Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT opened their 2018 WRC season with a successful double podium in Monte Carlo. Estonian Ott Tanak finished 2nd, a place ahead of experienced team mate Jari-Matti Latvala. The final Yaris driven by Esapekka Lappi was going strong, battling for fourth until a spin on the powerstage run, cost him over half a minute, relegating him to 7th. Overall winner and current world champion Sebastien Ogier took the top step of the podium.
The Rallye Monte Carlo is a real challenge for the drivers who have to find the perfect car set up to tackle the mix of wet and dry asphalt, snow and ice. The sun bathed Grand Prix by the harbour are distant thought when it’s WRC time. This year’s event saw some of the trickiest conditions the championship has seen, with black ice covering the roads on the first day, causing countless driver’s to have accidents and lose valuable time.
Ott Tanak was making his debut for Toyota in Monte Carlo and adapted perfectly to the car, setting 4 fastest stage times on his way to his 2nd place finish. After the rally, he went on to say, “It’s really nice to start the season like this, it looks like I’ve joined a very strong team. The car has been amazing and I’ve felt really comfortable in it since the start of the rally. It was an extremely tough event with such difficult conditions, but we managed to get through without any serious problems.” 3rd place Latvala said, “I’m really relieved to get to the finish and to be on the podium. The team has done an excellent job and the car is performing really well so I’m excited for the season ahead. It’s going to be about staying cool and thinking about the championship and the points. This has been a good start.”
We have to wait till the 15th February to next see the Yaris in anger, as it takes on more snow in Sweden. Jari-Matti Latvala secured Toyota’s first win since their WRC return there last year, can he repeat it again next month?