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Monday, 22 April 2024, 10:47 JST
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Source: Toyota Motor Corporation
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing takes a one-two in Croatian thriller

Toyota City, Japan, Apr 22, 2024 - (JCN Newswire) - TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team snatched a one-two finish on the Croatia Rally after a dramatic finale to a thrilling event, with Sébastien Ogier taking victory over team-mate Elfyn Evans.

Podium Ceremony

TGR-WRT maintains its 100 per cent winning record on the demanding asphalt event since it joined the FIA World Rally Championship calendar in 2021. The stages around the Croatian capital Zagreb once more delivered challenging conditions and close competition, with less than 10 seconds separating the top two in the overall standings throughout the weekend.

Evans was tied for the lead with his main championship rival Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) after Friday, with Ogier just 6.6s back after a stunning final stage time helped him claw back much of the time lost from running on dirtier roads further back in the pack. The TGR duo kept the pressure on until the final day and a dramatic second stage of the morning in which both Neuville and Evans lost time with incidents. A clean run for Ogier allowed him to claim the lead, while Evans survived his spin without major damage to continue in second overall.

Through two more stages, Ogier held on to claim the 59th victory and 100th podium of his WRC career. He and co-driver Vincent Landais ultimately finished 9.7s ahead of Evans and Scott Martin.

With a third podium from four rounds and by outscoring his main rival on Sunday, Evans remains just six points from the drivers’ championship lead.

Takamoto Katsuta improved his pace and confidence throughout the event alongside co-driver Aaron Johnston. He topped the separate Super Sunday classification, having won both passes through the Trakošćan – Vrbno test, and climbed up to finish fifth overall.

Thanks to the efforts of all three crews across the weekend, TGR-WRT continues to lead the manufacturers’ standings by an increased margin of seven points.

In just its second WRC event on asphalt, the GR Yaris Rally2 finished third in its category and 10th overall in the hands of Sami Pajari and Enni Mälkönen, who set four fastest times in their Printsport-run car.

Quotes:

Akio Toyoda (TGR-WRT Chairman)

“Seb, Vincent, congratulations! You've brought big points to the team for the manufacturers' championship. Elfyn and Scott earned important points as well with the second place, even though they might be feeling disappointed. Takamoto and Aaron also contributed a lot to the team by getting the maximum Super Sunday points for their great run on the final day. I would like to thank everybody as all our crews completed this difficult rally with unpredictable weather.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing achieved four straight wins in Croatia. However, it doesn't mean Croatian stages are the ones we excel at. The team always prepared various things for the changeable weather in Croatia at this time of the year, and the drivers responded with aggressive driving to take the win. Maybe it was Kristian, the team's meteorologist, who was feeling the most pressure this time. It is not possible to guess the weather 100 per cent, but he predicts it with the accumulated knowledge and experience to guide the team. That's a very hard job and I really appreciate his contribution to the team.

The next round is Portugal. Although we won there last year, the other two cars did not finish, so it was a frustrating event for us. I hope that the preparation goes well so that all our cars will be able to complete the rally safely, and I'm sure Jari-Matti and the team members will continue their great job to be ready for that.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)

“This has been an incredible rally with a fantastic result at the end of it for our team. After Saturday, I was not sure if we could win because Neuville looked strong, but this morning the attack of Elfyn in the first stage gave us hope. What happened next with both Thierry and Elfyn losing time was something we didn’t wish to happen, but it meant that Seb was suddenly in the lead and could take the victory. It was very dramatic but this is rallying, and you have not secured anything until you are really over the finish line. It also shows how great our sport can be with such a close battle for the podium places until the final day. It’s Seb’s 100th podium, which is an incredible number: for him to come in after almost three months away and end up winning the event, it just shows why he is an eight-time world champion and it’s great to have him in our team.”

Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)

“There’s a feeling of disappointment today. It started off pretty well in the first stage this morning, but we were too optimistic with our tyre choice and with the hard tyre it was a struggle in the second stage: this corner was quite full of mud and the rear came around. You’ve got to be in it to win it and it didn’t work out today. Still, the weekend was generally pretty good with a big fight the whole way through and second place at the end. It’s a great team result and nice to battle with Seb. It doesn’t feel like the team has been fully rewarded for that one-two in terms of points, but that’s how it is.”

Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)“I’m very happy to take this victory. It’s been a tough weekend: we knew that coming here with our start position but we pushed the whole weekend, we never gave up, and put the pressure on as much as we could. I think I never had so many moments in one rally, pushing the limits like this, but most importantly we brought it home with a win. One hundred podiums is a nice number and it’s great to reach it with a victory. I enjoy every opportunity I have to drive these cars and it’s nice to see we still have some speed. I’m super happy for the team, even if we can’t make so much difference in the points. It’s been a great team performance and let’s keep pushing like this.”

Takamoto Katsuta (Driver car 18)

“It’s been a good weekend for me as I was gaining more and more confidence throughout. Already on Saturday, some stages felt good, and I just tried to continue in the same way and I had an even better feeling in the car. I was a bit disappointed with the Power Stage where I was a bit too careful, but everything else went well today. We were fastest on Super Sunday and scored some good points for the team, which makes me very happy and it was a good result for the team overall. Next time I want to be better from the start of the rally and then the result can be much better, but it’s been a good weekend overall.”

PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, CROATIA RALLY1

1 Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 2h40m23.6s2
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +9.7s3
3 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +45.8s4
4 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +58.6s5
5 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1m55.5s6
6 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +4m01.0s7
7 Grégoire Munster/Louis Louka (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +5m11.0s8
8 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Citroën C3 Rally2) +9m21.3s9
9 Yohan Rossel/Arnaud Dunand (Citroën C3 Rally2) +9m59.5s10
10 Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen (Toyota GR Yaris Rally2) +10m22.7s

(Results as of 14:20 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)

2024 FIA World Rally Championship for drivers after round 4:1 Thierry Neuville 86 points2 Elfyn Evans 803 Adrien Fourmaux 594 Ott Tänak 535 Sébastien Ogier 456 Takamoto Katsuta 457 Kalle Rovanperä 318 Esapekka Lappi 239 Andreas Mikkelsen 1410 Oliver Solberg 12

2024 FIA World Rally Championship for manufacturers after round 4:1 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team 176 points2 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 1693 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 96

What's next?

The popular Rally de Portugal (May 9-12) is based in Matosinhos near Porto in the north of the country, and features classic stages on sandy and rocky roads.



Topic: Press release summary
Source: Toyota Motor Corporation

Sectors: Automotive
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