DOUBLE PODIUM IN MONTE CARLO FOR NEW TOYOTA YARIS WRC DRIVERS
The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has achieved a double podium on Rallye Monte-Carlo, the first event with its all-new driver line-up. Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans finished second and third respectively after strong performances on their Toyota Yaris WRC debuts, even though they ultimately missed out on victory in a three-way final-day fight. Rookie driver Kalle Rovanperä rounded out a positive weekend for the team with a fine fifth place on his debut at rallying’s highest level.
Quickly up to speed in their new cars, Ogier and Evans traded the lead with each other from Friday morning until Saturday afternoon. Evans led into the final day’s four stages with an advantage of 4.9 seconds over his team-mate. But their third-placed rival was only 1.5s further back, and posted a string of fastest times to ultimately deny the Toyota duo.
Ogier edged Evans for second overall on the rally-ending Power Stage, where he just missed out on the fastest time by 0.012 seconds. His second place together with co-driver Julien Ingrassia represents a strong beginning to his bid for a seventh world title this season. Evans – co-driven by Scott Martin – meanwhile acheived his best ever Rallye Monte-Carlo finish, after challenging for his second career victory.
Akio Toyoda (Team Chairman) “The 2020 season of the FIA World Rally Championship has just started. This year, Rally Japan is in the calendar, which will make it a particularly exciting season for us. For TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, this is a new season that starts with eight new drivers and co-drivers. I am happy to see this new team begin with all four Yaris WRC finishing in the points, and two cars finishing on the podium, with Ogier/Ingrassia second and Evans/Martin third; this is a great start to the season. I really appreciated the team preparing for this season in such a short period of the time. Thank you everyone! However, I reiterated our slogan ‘We hate to lose’ with the new drivers two weeks ago when we held the press conference in Tokyo. So I believe everyone, including me, has a little bit of regret in this season opener. As I said, this year’s team is ‘a team where all drivers can win’. Let’s fight hard together to target the top of the podium and keep working together to make the Yaris stronger. Thank you in advance for our fans to support us this season.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal) “It has been an excellent weekend for us. Of course, there is a small disappointment about today and missing out on the victory. We are always learning, and and the drivers didn’t have the perfect feeling with the car this morning. We made some changes to the setup later on, and they found good speed again at the end. We are competing at the highest level and it is so, so tight. The overall result is still incredible for our first rally with our new drivers: Not just to have Sébastien and Elfyn both on the podium, but also for Kalle to finish fifth in his first rally at the top level. It is very promising for the future.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33) “Obviously I feel a little bit disappointed today because I think we had the potential to win the rally. It’s difficult now because when you lead the rally, your expectations are raised and the win becomes the target of course. But it’s generally been a positive weekend. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite the feeling that I needed today. I was pushing hard but the speed wasn’t coming so naturally. I wasn’t nailing every corner and that ultimately cost us the handful of seconds we missed out by. We still have a little bit of learning to do, but overall it’s not a bad start and we can build on it.”