August 21, 2022
Ypres Rally Belgium: Day 3
Another double podium for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has scored another double podium finish at Ypres Rally Belgium as Elfyn Evans finished just five seconds away from victory in second position with Esapekka Lappi in third.
Car 33 (Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin)
In their second time hosting a round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the farmland roads of the West Flanders region again lived up to their historic reputation as one of rallying’s most demanding asphalt tests with frequent surface changes and little margin for error.
Kalle Rovanperä was one of many drivers to be caught out when he rolled on Friday morning’s second stage: a first significant setback in what has been an outstanding season so far from the young Finn. An extensive rebuild of his car by the team’s technicians allowed Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen to return under restart rules the next day and target points in the rally-ending Power Stage over the famous cobbled climb of the Kemmelberg. There they set the fastest time to leave Belgium with their championship lead still a commanding one at 72 points with four rounds remaining.
Evans and his co-driver Scott Martin took over the lead when Rovanperä dropped out, but a slow puncture that compromised their tyre strategy and a 10-second penalty for arriving late to one stage meant they ended Friday third overall and 13.7 seconds from the lead. Having fought back on Saturday and gained second overall, Evans continued to close the gap to the leader Ott Tänak with two stage wins on the final morning, but just fell short in the end.
Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm scored their third podium from six starts and second in as many weeks with a superbly consistent and clean weekend on a rally where their only previous experience came eight years ago, having already had top-four pace from the start. The result ensures TGR still has a strong lead of 88 points in the manufacturers’ championship.
Takamoto Katsuta recovered from an issue on Friday morning to finish fifth in his TGR WRT Next Generation entry with co-driver Aaron Johnston, and is now the only driver to have finished every rally in the top 10 this season.
The public debut of the innovative GR Yaris H2 concept took place on the stages in Belgium, and was completed by Toyota rally legend Juha Kankkunen driving the Power Stage ahead of the competitive field in the hydrogen-fuelled car, running on Pirelli tyres. After driving the GR Yaris H2 himself on Saturday, Team Founder Akio Toyoda had the chance to ride alongside Kankkunen on the most varied stage of the weekend before greeting his drivers at the podium.
Also, thanks to the support and cooperation by many parties such as FIA, WRC Promotor, and the organiser, we were able to let WRC fans hear the exhaust sound of a hydrogen engine. Motorsport is really a sport. I believe people get excited because sports stimulate our five senses, and that’s why I want to keep the engine’s vibration and exhaust sound in motorsports. While we are trying to achieve carbon neutrality, we still want to keep the excitement. It was great that we were able to share that feeling in Europe.
To be honest I wanted to stand on the podium with the crews. This time I watched Elfyn, Scott, Esapekka and Janne a bit far away from the podium, but there is another chance for me to stand there this year. I’m looking forward to the next chance at Rally Japan in November and I will get soaked in champagne with them then. (And of course I expect wins in the other rallies as well!)
P.S. to Ott
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 4)
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, YPRES RALLY BELGIUM
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) 2h25m38.9s
Car 69 (Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen)
Car 4 (Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm)
(from Left) Janne Ferm, Esapekka Lappi, Akio Toyoda, Elfyn Evans, and Scott Martin
Juha Kankkunen, Akio Toyoda
Press kit and Event pictures will be uploaded here
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