The Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Crew skilled late heartbreak in its objective of closing out the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship season with a victory at house in Japan.
The return of Rally Japan to the WRC calendar for the primary time since 2010 was extremely difficult for groups, drivers and co-drivers, with a wholly new occasion held on demanding and twisting asphalt roads within the mountains of the Aichi and Gifu prefectures. The GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid carried out strongly from the start, and would win 11 out of 16 phases over the weekend. Sadly, a handful of small incidents on the tough roads proved expensive by way of time and in the end ended the workforce’s probabilities of victory.
Elfyn Evans produced certainly one of his strongest performances of the season to struggle for the victory right down to the ultimate day, which he started solely 4 seconds from the lead forward of a protracted loop of 5 phases totalling 43.8 miles. Within the day’s first stage he lowered that hole to only 0.6s with a fourth stage win of the weekend for himself and co-driver Scott Martin. Nonetheless, within the subsequent take a look at they needed to cease and alter a wheel and tyre after operating extensive in a downhill right-hander, dropping them to fourth general.
This misfortune for Evans did promote Takamoto Katsuta into third place on his house rally in his TGR WRT Subsequent Era entry. Heavy rain hit for the ultimate two phases of the occasion however Katsuta safely made it by means of the treacherous circumstances to clinch a particular podium end, his second of the season along with co-driver Aaron Johnston.
Sébastien Ogier confirmed glorious velocity all weekend along with his new co-driver Vincent Landais, and should have received had the pair not dropped 2m44s in Friday’s first stage the place they needed to cease and substitute a tyre. Quickest of all by means of each Saturday and Sunday’s legs, Ogier fought again from final place to complete fourth general forward of Evans, solely 2m24s from the winner and taking 5 stage wins alongside the way in which.
After a record-breaking season the place he grew to become the youngest ever WRC champion, Kalle Rovanperä was additionally within the struggle for victory till Saturday morning when he slid extensive in a single nook and made contact with a wall, forcing he and co-driver Jonne Halttunen to additionally cease and alter a wheel. After shedding vital time, they handled the remainder of the rally as a precious alternative to check completely different automobile setups for the occasion’s distinctive traits.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Crew Principal)
“Ultimately we didn’t have the weekend that we needed to have right here at Rally Japan. We will see that we had the velocity as Seb was in all probability the quickest driver by means of the occasion and Elfyn was main for a lot of the rally. It was simply these incidents for every driver which had been sadly counting in opposition to us. The phases right here had been very demanding and so slender, so it was straightforward for these items to occur. On the finish of this season we may be very glad to have reached our targets by successful all three championships, which is implausible. Profitable the house rally of Toyota Gazoo Racing would have been very particular, however to have Taka on the rostrum of his house occasion feels virtually simply pretty much as good. In rallying, each occasion is bringing a unique problem and you can not win each one.”
Sébastien Ogier (driver automobile 1)
“It was a difficult finish to the rally at present with the rain which we knew was coming. It was a tricky tyre selection this morning with some phases to be pushed within the dry and a few within the moist so we needed to go together with a compromise. I feel we had the proper selection general as we had been quickest once more over the day. It’s been a superb weekend by way of the efficiency and velocity we confirmed once more this weekend, and the primary time with Vincent who has executed an ideal job. In fact it could have been even higher if we had been rewarded with the end result that I feel we deserved, however some dangerous luck hit us once more this weekend. We’re all joyful to see Taka on the rostrum at house and it’s been nice to have a lot help right here in Japan.”
Elfyn Evans (driver automobile 33)
“Naturally I’m massively dissatisfied about at present. It’s been a tricky season personally and we had an opportunity right here and threw every thing at it. Right now began very well, we had a superb rhythm within the automobile and issues had been working effectively. However on the second stage we ran marginally extensive and broken the tyre. It was an enormous penalty for a small error however that’s the character of the sport. It’s actually busy on the phases right here so it was simply executed. After that the battle for the win was over after which the rain got here and the tyres we had left weren’t optimum for that. I’m actually joyful for Taka to be on the rostrum at his house occasion: He’s labored onerous all yr and actually deserves it.”
Kalle Rovanperä (driver automobile 69)
“This has been a tricky rally and a difficult one simply as we anticipated. It didn’t go our approach this weekend however generally it’s like this. The principle factor is we obtained to the tip of the rally and realized some issues for the long run. Once more we had been utilizing at present as a take a look at day and we needed to maintain the steadiness with the tyres constant for the dry phases in order that we might attempt some extra issues with the setup. I feel we made a constructive step and located some issues which had been good to drive and not less than we all know the course for the long run. General we’ve had a extremely good season so we may be very pleased with that and because of the workforce and all people who made it attainable.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY JAPAN
1 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) 2h43m52.3s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +1m11.1s
3 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +2m11.3
4 Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +2m23.6s
5 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +4m05.1s
6 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +4m07.4s
7 Gregoire Munster/Louis Louka (Hyundai i20 N Rally2) +7m50.8s
8 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Hyundai i20 N Rally2) +8m12.4s
9 Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +8m25.6s
10 Heikki Kovalainen/Sae Kitagawa (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +8m59.8s
11 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +10m40.8s
(Outcomes as of 15:30 on Sunday, for the most recent outcomes please go to www.wrc.com)