Recent from its newest producers’ championship success, Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Group will face an all-new problem on the penultimate spherical of the 2023 season: the Central European Rally, 26 – 29 October in Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria.
After TGR-WRT secured its third consecutive producers’ title on the earlier rally in Chile, consideration now turns as to if Kalle Rovanperä or Elfyn Evans will win this 12 months’s drivers’ title – the group’s fifth in succession – with their respective navigators Jonne Halttunen and Scott Martin in competition for the co-drivers’ crown.
There are 31 factors between Rovanperä and Evans with a most of 60 accessible from the ultimate two rounds, which means Rovanperä might clinch his second consecutive championship in Central Europe if Evans doesn’t outscore him. An Evans victory, however, would assure that their battle goes all the way down to the wire on the last spherical at Rally Japan in November.
Becoming a member of them within the line-up for the Central European Rally might be eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier, with Takamoto Katsuta to drive a fourth GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid via the TGR WRC Problem Program.
Following seven consecutive occasions on gravel on all kinds of various roads throughout the globe, this would be the first spherical to be held on asphalt because the Croatia Rally in April. It will likely be the primary fashionable FIA World Rally Championship spherical to function levels pushed in three totally different international locations, marking a return to Germany for the primary time since 2019 in addition to a debut on Czech roads and Austria’s first look because the inaugural season in 1973.
The service park might be situated within the German metropolis of Passau with shakedown to happen in close by Tittling on Wednesday afternoon. The rally will begin from the Czech capital metropolis Prague and its well-known citadel on Thursday lunchtime, earlier than a gap tremendous particular stage on the Velká Chuchle horse racing course on the outskirts of the town. An additional circuit stage round Klatovy follows within the night earlier than crews return to Passau.
Friday’s motion additionally takes place solely on Czech roads, with a trio of levels to be run twice both aspect of a tyre-fitting zone in Prachatice. Saturday’s route options two checks in Austria and one other in Germany, all to be repeated after mid-day service in Passau, whereas one stage on both aspect of the German-Austrian border might be run twice to type Sunday’s finale.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Group Principal)
“To have secured the producers’ championship earlier than we enter these last two occasions is unbelievable and lots of the main target will now be on the combat for the drivers’ title between Kalle and Elfyn. We might be giving them each our full assist, in order that they will have a free and truthful combat and one of the best driver wins. We may also have Sébastien again in our line-up and his ardour to win might be enormous as at all times, and now that Taka has no strain when it comes to the championship, I hope to see him capable of combat for an additional podium in these subsequent occasions. The Central European Rally goes to be new for everybody, and we anticipate that the roads could possibly be very demanding presently of 12 months: it could possibly be moist or muddy, or there could possibly be lots of leaves on the street. It gained’t be straightforward for the drivers however I do know that our automotive has been very robust in these sorts of situations and I might be encouraging them to push.”
Kalle Rovanperä (driver automotive 69)
“The producers’ championship is a superb achievement for the entire group, and now we might be pushing arduous to battle for the drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles in these final occasions of the season. When the combat is between team-mates it’s at all times fairly pleasant and truthful with the identical automobiles, so it needs to be an excellent one. It’s good to be again on asphalt with a rally automotive; in our take a look at I used to be feeling snug within the automotive right away and hopefully it is going to be the identical within the rally. I’m fairly assured that it may be an excellent occasion for us: the sort of asphalt rally usually fits me finest and I’ve had some good outcomes on these sorts of roads.”
Elfyn Evans (driver automotive 33)
“With two rounds to go, there’s nonetheless fairly a giant hole to Kalle in entrance of us within the championship but it surely’s not over but, and we all know how rapidly issues can change on this sport. We’ll be making an attempt every part we will to have two robust rallies to finish the season and we’ll attempt to put the strain on. That is going to be a brand new rally for everyone and with levels in three totally different international locations, we have to try to have a setup that may work in every single place. With any new rally, it’s tough to gauge from movies alone simply what the levels might be like, however the climate is bound to play an enormous half in how soiled the roads get and the way a lot grip might be accessible.”
Sébastien Ogier (driver automotive 17)
“I’m actually comfortable that the group are producers’ champions once more; it’s very effectively deserved after an amazing job this season. Although it’s arduous to know what to anticipate for this rally, I’m at all times excited to enter a brand new problem. It’s additionally near house for me these days, and I’m positive there might be lots of rally followers there watching and supporting us. I’m undecided that my beginning place might be optimum however it’s going to most likely rely on the climate: if it’s dry we will most likely combat for the highest locations, and if it’s moist it is likely to be extra tough for us after a number of automobiles have been via the levels. However I at all times begin each rally aiming as excessive as potential and it needs to be enjoyable.”