in a single stage.
Toyota GAZOO Racing has developed new aerodynamics for its turbocharged Yaris WRC cars.
The three drivers – Jari-Matti Latvala, Esapekka Lappi and new signing to Toyota, Estonia’s Ott Tänak – all won world championship rallies last season.
Latvala has finished second in this event in two of the last three years and aims this year to go one place better, while Lappi will drive a WRC car at Monte Carlo for the first time.
Team principal Tommi Mäkinen is a four-time winner of both the Monte Carlo Rally and the world championship.
Mäkinen said the break since last November’s Rally Australia has been short, but the team has been very busy improving the cars.
“Monte Carlo is always a tough event to begin the season, but I believe we can be much more consistent, which is what we need to fight for the makers’ and drivers’ titles,”
Toyota was third in the manufacturers’ title last year and Latvala was fourth in the driver standings.
Latvala said the team learned extensively during its first season together.
“We discovered where we needed to improve, so we are ready for the second year and should be very competitive,” he said.
Tänak was third last year in Monte Carlo and said there is a lot of excitement ahead of his first rally for Toyota GAZOO Racing.
“The team did a really good job last year,” he said. “Even thought it was their first season, they were already very competitive.”
Lappi said he is excited to be contesting his first full WRC season and hence his approach will be different, aiming for more consistency.