Ott Tänak claimed his first World Rally Championship (WRC) win for Toyota with a comprehensive victory in Rally Argentina at the weekend.
The Estonian dominated the tough dirt-road rally in his Toyota Yaris WRC to post his third WRC career victory by 37.7 seconds.
Tänak recovered from an early spin to win 10 of the 18 stages, securing the maximum 25 points plus a further two points in the power stage.
In an exceptional display of driving, Tänak claimed the rally lead on Friday morning and then pulled away by winning all three stages of the afternoon loop.
He won five stages on both Friday and Saturday, raising his tally of fastest times this season to an impressive 28 stages.
Tänak said dominating the rally to take his first win with the Toyota team was special and had given him confidence for the rest of the season.
“We have been improving the car very quickly, and it is now pretty much how I like it,” Tänak said. “It is still fairly early in the season, so now we just need to keep going in the same way in the coming rallies.”
The Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has narrowed the gap to second place in the manufacturers’ championship to just five points. In the drivers’ title race, Tänak is now within 18 points of second place.
Esapekka Lappi, in his Rally Argentina debut, was hampered by numerous punctures but still finished in eighth place.
Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala, who began the rally by posting similar times to Tänak, was forced to retire due to damage to the front suspension and engine caused by hitting a hidden rock.
Team principal Tommi Mäkinen said the win was fantastic for the team because it occurred in one of the toughest rallies of the year.
“We knew that we have good performance in the car, and now finally we have a brilliant result for all the hard work that the team has put in,” he said. “Now we hope to continue in the same direction.”