Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Group hope so as to add to their success on snow and ice once they contest the one pure winter occasion within the FIA World Rally Championship, Rally Sweden, this week (15-18 February).
It was in Sweden the place TGR-WRT scored their first victory – in solely their second occasion – again in 2017 with Jari-Matti Latvala, now Group Principal, behind the wheel. In all, the workforce have received 4 occasions from six begins in Sweden and can goal a powerful lead to spherical two of the 2024 season after starting the 12 months with a double podium at Rallye Monte-Carlo final month.
Two-time world champion Kalle Rovanperä will start his 2024 WRC programme on Rally Sweden, the place he beforehand claimed victory in 2022. He strains up alongside Elfyn Evans, who took his first win with the workforce in Sweden in 2020, and Takamoto Katsuta, who has additionally tasted success on the occasion prior to now.
A fourth GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid will probably be pushed by Lorenzo Bertelli as a part of TGR-WRT’s buyer programme. Sweden is without doubt one of the Italian driver’s favorite rallies; it’s additionally the place he first competed with the workforce, one 12 months in the past.
Following the GR Yaris Rally2’s debut at Rallye Monte-Carlo, seven of the vehicles will compete within the WRC2 class in Sweden. Sami Pajari (Printsport) is joined on the entry record by Georg Linnamäe (RedGrey Group), Mikko Heikkilä (TGS), Roope Korhonen (Rautio Motorsport), and Jan Solans (Teo Martín Motorsport), along with the TGR WRC Problem Program duo of Yuki Yamamoto and Hikaru Kogure.
Since 2022, Rally Sweden has been based mostly in Umeå, the biggest metropolis in northern Sweden and a brief journey throughout the Gulf of Bothnia from Finland the place TGR-WRT are based mostly. The occasion’s transfer north – it now takes place nearer to the Arctic Circle – has helped guarantee excessive winter situations and in addition even quicker roads. That is one the quickest rallies of the season, with drivers ‘leaning’ their vehicles on snow banks by the perimeters of the street to hold extra velocity via corners and utilizing particular studded tyres to achieve additional grip.
As final 12 months, the rally will start with a brief dash stage in Umeå on Thursday night. This will probably be repeated on the finish of Friday following two loops of three phases: the Brattby and Floda exams are equivalent to final 12 months, however a lot of Norrby is new. Saturday has the same format with a trio of repeated exams starting with the all-new Vännäs, adopted by the acquainted Sarsjöliden, whereas Bygdsiljum consists of a few of final 12 months’s Botsmark stage. A double-length model of the Umeå stage rounds out the day and, as in 2023, will even be run because the rally-ending Energy Stage on Sunday when it follows two passes of a revised Västervik take a look at.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Group Principal): “We had a strong begin to the season at Rallye Monte-Carlo and now we’re trying ahead to Rally Sweden, which is somewhat bit like a house rally for our workforce: it’s the place we bought our first victory again in 2017 and the winter situations are one thing acquainted to us. Final 12 months it was a bit tougher, so we now have actually tried to organize properly this 12 months as a result of we wish to be again within the battle for the victory. Collaborating within the Arctic Rally alongside our testing in Finland has helped us to be as prepared as we will. Kalle begins his season in Sweden and will be sturdy on this sort of occasion, and his beginning place ought to assist him to battle on the entrance. Elfyn has additionally received in Sweden earlier than and we’ve centered on ensuring he can have the perfect efficiency potential within the situations he’ll face nearer the entrance of the order. Taka can be sturdy on snow and had superb velocity final 12 months, so I hope it may be a very good occasion for all our drivers.”
Kalle Rovanperä (driver automobile 69): “It’s thrilling to be beginning our season with an occasion like Rally Sweden. I at all times get pleasure from driving on snow and it’s top-of-the-line emotions you possibly can have in a rally automobile. It’s been cool to get again within the automobile during the last week on the Arctic Rally and in our pre-event take a look at. Sweden has been a very good occasion for us prior to now however final 12 months we weren’t so sturdy, so this 12 months we wish to battle again. Because it’s the one spherical on snow, it’s not straightforward to search out the right automobile setup with only some days of testing in these situations. However I believe we’ve discovered some helpful issues in our exams and we’ve been getting in the proper course, so I’m trying ahead to the rally.”
Elfyn Evans (driver automobile 33):“Driving on snow and ice makes Rally Sweden a really particular occasion. Prior to now I’ve had some good performances there, and we’ve been working to attempt to enhance my feeling with the automobile from final 12 months’s occasion. Our pre-event operating in Finland has been helpful to get a while on snow earlier than Sweden: it’s given us the possibility to attempt a couple of issues and I believe we now have managed to make some good steps. The situations can range rather a lot throughout the rally, with gravel coming via on the second go of phases, and that’s one thing key to get proper. Beginning second on the street with quick drivers behind won’t be straightforward however we’ll do our greatest like at all times and attempt to get essentially the most out of the weekend.”
Takamoto Katsuta (driver automobile 18)
“Rally Sweden is at all times an thrilling rally and it’s one among my favorite occasions on the calendar. Driving on snow and ice is one thing I’ve actually loved since I began rallying in Europe with the TGR WRC Problem Program. Final 12 months, I had fairly good velocity in Sweden so I hope we will carry out properly once more and get a very good consequence additionally. This occasion is at all times an enormous problem and there will probably be some quick drivers together with Kalle beginning behind us on the street, so it won’t be straightforward to battle for the highest positions. However I’ll attempt to push onerous and do the utmost that I can.”