A challenging Rally Sweden ended on a high note for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team with three stage wins out of three on the final day. This included victory in the Power Stage for Esapekka Lappi, who also gained two places in the overall classification to finish fourth.
An unfavorable position in the running order had prevented the team from showing the true performance of the Toyota Yaris WRC for the entire duration of the rally, but a total of eight stage wins showed the potential of the package. In his second rally with the team, Ott Tänak achieved six of these fastest times, including on the first stage of the final day. There, Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala gave Toyota its second one-two-three stage result of the rally, with Lappi gaining a place overall to move up to fifth. He then won the second pass of the Likenäs stage before triumphing in the Torsby Power Stage, enough to gain fourth by 8.6 seconds. Latvala completed the rally in seventh place with Tänak ninth. The Estonian driver also scored the final Power Stage point in fifth.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Today we were able to show some good performance by winning all three stages. Generally the performance of the car and the drivers has been good here but the conditions were sometimes a bit unequal. Hopefully something can be done so the conditions are fairer for all the drivers in future. Esapekka was very quick today to gain two positions and win the Power Stage. It has been a good rally for him and without one little mistake he could have been fighting for the highest position on the podium. We must not forget it was his first time on snow in a WRC car and next year I’m sure he will be even stronger.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“It has been a very hard weekend for me. We just lost so much time on the first day with our high starting position in the fresh snow and the heavy ruts. We changed the transmission for the final day and this improved the feeling compared to yesterday. The team did a very good job and the car was handling very well. It is both quick and reliable and that is important.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“This has been a tough weekend. On Friday we faced some bad conditions and couldn’t have done much more. On Saturday our road position was slightly better, the pace was better as a result and we could win quite a few stages. Then today when the conditions were in our favour we could do some more good times. This was my first rally in the Toyota Yaris WRC with a gravel-style setup and we have learned a lot of things.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“To get the Power Stage win and gain two places today has been very good. I’m really happy for the team as well: at least we got some kind of good result from this weekend. It means I’m not so disappointed anymore about what happened to me on Friday. It’s so easy to make a mistake here. Overall the whole rally was quite strong. I wasn’t expecting this kind of speed from my side, so I’m really looking forward to coming back here next year.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL RESULT, RALLY SWEDEN
1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 2h52.13.1s
2 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +19.8s
3 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +28.3s
4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +45.8s
5 Hayden Paddon/Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +54.4s
6 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +1m15.3s
7 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2m04.9s
8 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2m52.2s
9 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3m44.4s
10 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5m27.4s
(Results as of 15:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Rally Mexico (March 8-11) is the first gravel event of the season, known in particular for ambient temperatures in the region of 30°C and a route that peaks at 2,737m above sea level, starving engines of air and cutting power by as much as 20 per cent.